Every time Aron called Phoenix from Detroit, he would share stories of his wealth, friends, and apartment on Nine Mile Road. Aronchik (Mom’s youngest sibling) eventually became a successful entrepreneur, though summer of 1964 he was still trying to figure out how to get his contractor’s license, tell his ex-wife they were divorced six months earlier, and date women with a 14 year old nephew and a 18 year old niece staying with him in a 500 sq ft one bedroom apartment that had an accordion door separating the 3 foot kitchen from the rest of the place.
There are a few baby boomers’ coming of age fantasies that involve Patrick Swazye and a dance floor. I’m not that fortunate. My coming of age memories are a trip to Detroit, a pole with colored lights (no dancing girls), and a grown up party with blonds sitting on green couch arms with their long legs crossed at the ankle wearing pencil skirts and tight sweaters in pastel colors. One tall blond whispering to me, “We knew there was a woman staying here. There are napkins on the table.”
Girls, friends, girls, food, girls, fun, girls – the daily agenda. Though the major priority was the acquisition of money. Lots of cash which one carried in bags in the trunk of one’s car. Never knew when you might need a few coins for the meter or bialys and whitefish at the deli. It’s a simple algebraic equation (A + M = W). Aron plus lots of money equaled women. Back then, when men actually paid for dinner and a date was dinner and dancing, but I digress. You needed lots of cash to dress the part, drive the car, and get the girl. And Aron played the part with gusto.
Took me all freshman year to save up for the ticket to Detroit. An eighteen year old female traveling alone by train from Phoenix to Detroit during the days when no matter how hot it got, a dignified female wore a girdle, nylons, a black pleated skirt, sweater, and high heeled pumps. Even with all those undergarments, it was liberating being alone at last with strangers in the big world.
For 72 hours I was an adult on my own in a safe place – the Silver Streak bound for Detroit. Hitchcock might have had a different of view of trains, but my Mother was in Phoenix and it was way before cell phones, texting, twitter. Free at last, free at last, no Mother, riding the rails through Kansas on my way to Detroit, I was free at last. Pure unadulterated freedom staring back at me through the window at 75 miles per hour. All dressed up where to go? The dining car with white tablecloths, white linen napkins, white china cups with saucers – for drinking coffee with seven teaspoons of sugar plus real cream.
Like any number of my storybook heroines, I was on my way to the big city to see my very handsome Uncle, stay at his bachelor pad, and sleep on his emerald green Danish couch with teak legs. Normal people live in Detroit and vacation in Phoenix during the winter. Then there’s me.
Three days later, after a train change in Chicago, Aron picks me up at the train station. As we are entering the narrow hallway of the bachelor pad on Nine Mile Road, Aron is behind me telling me to turn on the light switch in the early afternoon. So I flip the switch to one of those 1960s teak pole lamps with five lights in red, blue, and green at intervals all the way to the ceiling. Lights flashing at odd intervals. This pole changed colors like the bedroom scenes in those seduction movies Dudley Moore stared in.
“I installed it myself,” says Aron behind me with a smile and a wink. “The girls really like this.”
All rights reserved. ©2009 by Sara Fryd