Looking around, I got a job with the American Association of Retired Persons
) as a speech writer
for the executive director
Speech writing was a minor part of what I was doing. The director liked to develop his own approaches, keeping his presentations informal. He was quite pleased with me, however, because I purchased a joke book and put jokes into his speeches. He may have used my organization of ideas as well. Whatever, we were satisfied with one another.
This freed me to look around for other tasks. I helped a little here and there which made me accepted and filled my time constructively.
The founder of AARP had worked very closely with a teacher. They had a professional partnership which was famous throughout the membership. She had died sometime before I came on board. When we were preparing for a major convention way out in Iowa, one member of the staff suggested that the director and I do a dual presentation. This was, no doubt, reminiscent of activities when the teacher was around.
I was glad to oblige. Though I have had very few opportunities to make speeches, I do a good job of it when the occasion arises. So we set up with the director on one side of the stage and me on the other to do a dialogue.
I was having some personal problems at the time. My middle son, a child of the sixties, had vagabonded to Jamaica in search of a hero. When the hero had tried to send some marijuana back with my son he got caught. My husband and I had to go down to Florida to bail him out. I took the helpless feelings this situation aroused with me when we left for Iowa and the convention.
The dialogue was part of the introductory material and it was a huge success. When it was over, I retired to my motel. Exhausted both physically and emotionally, I took a bottle of bourbon out to the swimming pool to unwind. I unwound too much because when I went in to get ready for dinner I realized that I was going to be late for dinner. I dressed in a big hurry and rushed over to the dinner site. I had trouble finding a seat, but I did find one and as far as I knew everything was fine.
The convention was a big success. Having done my presentation early on, I was free too roam about and get acquainted with some of the participants. I cornered an Irishman who had a story about the Loch Ness Monster. I used an interview format and wrote a neat little article for our publication.
When the convention was over we all flew back to Washington and took a day off to recover. When I went back to work, one of the staff members called me into his office. When I got there he handed me a check for two weeks work and told me to leave immediately and not come back! When I asked him why, he said that I wore my wig askew at dinner that first night. They had just gotten rid of one alcoholic, and they wanted nothing to do with another.
I had to admit to myself that they were right. The years I worked at the labor union were drinking years. All the clandestine meetings I attended with the International Organizer were drinking times. I can hold more liquor than most men, but I did drink too much poolside after our successful dialogue at the convention.