The Awakening
 
 

Janis LeForge
 
 

© Copyright 2010 by Janis LeForge
 

 

Photo of Janis in the Summer of 2009.

Victory! Doubting Mom convinced. She finally relented, and I got my first bra. It’s white, no nonsense (read no lace), as plain as can be, I’m still ecstatic just to possess one. I can’t wait to wear it. I’m zooming too far ahead of my story; just basking in the glory of it all. Let’s go back to yesterday. I was still a child then; a typical soon-to-be 7th grade (Junior High!) preteen girl. A girl, who needed, wanted, craved a bra. Something to show the world, a sign, that “you’re not a kid anymore” - what song was that from?

I remember sitting in class behind the newly confident Mary Rinsof. She with the long blond hair pulled back in a sleek pony tail. At the tip of her ponytail on her back, I could see the faint outline of the magical garment. Occasionally; just a glimpse of a strap (very daring). Worn under an opaque blouse or dress, I could almost see it. I could imagine myself with one: the power, the beauty, the sophistication of it all. Plenty of my friends and classmates had one (mostly the ones with older siblings). A large percentage of them only required a “training bra,” but to me, a bra was a bra. It looked just as impressive from the back. I, on the other hand, was in dire need of a bra. Why couldn’t she see that? Was my mother blind? (At the time she was pregnant with my soon-to-be fourth little sister. Her mind was obviously elsewhere). I was desperate.

 My parents: Loretta and Bob. Loretta was the boss, in charge of all our fates. Bob just went along. My Mom’s standard answer, even if you just looked like you were going to ask a question, was a sharp “NO.” My Dad had two: “ask your Mother” or “what did your Mother say?” I just couldn’t win. I tried to be clever. I would word my question so a “no” would actually be a “yes.” “Do I have to go braless ‘til fall?” I’d say. “Yes” she would reply. (What happened to the standard “no”? She was smarter than I thought.) I begged, I pleaded my case, I made promises of lifelong servitude, I cried; nothing budged her. I was doomed. I, of all my schoolmates, was quite developed for my age. Second only to Ann Hooper, who was a year older. Would I ever get a bra? Who would help me?

Salvation was delivered in the form of three 8th-grade boys. Unlikely allies - unknowing even. It was summer - the favorite time for all kids. No school. No homework. Hot, exciting, freedom time. Fireflies in a glass jar for the little kids (my sisters). For me freedom was riding my pink and black bike for miles. I painted it myself. It was blue in Loretta’s day. I wheeled off to friends’ houses, to the pool (diving and water ballet lessons), to the PTA carnival at school. What a great way to kick off the summer! The only rule was - be home by dinner. (And the usual question “do you have your dime?” meant to be for an emergency phone call, it was never used). What an innocent time. The carnival was full of treats: the food, the smells, the music, the people, the games, too much to take in. All my friends had gathered there. We ate soft creamy cones; we played the midway games, just hung out. It seemed summer would last forever.

 People always called me “cute.” Not pretty, not gorgeous or exquisite, just “cute.” My hair didn’t help. Mousy brown, cut short to try and keep the curls in check. I had bangs that appeared to be the right length when they were wet and being hacked at by my Mom, but too short and kinky when they dried. In my favor, I was barely 5 feet (not taller than the boys as many of my friends were at this stage - statuesque was not a compliment to a girl back then). My weight was proportionate to my size. I was dressed in my favorite red Keds, black short shorts (“who wears short shorts?” - I wore short shorts) and topped with a crisp white cotton sleeveless blouse - very prim and proper. No lipstick yet - that would be another longer battle down the road. Being the oldest of five girls was tough. I had to blaze the trail (while setting a good example) for the rest to follow. But I wander, back to the carnival.

 Ice cream, hot dogs, cotton candy, fun/silly games: darts to break a balloon; Ring Toss; rubber ducks; baseballs thrown at wooden milk bottle replicas. Games with cool prizes like stuffed animals, trinkets, Chinese handcuffs, posters, kupee dolls, squirt guns, feather boas, plastic jewelry, on and on ... Did I mention the squirt guns? The day flew by. It was getting towards dinner time; time for Cinderella to leave the ball and head for home. I wanted to tell them of the adventures of my day. Little sisters would be impressed.

Enter the boys - the 8th grade boys. So mysterious (remember I only had sisters) – so interesting, so different, so dangerous. These three were not jocks. They were greasers; but just mini-greasers. In my opinion they were very cute. Mike Akman, their leader, tall and lanky, with brown hair and eyes. Jim Cash was a little shorter than Mike and stocky with a blond crew cut and blue eyes. Eddy Something had the start of a few pimples, but was still adorable. I knew them from school. They were older, cooler, more enticing than the boys my age. Surprise, they were paying attention to me. They started to follow me home. They were talking and joking with me. How did I get so lucky? What was the secret spell I had cast over them? My head was spinning with excitement. I was almost giddy. It seemed I was popular!

 They began to talk to each other in hushed tones. What were they saying? Were they talking about me? How pretty I was? How funny? How dumb? I soon found out. They surrounded me. I stopped my bike, almost falling off. We were in the ditch by the side of the road; tall grass and weeds. The prize squirt guns came out. The boys no longer seemed so friendly. They were still laughing and joking; but not with me, at me. I had no clue what they planned to do. I was a little afraid. They were still smiling. Not to appear intimidated, I smiled back. BAM! They all started to squirt me. They knew what they were doing, had a purpose. I still did not understand. Was this how boys showed that they liked you? It wasn’t so much fun any longer. They were really laughing and pointing at me now. What were they saying? I looked down. My white blouse was soaked, almost invisible. Realization hit me! I grabbed my bike and took off for home. I could hear them hooting and hollering after me.

I sped as fast as I could. I cut through Country Gardens subdivision with its winding confusing streets. I had traveled this route many times. Shortly, I was home; by this time crying and out of breath. I ran to the kitchen. My Mom was there making dinner. She gave me a curious look and barked, “What have you been up to?” Safe, but still sopping wet, I just blurted out, “some boys did this. THIS is why I NEED a bra…”

EPILOGUE

When a friend of mine read this story she laughed. She told me she had been quite the opposite. She was a tomboy and did not feel the need (or desire) for a bra. Her mother had taken her to the store and bought her one. When they got home, the first chance she got, she went out in the yard, dug a hole and buried it.

I am a baby boomer who has lived in the Chicago area most of my life.  I am , as a psychic once told me I would be, surrounded by men who love me.  I have a wonderful husband, two sons, two step-sons and two grandsons.  This is my first effort at story writing.  

Oh, I now have a book of suspense at Amazon. It's called Sand Fly and all the reviews have been great.  Check it out!


 
 

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Satan Laughed
By Janis LeForge

Before now, there were many years I was reluctant to tell my life’s true twisting tale. Here are some thoughts on the “truth”. We’ve been told that truth is stranger than fiction and it will set you free. In court you must swear to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This is my true story.

So many days are just another casual step in your life’s journey. There are other days that shape your destiny; when you meet a fork in the road and make a critical choice. I wish I had known then what I know now. In my later years I learned that God had a plan for me all along, but in 1964 at age 17 the danger was I tried to look into the future to see what that plan was.

Judy, one of my four younger sisters, and I were trying out a new Ouija board that had been a recent gift. In case you are not familiar with the Ouija board let me explain. The board is a flat surface with two rows of the letters of the alphabet printed across the center. In the upper left corner is an image of the sun and the word “YES”. In the upper right is the moon and the word “NO”. The numbers 0-9 are printed under the alphabet and the word “GOOD BYE” at the lower edge. The Ouija board is placed on the laps of two people sitting facing each other. The persons doing the questioning place their finger tips on the pointer (a separate device also called a planchette) and concentrate on the question that has been spoken out loud. The pointer begins to move very slowly and spells out the answer you are seeking.
My question was, “What is the name of the true love of my life?”

I was in high school but still infatuated with my grade school crush. I had been from the time I first saw him on the swings in 5th grade. He had dark hair and dreamy blue eyes. His smile lit up the playground. By 7th grade thanks to our Junior Jump dance lessons, he had become quite skilled at the jitterbug, waltz, & cha-cha-cha. He was my on again/off again boyfriend, Ron, I’ll call him RON #1. My sister knew all about my feelings for him.

We sat quietly still and as the pointer started to move, I looked at Judy and said,” Are you doing this?”

She replied with a perfectly straight face, “No! Are you?”

The pointer moved to the first letter- “R.” Now I was sure Judy was messing with me.

No, I’m not!”, she swears.

Gently the pointer moves across the board, “O” it indicates. I can see where we are heading and I’m just not buying it. “N” it points to and then quickly slides to “good bye”. So- RON, my wish, my dream, my truth? I was both skeptical and excited. My sister vowed she did not move the pointer. She was just as amazed as I was. If you can’t trust your own sister, who can you believe?




That fall I got a part-time, after school job at the Tartan Tray Cafeteria at a local mall. I worked in the kitchen making pudding and salads, cleaning the coolers, and stocking the food line. The procedure for checking in was to remove your time card from the rack above the time clock and punch in for your shift. The cards were sorted by job category – dish washers, kitchen ladies/line servers (me), cashiers, and cooks. The cards were listed by last name and first initial of the employee only. I’m leaving off last names to keep it simple. The cooks, as I was later to figure out, were:

S/Steve
A/Alfred
R/Rudy
R/Richard (aka Rich)
R/Robert (Bobby)
R/Ronald (Ron)
M/Michael
H/Heinz

I was not interested in them other than a passing curiosity. There were several R’s as you can see and I needed to learn which R was which cook. They were all older and constantly making off-color comments. Since I was the youngest and most naive new worker, I was an easy target for their teasing. Today this behavior would be called harassment, but this was the 60’s. When they would hit on me, I just kept telling them I had a boyfriend (RON #1).

In study hall one morning as I am sitting next to RON #1, he chose this moment to inform me matter-of-factly that he had gotten this junior girl (we were seniors), Linda, pregnant and was going to marry her! My Eagle Scout athlete had gone over to the dark side. Linda was part of the fast crowd, we called them “greasers”. I was crushed. The Ouija board said he was mine. How could this happen? To hide my hurt, I acted like I didn’t care. I would show him.

Less than a week later, when the head chef at work asked me out for the umpteenth time, I finally said yes. What was his name? Remember the time cards - RON! Maybe the Ouija board was not wrong, I just had focused on the incorrect Ron. This Ron (let’s call him RON #2) was just the ticket to convince RON #1 I didn’t need him.

RON #2 was a man. He was five years older than me with a good job and a cool Corvair convertible. For our first date he took me to a fancy Italian restaurant called Corrados. I had food I had never heard of, but I enjoyed it. His parents lived on the Chain ‘O Lakes and had a boat. That summer, I perfected my waterskiing. You could say RON #2 took me places I had never been and taught me another side of life. Nine months later I was Mrs. RON #2. In the beginning I was thrilled to be away from my parents’ house and rules. Soon I realized I had traded my mother giving me orders for my domineering husband.

We did not live happily ever after. RON #2 was not pleased that the 18-year-old he married grew up and changed. The greatest blessing I took from this marriage was my amazing first-born son, Rob. Fast forward seven years and RON #2 and I were divorcing. As fate would have it, RON #1 was also in the midst of a divorce. We came close to re-connecting, but our reunion was short lived. We had both transformed our lives in different directions. He had picked up a toxic habit -drugs. The RON #1 bubble was permanently burst.

It was 1973 and I had all but forgotten the Ouija board. I met a friend of my sisters’ coworker, a Viet Nam vet named “JEFF” who became my husband #2. The great thing about him? He was the opposite of RON #2 who had treated me like a child that needed constant supervision. Jeff gave me the new untested roll of manager of everything. I will always be thankful for Jeff adopting my older son Rob and the two of us creating a second fantastic son, Mike. This little boy was the next greatest gift of my life. Jeffs’ dream was to be his own boss and live on a lake. We bought a bar up in the Northwoods of Hayward, WI. and moved our little family there. We had no idea of what we were doing. We never even looked at the books before we made the decision. Our union lasted eleven years. His personal demons did us in. For the next seven years I was a twice divorced single mom of two boys on my own. I felt like a failure, who knows without Rob and Mike to keep me grounded, that may have been true.

All this time, unbeknown to me, RON #3 was always nearby. He was in my orbit, but not on my radar. Even from birth, we were close, born in the same Chicago hospital. He lived in Des Plaines, IL not far from me in Mt. Prospect. When my grandparents would ride the bus out from Chicago to visit, we would pick them up at the end of the bus line in Des Plaines. The bus station was just blocks from RON #3s house. During my high school years, after I got my drivers license, there was a local drive-in called Big Boys. I used to hang out there with my girlfriends. We would just cruise around the parking lot checking out the cars and looking at boys. RON #3 was there too, showing off his first car a Tropic Turquoise color ’57 Chevy convertible, but we never met. When I married RON #2, we had our wedding reception at a place called Flying Carpet in Rosemont not far from Des Plaines. Where did RON #3 and his first wife have their reception? The same place! Both couples lived only a few miles apart. RON #2 and I even had close friends that lived in the same apartment complex as RON #3 and his wife. We were there often for cards or parties. I may have even admired RON #3s Corvette in the parking lot. Still, we never met. Can you count the coincidences?

Believe it or not I didn’t meet RON #3 until 1989. A close friend of JEFFs (ex-husband #2) sent me and my dented car to the body shop where RON #3 worked. There he was in his blue and gray work uniform with his name printed over his heart “RON”. He had a deep sexy voice and a great laugh. There was an instant spark of attraction but since he was married the timing was not right.

My car was named “Hal” the talking Chrysler New Yorker. He would say things in his mechanical voice like: “fasten your seat belt” or “your door is ajar”. I bought Hal used because he was a good deal. The highlight of the car was the turbo engine. When I was sitting in the car driving it was a sweet ride. If I had to look at it, well, let’s just say it was an old lady car featuring a plush blue velour interior, and I was not an old lady yet!

Two years later the car I never liked became the vehicle that brought me back to RON #3. Paint began to peel off Hals’ hood, so I returned to the body shop dressed in a black and yellow striped top and a white mini skirt. This time RON #3 was now single and flirting. He claims I stung him wearing my “bee” outfit and we were soon inseparable. I am happy to report that the 3rd time was indeed a charm, RON #3 is now husband #3 and we have been together 30 wonderful years!

The moral of the story? Following the Ouija board and trying to see Gods’ plan for my future cost me 20+ years of wandering in my own vast, barren desert. I’m sure this little drama made Satan laugh. I understand now why the bible forbids spiritualism. Today I live by faith and trust in the Lords’ plan.


Who is Janis LeForge?

Janis is a typical baby boomer, influenced by the era she grew up in: JFK – The Beatles - the moon landing -Viet Nam. The oldest of five girls, Janis always wished for the impossible, an older brother. A psychic once told her, “I see you in your old age surrounded by the men who love you.” Her hope for boys was eventually realized. She is married with two sons, two stepsons and four grandsons. All of her great passions: golf , writing and pickleball came later in her life after a range of careers (waitress, Tupperware demonstrator, accountant, banker, Northwood’s bar owner, purchasing manager).
Growing up in the Chicago area, she writes about the times and places most familiar to her. “Sand Fly” (a crime story) was her first novel. “The Romanov Remnant” (alternative history) is the second. Some of the same characters are featured in both novels which are available in paperback & eBook @ amazon.com. Janis lives contentedly in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas with her husband, their chunky rescue cat Chelsey, and her extensive shoe collection.






















Satan Laughed
By Janis LeForge

Before now, there were many years I was reluctant to tell my life’s true twisting tale. Here are some thoughts on the “truth”. We’ve been told that truth is stranger than fiction and it will set you free. In court you must swear to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This is my true story.

So many days are just another casual step in your life’s journey. There are other days that shape your destiny; when you meet a fork in the road and make a critical choice. I wish I had known then what I know now. In my later years I learned that God had a plan for me all along, but in 1964 at age 17 the danger was I tried to look into the future to see what that plan was.

Judy, one of my four younger sisters, and I were trying out a new Ouija board that had been a recent gift. In case you are not familiar with the Ouija board let me explain. The board is a flat surface with two rows of the letters of the alphabet printed across the center. In the upper left corner is an image of the sun and the word “YES”. In the upper right is the moon and the word “NO”. The numbers 0-9 are printed under the alphabet and the word “GOOD BYE” at the lower edge. The Ouija board is placed on the laps of two people sitting facing each other. The persons doing the questioning place their finger tips on the pointer (a separate device also called a planchette) and concentrate on the question that has been spoken out loud. The pointer begins to move very slowly and spells out the answer you are seeking.
My question was, “What is the name of the true love of my life?”

I was in high school but still infatuated with my grade school crush. I had been from the time I first saw him on the swings in 5th grade. He had dark hair and dreamy blue eyes. His smile lit up the playground. By 7th grade thanks to our Junior Jump dance lessons, he had become quite skilled at the jitterbug, waltz, & cha-cha-cha. He was my on again/off again boyfriend, Ron, I’ll call him RON #1. My sister knew all about my feelings for him.

We sat quietly still and as the pointer started to move, I looked at Judy and said,” Are you doing this?”

She replied with a perfectly straight face, “No! Are you?”

The pointer moved to the first letter- “R.” Now I was sure Judy was messing with me.

No, I’m not!”, she swears.

Gently the pointer moves across the board, “O” it indicates. I can see where we are heading and I’m just not buying it. “N” it points to and then quickly slides to “good bye”. So- RON, my wish, my dream, my truth? I was both skeptical and excited. My sister vowed she did not move the pointer. She was just as amazed as I was. If you can’t trust your own sister, who can you believe?




That fall I got a part-time, after school job at the Tartan Tray Cafeteria at a local mall. I worked in the kitchen making pudding and salads, cleaning the coolers, and stocking the food line. The procedure for checking in was to remove your time card from the rack above the time clock and punch in for your shift. The cards were sorted by job category – dish washers, kitchen ladies/line servers (me), cashiers, and cooks. The cards were listed by last name and first initial of the employee only. I’m leaving off last names to keep it simple. The cooks, as I was later to figure out, were:

S/Steve
A/Alfred
R/Rudy
R/Richard (aka Rich)
R/Robert (Bobby)
R/Ronald (Ron)
M/Michael
H/Heinz

I was not interested in them other than a passing curiosity. There were several R’s as you can see and I needed to learn which R was which cook. They were all older and constantly making off-color comments. Since I was the youngest and most naive new worker, I was an easy target for their teasing. Today this behavior would be called harassment, but this was the 60’s. When they would hit on me, I just kept telling them I had a boyfriend (RON #1).

In study hall one morning as I am sitting next to RON #1, he chose this moment to inform me matter-of-factly that he had gotten this junior girl (we were seniors), Linda, pregnant and was going to marry her! My Eagle Scout athlete had gone over to the dark side. Linda was part of the fast crowd, we called them “greasers”. I was crushed. The Ouija board said he was mine. How could this happen? To hide my hurt, I acted like I didn’t care. I would show him.

Less than a week later, when the head chef at work asked me out for the umpteenth time, I finally said yes. What was his name? Remember the time cards - RON! Maybe the Ouija board was not wrong, I just had focused on the incorrect Ron. This Ron (let’s call him RON #2) was just the ticket to convince RON #1 I didn’t need him.

RON #2 was a man. He was five years older than me with a good job and a cool Corvair convertible. For our first date he took me to a fancy Italian restaurant called Corrados. I had food I had never heard of, but I enjoyed it. His parents lived on the Chain ‘O Lakes and had a boat. That summer, I perfected my waterskiing. You could say RON #2 took me places I had never been and taught me another side of life. Nine months later I was Mrs. RON #2. In the beginning I was thrilled to be away from my parents’ house and rules. Soon I realized I had traded my mother giving me orders for my domineering husband.

We did not live happily ever after. RON #2 was not pleased that the 18-year-old he married grew up and changed. The greatest blessing I took from this marriage was my amazing first-born son, Rob. Fast forward seven years and RON #2 and I were divorcing. As fate would have it, RON #1 was also in the midst of a divorce. We came close to re-connecting, but our reunion was short lived. We had both transformed our lives in different directions. He had picked up a toxic habit -drugs. The RON #1 bubble was permanently burst.

It was 1973 and I had all but forgotten the Ouija board. I met a friend of my sisters’ coworker, a Viet Nam vet named “JEFF” who became my husband #2. The great thing about him? He was the opposite of RON #2 who had treated me like a child that needed constant supervision. Jeff gave me the new untested roll of manager of everything. I will always be thankful for Jeff adopting my older son Rob and the two of us creating a second fantastic son, Mike. This little boy was the next greatest gift of my life. Jeffs’ dream was to be his own boss and live on a lake. We bought a bar up in the Northwoods of Hayward, WI. and moved our little family there. We had no idea of what we were doing. We never even looked at the books before we made the decision. Our union lasted eleven years. His personal demons did us in. For the next seven years I was a twice divorced single mom of two boys on my own. I felt like a failure, who knows without Rob and Mike to keep me grounded, that may have been true.

All this time, unbeknown to me, RON #3 was always nearby. He was in my orbit, but not on my radar. Even from birth, we were close, born in the same Chicago hospital. He lived in Des Plaines, IL not far from me in Mt. Prospect. When my grandparents would ride the bus out from Chicago to visit, we would pick them up at the end of the bus line in Des Plaines. The bus station was just blocks from RON #3s house. During my high school years, after I got my drivers license, there was a local drive-in called Big Boys. I used to hang out there with my girlfriends. We would just cruise around the parking lot checking out the cars and looking at boys. RON #3 was there too, showing off his first car a Tropic Turquoise color ’57 Chevy convertible, but we never met. When I married RON #2, we had our wedding reception at a place called Flying Carpet in Rosemont not far from Des Plaines. Where did RON #3 and his first wife have their reception? The same place! Both couples lived only a few miles apart. RON #2 and I even had close friends that lived in the same apartment complex as RON #3 and his wife. We were there often for cards or parties. I may have even admired RON #3s Corvette in the parking lot. Still, we never met. Can you count the coincidences?

Believe it or not I didn’t meet RON #3 until 1989. A close friend of JEFFs (ex-husband #2) sent me and my dented car to the body shop where RON #3 worked. There he was in his blue and gray work uniform with his name printed over his heart “RON”. He had a deep sexy voice and a great laugh. There was an instant spark of attraction but since he was married the timing was not right.

My car was named “Hal” the talking Chrysler New Yorker. He would say things in his mechanical voice like: “fasten your seat belt” or “your door is ajar”. I bought Hal used because he was a good deal. The highlight of the car was the turbo engine. When I was sitting in the car driving it was a sweet ride. If I had to look at it, well, let’s just say it was an old lady car featuring a plush blue velour interior, and I was not an old lady yet!

Two years later the car I never liked became the vehicle that brought me back to RON #3. Paint began to peel off Hals’ hood, so I returned to the body shop dressed in a black and yellow striped top and a white mini skirt. This time RON #3 was now single and flirting. He claims I stung him wearing my “bee” outfit and we were soon inseparable. I am happy to report that the 3rd time was indeed a charm, RON #3 is now husband #3 and we have been together 30 wonderful years!

The moral of the story? Following the Ouija board and trying to see Gods’ plan for my future cost me 20+ years of wandering in my own vast, barren desert. I’m sure this little drama made Satan laugh. I understand now why the bible forbids spiritualism. Today I live by faith and trust in the Lords’ plan.


Janis is a typical baby boomer, influenced by the era she grew up in: JFK – The Beatles - the moon landing -Viet Nam. The oldest of five girls, Janis always wished for the impossible, an older brother. A psychic once told her, “I see you in your old age surrounded by the men who love you.” Her hope for boys was eventually realized. She is married with two sons, two stepsons and four grandsons. All of her great passions: golf , writing and pickleball came later in her life after a range of careers (waitress, Tupperware demonstrator, accountant, banker, Northwood’s bar owner, purchasing manager).
 
Growing up in the Chicago area, she writes about the times and places most familiar to her. “Sand Fly” (a crime story) was her first novel. “The Romanov Remnant” (alternative history) is the second. Some of the same characters are featured in both novels which are available in paperback & eBook @ amazon.com. Janis lives contentedly in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas with her husband, their chunky rescue cat Chelsey, and her extensive shoe collection.



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