My beau, we'll call him Jack because I don't want him to get in trouble with the laws because he likes to frequent certain places, rings me up on the phone at my folks' bungalow. I live upstairs in the in-law apartment with my own gas stove and sink. It's quite the life, I can come and go as I please...unfortunately mother and father know when I come home, so I've taken to slipping up the stairs in my stockings late at night, even then they just know. It doesn't matter that I'm an adult at the old age of 22 years. I know I should be married by now, but Jack's just taking his time, typical Irish bachelor, you know. So he rings me up on the party line:
"Honey, want to go out tonight?
"Sure thing, darling. Are we going to go see a picture? I really want to see Shanghai Express. "
"Naw, need to wait until payday to do that."
"So...what do you have in mind? Cutting the rug at Howie's?"
"Maybe....what do I say I pick you up in an hour?"
"Okeydokey, see you soon, Jack."
He's vague, only because he knows everyone can hear what he's saying. That busy-body old lady, Mrs. Waldover, down the street. Mr. Harvey, the Senn High School janitor, my mother, quite possibly that little Robert Hagendorf, who's always hanging in the maple tree overlooking over the white picket fence on our sideyard. A know-it-all if I ever saw one. I pretend to hang up to see if I can tell anyone else is on the line. To my disappointment, I don't hear the tell-tale click.
I hear the clink, clink, clink of gravel on my window at half-past eight. Not again. Daddy's going to be furious if he hears because he claims that Jack scratches the window when he does that, and he gets the window all dusty. Besides, daddy doesn't want to climb up the ladder again to wash windows yet again this year. Bad back and all.
I'm all ready to go, so I carry my Mary Janes and my hat down the stairs, hoping not to snag my stockings on any splinters on the stairs. I open the door. God Bless America! The door still creaks even though I greased the joints yesterday!
I open the door. Jack's smoking his corn-cob pipe as usual just like my daddy does. I have to say he reminds me of Pa in that regard. Otherwise, they're so different: Papa, short and squat, cautious behind the wheel, always has to plan everything in advance, complains about everything. "Roosevelt! He doesn't know what he's talking about!" and "Can't you see that I'm reading the newspaper? That means I'm resting." And" "Why don't you ask your mother? She always seems to have an answer!" Jack - he's so spontaneous, ready to go to the beach, a picture show, the diner, bowling, all at a moment's notice. I like that in a man! Now, if he would only ask me to marry him. I keep throwing around hints like a good girl, but he just doesn't budge. What is it with men these days? I've been meaning to ask Father Xavier about that sometime, but I just can't bring myself to think about that right now. Too depressing! It's bad enough that I have to save up my own money to buy a radio. I'm tired of listening on my parents'!
Jack, all six-feet and a wee bit more, leans down to kiss little ole five foot two me. He looks all dapper in his three-piece grey herringbone suit, holding his well-worn matching grey fedora by the crown. He does take my breath away even three years after we met at the St. Benedict's annual picnic. He's got those dark brown eye just like Buddy Rogers does and glossy dark hair like him too. And that smile! He's movie star handsome. I tell him we should move to Los Angeles so we can get married and make millions of dollars just like Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. But he likes Chicago, don't know why. I want to live where it's warm and there are palm trees everywhere.
"So where we going, Mister?"
He looks about furtively. Probably looking to see who's peeking out the windows nearby.
"Oh, just a little place down the ways."
I know what that means. A speak-easy. He's been telling me that he has a pharmacist friend who knows how to make some "happy" drinks. I don't know what they means, but I think I can add two plus two. I feel a little scared and excited too. I don't want to get in trouble with the coppers.
I come from a good family, you know, and I want to keep it that way.
I slip on my hat (a restyled cloche from Montgomery Wards. I bought some new feathers to update it just like McCall's suggested), button up my wool coat, slip my arm into Jack's. We head toward the Chicago Avenue streetcar. We might not live in California with the movie stars, but we're going out to have some fun.
*When I heard that the Violet Hour was styled like an old speak-easy, my mind went into 1932 Prohibition era overdrive, thinking about what I'd do if I were really going to one of these forbidden places back in the day. Here's what I came up with.