Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

And, Again…

with 3 comments

I haven’t read Criiminal yet, but I’ll get around to it.  Karin Slaughter is the only writer I read any more, mostly because she’s the only one who doesn’t seem to me to be operating almost entirely on cliches.

If the book does locate things like having to have a husband or father in order to open a bank account, and that kind of thing, in 1975,  I would say that was a little late for me.

I was 22 in the fall of 1973, when I first went out to graduate school, and I opened a bank account and (about a  year later) rented a house without having to get anybody’s permission at all.  In 1975, I moved to Michigan and did the same with bank accounts and rental property and even bought a very expensive bed frame and mattress on credit without having to get a husband, father, or anybody else to sign for me.

On the discrimination and harrassment front, the timing fits my experience a little better–not because I ever experienced much of it, but because I’ve got credible evidence from people I trust that there was a lot of it specifically in professions that had been traditionally male.

And especially in trades that had been traditionally working class male, which is what the police department–outside of particular divisions–would have been.

In all that time, though, I was actually grabbed only once, and not by an employer.  The man was roaringly drunk at the time, in the middle of the day, which was not surprising.  He was roaringly drunk most of the time.

The incident was infuriating but not frightening, and witnessed by half a dozen people.  One of them was coming to the rescue when I pushed the guy off and he fell to the floor.  He had to be helped up and gave no indication that he had any idea of what had just happened, or even of why he’d fallen down.

It might have been subterfuge, but neither I nor anybody else who saw what happened thought so, and if you’d known this man and his behavior,  you wouldn’t have either.

What really strikes me about this incident, looking back on it, what really seems different between the then and the now, is not that the man wasn’t hauled up on harrassment charges or threatened with having his tenure revoked, but that  nobody said anything or did anything about the alcoholism.

He’d been brought in the year before as a “name” in the profession, with automatic full professor status and tenure, and the fact that he was falling down drunk most of the time was never mentioned by anybody.

These days, we’d send him to rehab at the very least. 

I do remember a lot of sexual innuendo and dirty jokes.  If they came from people whom I did not believe posed any actual threat to me–and they always did come from such people–I just rolled my eyes and expressed my opinions about jerks.   

The problem of that, of course, is that exactly the same behavior might have felt much more threatening to other people. 

And it might even have felt legitimately much more threatening.

I’ve heard all the really stupid stories–the woman who wanted a print of a Goya nude taken off her classroom wall because she thought it was sexual harrassment, etc–and nobody wants to encourage that sort of mindless self-important pseudorighteousness.

At the same time, that sort of thing is very bad manners at the least, and I’m not sorry to see that it’s largely  no longer tolerated.

There was a very interesting series of posts on Facebook a while back, written by author and actress Fidelis Morgan (good books, available for e-readers, look them up).

Morgan worked on and off on BBC programs during the tenure of a now-dead TV star host named Jimmy Savile, who seems to have made a positive vocation out of groping the staff, among other things. 

The cover up of that behavior recently became a full-scale BBC scandal, with lots of people moaning and shaking about how-could-this-have  happened.

Morgan points out that it was not Savile alone who was guilty of such behavior, but most of the males in the business, and the women did what they called “putting up with it.”

All that said, I still don’t think it’s possible to be nostalgic for an era that was dead and gone before you were born.

So I don’t know what to call my thing about the thirties.

I listened to Gershwin again this morning anyway,  and tomorrow, for blog, I just may put on Artie Shaw.

 I’ve just started finishing a Gregor, and I seem to be in a very strange mood.


Written by janeh

March 3rd, 2013 at 11:36 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses to 'And, Again…'

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  1. I’d agree. You can’t be nostalgic for something before your own time–though you might get close for something you knew about many years before. It’s possible there’s an alement of nostalgia in my affection for science fiction settings I remember from my teens. Normally, though, I’d say “fascination” or “intrigue” might be closer. “Glamour” once had a similar meaning which carries over into the modern “glamorous.”

    Or, you could just like the art of an era. I can admire Renaissance artists without being fasciated by the Quatrocento.


    3 Mar 13 at 7:17 pm

  2. I’m just back from having a broken tooth repaired. Whenever I think about living in Victorian or Medieval times, I find myself thinking about dentists!

    That is a sure cure for nostalgia. There has been a lot of improvement even since the 1950s.


    3 Mar 13 at 9:40 pm

  3. I didn’t get a credit card until later, but I certainly had no trouble opening a bank account (although my first was probably technically a transfer from my parents’ bank to a branch of the same bank near a university). I rented accommodations, too, and after my first two or three years and year off, proved that I was financially independant of my parents, so I handled all my student loans. Nevertheless, there was one weird incident which must have been in the late 70s. I’d moved for an academic year to a small Quebec city in what turned out to be a vain hope to improve my French. I rented a small apartments, signed up for classes, got set up in the part-time job which was part of the arrangements and, being me, decided that the local university library wasn’t enough; I wanted a card from the local public library which was so conveniently close to my apartment. I couldn’t get one. I needed the approval of my father, who was about a couple thousand km away which made it inconvenient for him to drop in and sign the form. I never did get a card, and I don’t know if it was my age (but I could rent a place to live, no problem!), my gender or even my Anglo accent. I think that was the first (and last) place I ever lived, even for shorter periods of time than a full academic year, that I was unable to get a card for the local public library. It struck me as very weird even at the time.

    And I agree 100% with John about modern medicine. If I’d been born a hundred years ago, I probably would have been one of the innumerable infants to die of gastroenteritis, and I have enough memories of the ‘solid old-fashioned dentistry’, as my current dentist calls it, of the 1950s and 1960s, that, as effective as it was, I’m really glad I never had earlier forms of dentistry practiced on me.


    4 Mar 13 at 7:24 am

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