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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

Lu Lu goes to Washington, D.C.

Lu Lu asked me if I could drive her down to Washington, D.C. for a weekend so she could arrange her new job with Mrs. Arndt. I told Lu Lu that I would take her down to Mrs. Arndt. We drove all along Route 11, as at that time many interstate highways were still under construction. It was a long drive, as we had to go through many small towns, but the scenery was very beautiful. Driving through some small towns in Pennsylvania I saw coal mines in operation. Being an ex-coal miner myself, it always gives you that sentimental feeling for the people who work in those coal mines. You know how hard and dangerous the work is they are involved in under tons of mountain rocks above them. All along were apple orchards on the side of the road. We stopped at one and ate our lunch.

We spent one night with Mrs. Arndt, and Lu Lu arranged that she would start working with her in a few months. I told Mrs. Arndt that I wasn't too happy with my work in Syracuse. She said to me: Why don't you come to Washington and I can get you a job at the Marriott Corporation. I told her that I was interested in a drafting job. She said that the Marriott Corporation had their own architectural department for designing their Hot Shoppe restaurants and hotels. She was sure that she could get me in their department as an apprentice draftsman.

As we drove back to Syracuse we both were so happy that we had come to Washington D.C. Lu Lu was getting more money in her job, and I was finally getting a job I always wanted to do.

Lu Lu told me that she was only going to stay with Mrs. Arndt for two years and then would go back to Burma again. The money Mrs. Arndt was going to pay her she could save some. Lu Lu said the man she loved wouldn't marry her, so it was better to go back to Burma. The man she was talking about was me.

After a few months Lu Lu said goodbye to the Swerdlo family she had worked for three years. The Swerdlo family didn't like the idea that Lu Lu was just going alone in my car to Washington. I couldn't blame the Swerdlo family for that, as they didn't know me that well. But Lu Lu arrived safe in Washington D.C. and Mrs. Arndt was so pleased to have her again.

Once I was back at Syracuse I just worked and lived the same life as before. I called Lu Lu often as I missed her company very much. Sometimes Lu Lu would call and I would have a date in my apartment. She knew that I was seeing a lady who lived right around the corner from my apartment. She was a divorcee and Lu Lu couldn't stand her. One night she was in my apartment and Lu Lu called and kept on talking and talking, just to run up my phone bill. It was just plain jealousy on Lu Lu's part.

About half a year after Lu Lu had left Syracuse, I received a phone call from Mrs. Arndt and she told me that Lu Lu was taken into the hospital and that she needed a kidney operation. I was very sad when I heard the news and made plans right away to drive to Washington. When I visited Lu Lu in the hospital she told me that Mrs. Arndt had not lived up to her previous promise of what she was going to pay her, but instead had Lu Lu going to some of her neighbor friends to work for the additional money. The neighbors across the street from Mrs. Arndt were a doctor's family with four children and needed some domestic help in the house real badly. Mrs. Arndt told Lu Lu that she didn't need her to be around her mother all day. With two jobs Lu Lu didn't get much rest, because during the night whenever the old lady needed some help Lu Lu had to get up.

Luckily the doctor Lu Lu worked for was the chief surgeon at Sibley Hospital in Washington D.C. and operated on her. She lost a kidney during the operation. Doctor Williard Camalier who operated on Lu Lu told Mrs. Arndt that Lu Lu couldn't work for at least two months, and not any lifting at all. This operation had taken most of Lu Lu's savings, as she had just taken out insurance and was not covered for the whole hospital bill. Lu Lu's recovery took a long time, and Mrs. Arndt made Lu Lu do some work against the doctor's orders. Lu Lu had no choice as she lived with Mrs. Arndt and was getting paid. Lu Lu called me many times and told me that she suffered a lot. I wanted to help her but I wasn't able to as I had many bills to pay myself. I was financially a little bit in debt. I had saved before but that was all gone. I lived with my money day by day and that wasn't the way I wanted to live. I was trying to pay off my bills as I wanted to go to Washington D.C. where Mrs. Arndt had promised a job with the Marriott Corporation.

But things got worse. I became very sick from an infected finger which I neglected, and the infection had gone to my finger bones. I needed an operation, and lost several weeks of work. The compensation pay I received wasn't even enough to pay my monthly rent. All those friends I had treated and given most of my money to, not even one came to visit me in my apartment. I was sick in bed and the care taker of the building was the only one who came to my apartment to find out if I needed some help. Lu Lu called me every day, and even sent fried chicken by air-mail. It looked to me that she was the only sincere friend I had left. She even sent money. I was very taken by her kindness, and promised that I would pay back her kindness one day. After I became better and was able to go back to work again I started to make plans to leave Syracuse and move to Washington D.C. I was hurt by the friends who weren't there when I needed them. I found out who my real friends were when I was sick in bed. I learned a lesson when I was in real need who I could depend on.

I called Mrs. Arndt and asked her if that job we talked about was still available. I told her that I needed a few more months to save up some money. She said not to worry about that, I could stay in her basement room for a little while until I was able to pay for my own apartment. So I packed one day and left Syracuse very quietly, without even saying goodbye to my friends.

CONTINUED: Moving to Washington, D.C.
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

- Book Index