Early Marriage | Part 15

by Elouise


It’s fall 1965, just months after our wedding. Today I’m going to meet D’s Uncle G. for the first time. He’s in the photo above.

Right now we’re getting ready to drive to New York City. D is wearing his best suit, a white dress shirt with cuff links, and a skinny tie. The left cuff link has a small clock face that actually tells the time of day. A windup version. Always impressive.

I’m wearing my going-away outfit from our wedding. It’s the nicest outfit I own: a soft ivory knit two-piece suit with a straight not-too-long or too-short skirt, pearls, pointed-toe chocolate-brown leather alligator pumps, and matching pocketbook. No pillbox hat this time. We’re not going to church.

We are, however, going to meet Uncle G. From D’s stories about him, I know Uncle G is particular about clothes. It won’t do to look poor. Of course we’re not really poor. It’s just that compared with him, we probably come across as less than fiscally astute.

There’s no big money in my family. By comparison, it seems D’s family is rolling in it. Especially Uncle G. He’s an experienced business man and knows how to make money. This is an unknown world to me. Still, I’m eager to meet Uncle G.

We drive from Cambridge to New York City, park across from the United Nations Headquarters, and take an elevator to Uncle G’s floor. He lives in an apartment with a magnificent view of the UN Headquarters. When we ring the doorbell, Uncle G opens the door, smiling and gracious.

The moment the door opens I’m aware he’s looking me over. I get a nice compliment on my outfit. I think I passed initial inspection. He invites us in. We’ll be lunching in his apartment with a view.

You might think Uncle G spends a fortune to live here. But he doesn’t. He’s been here for decades, benefiting from the city’s rent-control policy. In fact, he’s paying less per month than we are for our second-floor apartment in Cambridge!

How do I know this? Because during lunch he tells us all about it. I’m a good listener. This goes over well with Uncle G. That’s good, since I don’t want to talk about my family. Especially about money.

Uncle G’s money began with an invention, followed by other inventions and even more money. He seems to know what people want that will make them happy or at least happier.

His first big hit wasn’t fancy. In fact, it had a slightly bad smell, and had to be used over and over. Back then people didn’t worry about chemicals or toxins in the air or around the house. I can’t count how many times my family purchased and used Johnston’s No-Roach Pesticide.

Just below is a newspaper ad from the Lake Charles American-Press, 31 July 1961. “This is the marvelous Johnston’s No-Roach which will put an end to any roach problem you have. … No need to move dishes or breathe harmful sprays. … It is apt to spoil the image of a well taken care of home.”

Johnston No-Roach ad 1961

Johnston No-Roach Pesticide

Like the ad says, it isn’t a spray. It’s in a bottle with a brush to paint the nasty stuff on counters, floors, walls, and other places roaches like to visit. We’re already using it in Cambridge. We don’t want to spoil the image of our well taken care of apartment.

Before we leave, Uncle G gives us something. Another invention, though not his. It’s a small hand-cranked washing machine made in Germany. It’s practical, small, economical, and sturdy. Just what he loves to see. He’s thinking about becoming a USA distributor for this product.

old washing machine with crank, shutterstock

So I take it back to Cambridge and try it out. Fabulous! For decades I use it in the bathtub for all my hand washables. It works like a charm, saves money, and I didn’t have to pay a penny for it.

So there you have it. An introduction to Uncle G that’s really an introduction to Money. The next post on early marriage will also be about money.

To be continued….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 May 2015
Photo credit: Photo of Uncle G (unknown, in our personal collection); Johnston’s no-Roach Ad found on http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/817105; hand-cranked washing machine from shutterstock.com