Back in the 1960s, during my young, single airline-stewardess days, I shared a funky, one-bedroom furnished apartment with two Fairview Hospital nurses. It was on the second floor of a 1930s Tudor house that had been converted into apartments. It was in southeast Minneapolis, near Dinkytown.
Roomie Geri’s upright piano was squeezed into the bedroom, and there was only one bathroom. Despite cramped quarters, we three got along famously with each other, and also with the collection of bohemian characters who inhabited the other apartments in the house.
U of M students, their pets and one bona fide beatnik — interacting with them was like a scene from the hilarious 1942 movie, My Sister Eileen. I haven’t had that much fun since!
In 1977, I was ready to abandon roommates and live alone. Following a new trend among unmarried career women, I purchased a condominium. Previously, home ownership was almost exclusively reserved for married couples — and during that era most women fully expected to get married.
However, with their consciousness raised by the women’s liberation movement, a great many decided not to wait for “Mr. Right” to come along, and decided to strike out on their own.
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act opened the door for them/us. Passed into law in 1974, the ECOA was created to ensure women and other protected groups received equal lending opportunities. Although it seems incredible today, before the act was passed, U.S. banks required single women to bring a man along to co-sign any credit application, regardless of their income. Banks also routinely charged women higher interest rates than men with comparable incomes.
Our two-story home
As for me, eventually I did get married. My husband and I built a small two-story house in Woodbury. Sharing my new home with my new husband should have been a wonderful experience. However, once we moved in, neither of us particularly liked it.
The rooms seemed too small. I came to dread all the stair-climbing involved with having the laundry in the basement. The neighborhood was filled with young families. The family right next door put in a swimming pool and proceeded to have noisy late-night pool parties.
Then, on one warm June evening, an unimaginable and complicated tragedy occurred in that house. It seemed everything that could go wrong did go wrong — with the horrifying conclusion that the police shot and killed the young owner, a father.
A pall was cast over the neighborhood. We moved away shortly thereafter, but the shock lingered for a long while.
I often reminisce about these places. Each one marked a major turning point in my life — from frivolous single woman to independent single woman to married woman. Of the three, the apartment, not surprisingly, comes to mind often.
It was the best of times. I was experiencing the joie de vivre of young womanhood. The world was just opening up for me. … Who knew what lie ahead?
Carol Hall lives in Woodbury. She’s a longtime freelance writer, a University of Minnesota graduate and a former Northwest Airlines stewardess. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.