Most of us start a new life at least once, and usually several times in a lifetime. The big choices seem to be voluntary. Who to marry, where to go to college, which new job to take, where to live. Making those decisions affects the arc of a life dramatically. Some of the choices aren’t voluntary, they’re forced on us. The day Lucy got the call from St. Luke’s hospital forced a big change in her life, and in Judy’s life. Lucy’s last letter described that day.
Once Lucy internalized that major event she faced hundreds of decisions that a woman of the mid-1950s usually didn’t have to handle. Those decisions were hard enough, but she was facing them alone; the love of her life was gone. As I read Lucy’s letter I try to imagine what that was like. Even with the friends and family around to help, from here it looks pretty lonely.
The good news is that Lucy was already involved in Sweet Adelines, a women’s barbershop chorus. That group grounded her, gave her so many friends and opportunities for years. When I met Lucy she was deep into Sweet Adelines, and so much of the benefit came from the quartet Betty suggested.
Here I was, a mother, a daughter and a $1000.00 life insurance policy I didn’t even know Ken had. No job – only helping Lizell work on a car auction sale – snack bar – not much to go on but still didn’t seem to worry about a lot.
Stan Thurlow helped me get things together – I remember going to the judge to have things put in my name and he had known Ken as a young man had worked at Uncle Dave’s while he was going to school. He started to talk and forty five minutes later he just looked down and signed the papers. I had such support for everything. I did from everyone in my family – church – Sweet Adelines – neighbors and it seemed things had to be OK because by that time I had learned to have faith in my prayers.
Two things happened next – I got a job waiting tables on the weekend at the airport. A bus would pick us up and take us home. Soon I was made manager of the dining room when I worked it was usually weekends so the tips were good. Of course that was just a starter. I was offered a job at the Rex Cafe as floor manager. It was the best known restaurant in the two citys but Minnesota sold liquor and it was served with meals and I didn’t think I would care about that so ended my waitress work.
Then Betty Wroe suggested we start a quartet. That was the beginning of a most exciting time.