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

Racial attitudes in Washington

Some friends Lu Lu thought were her good friends and came to her house and ate her food, as Lu Lu was very hospitable to all of her friends. For instance Ken, who was a friend of ours and we had met through other friends, was a bachelor and originally he came from a small town in Pennsylvania. When he was seventeen years old he joined the Marine Corps. The Korean war was going on, and he was sent to the Korean war. Somehow I noticed whenever he talked about it he became very hyper. The pictures he showed me, that as a young man he was very bony and skinny. When Lu Lu and I met him he was well built, as he worked out on body building every day. He had an office job and was always well dressed. He owned a large boat with all the comforts of a house, and it had facilities for six people. Ken always came to our apartment and since he had spent some time in the Orient he loved Lu Lu's cooking. Lu Lu and I thought Ken was one of our good friends. He told me about his boat and all the girls he dated. He said he would take his dates on the boat, and then anchor the boat close to the Chesapeake Bay, an area which was well known as a lovers' lane by the boat owners who had their dates.

One Saturday Ken invited Lu Lu and I to have a boat ride with him. He had his boat docked on a small water inlet in Virginia off the Potomac River. Lu Lu had her shorts on, and in the summertime her skin gets dark. Ken was getting the boat ready, and before we left, Lu Lu told him that she wanted to go to the restroom first. As Lu Lu walked off the boat towards the boardwalk, and Ken and I looked at her, Ken said to me, "she looks like a nigger". I couldn't believe it that he could say that behind Lu Lu's back. I didn't think Lu Lu deserved that as good as she had always been to Ken. I told Ken that I didn't like the way he talked about Lu Lu, and if he felt that way, he could stick his boat and friendship up his behind. When Lu Lu came back I told her that I wasn't feeling too good and wanted to go home. I never told Lu Lu what Ken had said, but after that our friendship ended. Ken called me several times at work and apologized for what he said, but I told him if that was the way he looked and felt about other people we couldn't be friends anymore. Here was a young man who wanted to be somebody in life, and thought by having flashy things he could impress his friends.

Lu Lu was friendly with all the people who lived in our apartment building. There were two retired ladies who lived together in an apartment on the 7th floor. Lu Lu became very friendly with them, and they became regular visitors in our apartment. Madelyne and Scotty as we called them were both retired from the government. In their spare time they did a lot of drinking. Both of them had been spinsters all their life, but they told us that they had many love affairs before. One day they were drinking and started arguing. Madelyne came downstairs to our apartment and told us that her girlfriend didn't want her to live in her apartment anymore. So Madelyne had nowhere to go, and Lu Lu told her she could stay with us. As small as our apartment was, there was hardly enough room for us. As always, Lu Lu was too great-hearted. So Madelyne moved in with us. During the day when we went to work Madelyne was by herself in the apartment. What Lu Lu and I didn't know was that Madelyne was an alcoholic. Whenever we would come home from work she was so drunk that she didn't know what she was saying, and started to argue with us. We now understand why Scotty had told her to get out of her apartment. But it was too late as we were stuck with Madelyne. Whenever Madelyne sobered up again she would always apologize and thank us for what we did for her. But Madelyne wouldn't stop drinking, and one day when we were at work she had cussed the manager of the apartment building. When I came home from work the manager told me to come to her office. She told me that Madelyne had abused her and that she wasn't going to take that from her. She couldn't live with us in the apartment, and if she wouldn't move we all had to move out. What else could we do but move somewhere else? We couldn't put Madelyne on the street by herself. So I looked around for another apartment. Madelyne even offered me a $5,000 Government bond as a down payment on a house. She said she loved to stay with us. Madelyne had family members in upstate New York, and I didn't want them to think that I took Madelyne in for her money. The only reason we took Madelyne in was because we felt sorry for her.

I found a one bedroom apartment for rent on Wisconsin Avenue, across from the National Cathedral. It was a very nice little apartment. The manager of the building rented it to me because there was a lot of furniture left which I had to buy in order that I could rent the apartment. Madelyne moved in with us, but as before she started to drink again. I think it was more of a boredom than anything else that made her drink. Lu Lu and I had decided that it was time that Madelyne had to go and live by herself. Two blocks away from our apartment was a large complex of apartments called McLean Gardens. They had special small apartments for older people. They also had a cafeteria where she could eat. We were able to get a nice apartment for Madelyne.

CONTINUED: The assassination of Martin Luther King and the riots
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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