Some Times Ordinary is Extraordinary

The sun is shining, the oppressive humidity turned to rain, and voila — I have a perfect day to go grocery shopping. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Just an ordinary chore I do each week. The forecasters warn the weather will resume its “Miami-ness” on Thursday, so seeing I’m a frozen tundra kind of girl, I must get out there and do my duty.

Have you ever thought of how much of our lives we spend just doing ordinary chores? When I was a stay-at-home mom, my entire day was filled with them. Once in a while I’d take a day and do something fun away from home, but I usually had two little girls in tow.

When they went to school and I decided to go to college, the ordinary became anything but. As a full-time student with a part-time job, the ordinary chores had to be distributed among family members — and believe me, everybody got mad at me for that!

After graduation, a divorce, and now a full-time job, the ordinary chores I did for my family for over twenty years fell on the shoulders of my “ex” and my daughters. After all, I was exiled by them and little did they realize how much ordinary stuff I really did. Now I only would do these things for me.

The only time we even think about these normal ordinary chores is when we can’t do them. Ken used to always do the laundry and cut the grass. He still putters at the laundry, but often becomes too tired before he’s finished. I pick up whatever he has left and add a couple of loads to my usual cooking, vacuuming, and cat litter duty. And of course, the grass cutting chore has fallen onto my ordinary plate.

I’ll never win the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” by any means because I really hate housework. I dream someday my novels will propel me into the arena where I might get some help in that department. I love a clean house, but I have no propensity or desire to work at it everyday. And that’s okay. I have to save some time open for extraordinary stuff. Like writing. Like painting. Like going out to lunch with girlfriends. Yeah. Those things are much more fun.



Chapter 16

Flushing Meadows, New York – June—Donna Jean and Danny left Lacrosse on a train just after sunrise on the first Saturday in June. They looked forward to what they would experience at the New York World’s Fair. Donna had never traveled on a train before, and she marveled at the experience like a little girl. She gave her ticket to the conductor and then settled back into her seat.

Donna’s parents stayed furious with her from the time she told them of her intentions to enjoy the fair with Danny until the day he picked her up to get to the train station.

Her father yelled out the window as she put her suitcase in the trunk. “Don’t come back here! I’ll have no whore living under my roof.”

Donna shouted back. “Why don’t you sober up for a minute and think like a normal human being!”

Danny slipped behind the wheel as Donna got in the passenger’s seat; he glanced at her and witnessed she was fighting tears. “Don’t worry, babe.  He’ll cool off after the booze leaves his system.”

Donna tried to smile. “The booze never leaves his system. Let’s get out of here and enjoy our trip.”

“Anything you say, sweetheart.”

“My old man is hateful. This display is only a warm up for some of the stuff he pulls. Can we please leave?”

Sure thing, sweetheart.” Danny pulled his old Packard away from the curb. “Let’s paint the town red.”

Donna stared ahead. She wiped a tear away with an embroidered handkerchief and promised she wouldn’t let her drunken father spoil this trip like he had so many other times.


Once settled in their berth, Donna took a fat book out of her bag and started reading. Her father’s words still stung and she wanted to escape to another time. Since seeing the movie “Gone with the Wind” she always wanted to read the book but she never seemed to find the time. As she turned the pages, she transported herself to a southern plantation where life was luxurious for a feisty southern girl named Scarlet O’Hara.

Danny rested his head on her shoulder and tried to sleep as she read, but his tall six foot frame didn’t fit well in the seat. Every few minutes he fidgeted to get comfortable. Donna smacked him with the book. “Will you please sit still? I’m trying to read here.”

“Ow! That hurt!” Danny sat up straight.

After thirty minutes of silence between them, he made a couple attempts at conversation. Donna ignored him.

He complained. “Are you going to read that damn book all the way to New York?”

“Yeah. That’s why I brought such a fat book.” She gave him a smirk.

“Am I that boring?” He said.

“You really don’t want me to answer that, do you?” she teased.

“Come on, Donna. Be nice to me. Let’s talk.” He pleaded.

She slammed the cover shut. “Okay Jabberjaws. What do you want to talk about?”

“I don’t care. Just stuff.”

“Stuff, huh. What stuff?”

“Tell me what’s going on with Rosalie and Angelo. How’s the baby?”

“The baby is a little girl named Angelina. She sleeps, eats, poops and sleeps some more. She is cute like all Italian baby girls. Anything else?”

“Why are you being so mean?  What’s buggin’ you?”

“Beside that fiasco with my father? Well, when I want to read I want to read. It’s simple.”

“I just wondered how Rosalie and Angelo are doing. Since they got married, I don’t get to see him very much.”

“The baby’s birth turned out to be really rough for Rosie, and it is taking her a long time to want company.  She looked awful in the hospital, and I only saw the little rose bud for a couple of seconds through the nursery window. When I called Rosie after she got home, she said they had the baby’s ears pierced. There that’s all I know.”

“No kidding? That seems mean.”

“Rosalie said the babies don’t feel a thing.”

“I wonder how Angelo is handling being a Daddy. I can’t imagine being a dad at nineteen.”

“Parenthood is not for me, either.” Donna Jean said.

“Ever?” Danny’s face showed his surprise. He loved Donna and wanted to build a family with her. He didn’t ask her to marry him yet because Donna often talked about having a singing career. Danny thought her desire was a teenage pipe dream.

“The whole scene just doesn’t interest me. I want a life of my own before I get tied down. My dream is to sing. I want to perform.”

“I’d be your biggest fan.” Danny kissed her cheek. “I want a family some day.” He continued in a low voice. “Just not now. I’m having too much fun with you.” He reached over and put his hand on her thigh.”

She pushed his hand away. “Watch the hands, buddy.”


The train trip took about twenty hours, and both Donna and Danny left Penn Station exhausted as they lugged their suitcases to a bus which would drop them at the hotel. “At least we’re on the last leg of the journey.” He tried to sound cheery.

Donna smirked. “You always look on the bright side; I’ll give you that.”

“Come on crabby. We’ll get to the hotel in a couple of minutes if you put a wiggle on.”

They chose a new Holiday Inn for their stay in New York. The front door opened to a lobby with a long mahogany registration desk. To the left four leather chairs sat around a round oak table covered with magazines. Donna grabbed a brochure sitting on the desk which pictured the hotel’s amenities–a typical double room, the indoor pool, and a dining room. Danny and Donna’s room turned out to be on the fourth floor, and the only elevator was out of order.

Danny trekked up four flights of stairs carrying all of the luggage, He waited for Donna who trailed behind him to open the door. “Come on, sweetie, these bags are heavy!”

“Keep your pants on, sweet cheeks.” She slipped the key into the lock and the door clicked open. Danny dumped the bags in the corner and flopped onto the bed. Donna dropped down beside him, and both fell asleep in a few minutes.

When she woke, Donna turned on the light on the night table to glance at the clock. Midnight. She looked at Danny who lay on his back with his mouth wide open. He snored as loud as a steam engine, and she shook him awake.

He sat up abruptly. “What?”

“Cut it out!” She said.

“Huh?” He said drowsily.

“You’re snoring. Stop.”

“Is that all?” He fell back on his pillow and flipped on his side.

She snuggled next to him and went back to sleep too.


Donna woke at eight o’clock and patted the space beside her. Danny was gone. She heard water running and realized Danny was in the shower. She threw the blanket and sheet back and crawled out of bed. She looked in the mirror and made a face. She appeared a mess–hair ratted and knotted, make-up smudged, and old mascara providing her with two black eyes. Her dry mouth made her yearn for water and a date with her toothbrush.  She needed a complete overhaul.

Donna knocked on the bathroom door, “Hey good-looking, you just about done? I gotta pee!”

A towel clad Danny opened the door. “Sure-wooo, look at you!”

“Shut-up!” She rushed past him and waved him away.

He laughed and let her take over the bathroom.

The toilet flushed and then the shower started. He hoped Donna wouldn’t be too long because his hunger made the wax fruit sitting in a bowl on the dresser look good enough to eat.  In a few minutes, Donna screamed. Danny jumped up and rushed into the bathroom.

“What’s the matter?” He said.

With the shower curtain wrapped around her she screamed. “You jerk! You used all the hot water!”

“Sorry.” He backed out of the bathroom. “Really, babe, I’m sorry.”

“Get out!” She screamed at him.

“Jeez, I said sorry.” Danny chuckled under his breath, grabbed his clothes, and dressed for the day.


Donna emerged from the bathroom at ten o’clock. Danny never understood why women took so long to get ready, but when Donna emerged from the bathroom looking like a model straight out of “Vogue,” he got it. She wore a soft pale peach dress and hat to match. She pulled her blond hair into an “up do,” and her perfect make-up used a soft peach blush on her cheeks to match her outfit. Danny thought he never saw such a pretty girl.

“There’s my beautiful doll!” Danny said.

“I’m not your doll.” She pouted. “I’m not anybody’s doll!”

Donna bruised his feelings. After dating for almost two years, Danny believed Donna to be his girl, but her behavior lately told him otherwise. “I’ll tell you what. Tomorrow, you can shower first, and I’ll take the cold one. We’ll be even then.” He kissed her on the cheek.

She smiled. “Okay.” She never stayed mad at him for too long.

“Let’s get something to eat. I’m starving.”

Chapter 17

Flushing Meadows, New York-June, 1940—Donna and Danny arrived at the fairgrounds at noon having to change buses twice before stopping at the front entrance of the World’s Fair. The theme of “The World of Tomorrow” presented an idyllic picture of the future.  Donna prepared for their trip by reading magazines and newspapers ahead of time to plan an itinerary of which exhibits they would visit on which day.

Excitement swelled in Donna as she spied a glimpse of the white orb and tower in the center of the fairgrounds. They bought tickets and entered the fair grounds gawking. A huge white globe called the “Perisphere” could be seen from a long outdoor escalator which brought them into the park. The Perisphere covered a whole city block, and once inside visitors could see a model of a future city. Pleasant, quiet, one-family homes surrounded a large centralized city. The planned city provided painted a picture of easy living. After Donna and Danny took in the sights of the future, they exited on a broad sweeping ramp called the “Helicline.”

“Wow! What a gas!” Donna said to a smiling Danny.

Danny said. “I’m so glad you talked me into this trip. Can you imagine living in a city like that?” He laughed. “We’re not in Kansas any more, Dorothy!”

She playfully slapped his chest. “What is your first clue, Toto?”

Donna wanted to experience everything, especially a new invention called “television.” Almost a year ago, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave the opening day speech talking about the virtues of America’s ingenuity, but few saw the broadcast because nobody possessed a television; Donna wished she could buy a TRK-12  after seeing one, but its price was in the stratosphere.

Beside the Perisphere, a seven hundred foot, three-sided tower called the “Trylon” shot up into the sky. Donna stared up at the icon. “Wow, Danny! I can’t see the top of that tower. Can you imagine a city so big where all the buildings are so tall?”

Danny looked up at the Trylon with Donna. “No, sweetheart. I can’t imagine a place like that. Let’s see what else the fair offers.” He took her hand and led her to a serious of buildings constructed by the biggest U. S. companies.

The National Cash Register presented a building that resembled a cash register. A giant igloo served as the Carrier Air Conditioning building. The Glass Incorporated Pavilion taught them about the history of glass making with models encased in glass bubbles. In every direction the fair exhibited unbelievable things. Donna loved the walk-through waterfall by the Electric Utilities. Danny’s favorite exhibit was the huge bronze-colored smoking robot that talked and turned. As they walked through a new Douglas DC-3 airplane, Donna dreamed someday this big silver bird would take her away from Lacrosse and her father.

After a light supper of hot dogs and Coca Cola, Donna and Danny held hands as they stood in line for two hours to enter the General Motors Pavilion and get on a ride called the “Futurama.” Once inside, the ushers strapped them into chairs which moved like cable cars over an exhibit below.

A narrator began the presentation in a deep radio-type voice. “Ladies and gentlemen. I give you the future.”

The lights dimmed and a futuristic model of an ideal United States came alive. Donna said with excitement in her voice, “This must be how a person feels in an airplane, huh?” Magically they flew from coast to coast over cities of the future. Cars motored on spacious roads and pedestrians walked on elevated walkways.

Donna said, “So this is what 1960 will look like. I hope I’ll still be alive then.”

Danny looked at her curiously. “Where do you think you’ll be in twenty years?”

“I have no idea. When I get home, my father will probably kill me. ” A tinge of nervousness filter through her laughter. She pointed below to a red sports car. “But before I go I want a car like that one!

Chapter 18

Lacrosse, Wisconsin-June—After Danny brought Donna home from their trip, Donna Jean waved to him as he drove away. She tried her key at the backdoor and it didn’t fit and mumbled under her breath. “Oh, come on. Really? They changed the locks?” She banged on the door. “Oh, come on! Let me in.”

Her father yelled, “I warned you not to go off with that boy. Your clothes are in the garage. Take them and get the hell away from here. No whore will live under this roof.”

Donna yelled back. “Mom, open the door.”

“I can’t Donna. You made your sinful bed. Now lay in it.” Donna realized her mother wimped out again to protect her own hide. She wouldn’t challenge her husband because she refused to take a beating over Donna’s foolishness. Donna’s mother suffered a fist to her face way too often. The beatings usually came after a night of drinking, and today he began the day with whiskey instead of coffee.

“You’re damned to hell, Miss Donna Jean. Damned to hell. Now GIT!”  Donna stood in shock. She never expected her father would make good on his promise to kick her out of the house. She left her suitcase in the driveway and walked to Joe’s Diner to use the payphone.

“Hi, Jos. What’s new?” Josie immediately guessed something serious happened. Donna’s voice produced a tone of forced frivolity.

“I’m putting the finishing touches on my paper for English class. What’s up with you?”

Donna dodged the question. “I know you don’t like to write.”

“Yeah, but this too shall pass.” Josie laughed. “This is really a surprise call. Is something wrong, Donna?”

Donna cleared her throat to stifle her tears. “I’m kind of in a jam, Jos.”

Josie thought, again, but said softly, “What happened?”

“Danny and I took a wonderful vacation together to the World’s Fair.”

“And. . .

“Well, my parents locked me out because my father says he won’t allow a whore to live under his roof.” She mocked her father’s voice. “Jos, I can’t think. Tell me what to do.”

“Oh boy. You are in a jam.”

Donna cried. “I’ll think of something. I guess. I just needed to talk to a friend. That’s all really.”

Some of Donna’s choices bordered on poor, but she was a good person deep down. Nobody would find a more generous, helpful and fun friend. Josie loved her. She realized Donna’s wild rebellious streak usually got her in trouble. Going on vacation with her boyfriend turned out to be one of those times. Donna didn’t commit a crime. If anybody committed a crime her father did. Everybody in town understood he was a hopeless drunk.

“Call my Mom, Donna. I’m sure she’ll let you stay in my room until you can find a place.”

“That’s an awful big imposition.”

“Stop being ridiculous. My mother loves you. I’m sure she’ll help. Call her.”

“What should I say?”

“Tell her the truth.”

“Yeah, but she’ll probably think I’m a whore like my parents.”

“Donna Jean! My mother doesn’t judge. She’s loved you since you turned ten. She understands your spirited soul, and she would never turn you away.”

“All right.” Donna sniffled. “If you think she’ll understand, then I’ll call.”

Donna’s sniffles upset Josie. “Oh, sweetie. Don’t cry. Things will work out.”

“I hope you’re right.”  Donna said through her tears. “I sure got lucky when I got you for a friend. Thanks, Josie.” Donna hung up and dialed the Schneider’s number.




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