The Stranger Alongside Me

Stranger Beside Me cover

In 1974, a few months after I started working in the same doctor’s office that I wrote about in Little Women, I triaged a woman with a severe and painful case of shingles. As we talked she told me something as if she were desperate to unload a terrible secret. She had witnessed the aftermath of a murder and then been chased by a pickup truck, and was tailgated so closely she couldn’t see its license plate. I ushered the woman into an exam room so “Bernie,” the doctor I supported, could see her. Afterwards, he and I didn’t discuss the woman’s diagnosis, but I did tell him how I’d been pursued by a pickup just before coming to work with him.

Continue reading “The Stranger Alongside Me”

Otitis Tedia

Girl and Man photo image

At this point fluoride in drinking water (not to mention toothpaste) is so widespread that we might not remember a time when its use was controversial. I personally don’t think that adding it to our water supply is wise, but I won’t discuss that here. I’ll simply recall my own experience with fluoride in the 1960s as something to keep in mind. Continue reading “Otitis Tedia”

Little Women

Graduating Class photo image

Comment by David Hughes: From the time I became aware of the Industrial Workers of the World, decades ago, I’ve called my wife Andrea Carney “the accidental Wobbly.” The Wobblies’ modus operandi is to organize on the job and call for what’s needed—if not take over the means of production entirely. Here’s the story of how Andrea did the former. It’s taken me months to get her to tell this story, and I’m so grateful that she has.

In 1973 my then-husband left his business to become a freelancer. We needed money so I decided to go back to work—at the Bullock’s department store in Sherman Oaks. Meanwhile I enrolled in a medical assistant training program at Los Angeles Valley College and received my certificate six months later. After a month of internship I looked for a job. Continue reading “Little Women”

I coulda been a bartendah!

Andrea Carney photo image

—with apologies to Marlon Brando

On the eve of PrideFest here in Denver I thought I’d reminisce by telling about a particular visit to a lesbian bar in the Los Angeles area.

I started hanging out with Judith1 in 1959 or 1960 when we both worked at a North Hollywood manufacturing plant, Borg-Warner, making electronics for aeronautics.2 One night she convinced me to go on a double date and I agreed. But I could tell that my guy wasn’t really into me; he seemed to be interested in her. And Judith’s guy wasn’t really into her, so we swapped partners. (The three of them had gone through school together and at some point the district allowed girls to wear pants. These same two boys—our dates—had been so angry at this change that on the day it went into effect they attended class in dresses.)

After a bad experience with a guy, Judith told me she was swearing off men and she’d occasionally invite me to go with her to lesbian bars. At the time, North Hollywood and Studio City were known for having several that catered to women and to men. Later she (and her son) and I got a two-bedroom apartment together in North Hollywood. Continue reading “I coulda been a bartendah!”