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The Life and Romances of Jennifer

The Life and Romances of Jennifer

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The Life and Romances of Jennifer

235 Seiten
3 Stunden
Mar 18, 2016


Jennifer is the stirring story of a teen-age girl who lifts her family out of poverty by starting a lawnmower service. She is a hard worker and a perfectionist. The business grows to 3 trucks and 9 workers. The story begins in 1954. In the following ten years she successfully starts and runs three more businesses. The story relates her 4 romances, some tragic, and concludes with the love of her life who she meets on a cruise.

Mar 18, 2016

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The Life and Romances of Jennifer - Ron Jay

Chapter 1

Jennifer was lying alone in a bed in the darkened room of a hospital. Through the window she could see the faintest light in the sky, which would be the beginning of a new day. Somehow, the woman knew that this would be her last day. The pain was beginning again. The morphine that had been injected into her hours ago, was beginning to lose its’ effectiveness. She reached across the bed for the button that would summon the nurse and then hesitated. The morphine would put her into a stupor, unable to think or reason. Jennifer desperately wanted to be awake and aware during her last hours. She knew that she was approaching her final hours before death. The woman was afraid, and yet, welcomed the thought of being released from the pain and the hopeless prison of her diseased body.

She felt another spasm of pain. This time, it was more persistent as the cancer ate into her liver and lungs. It was unbearable. The woman reached over to call for help. Her hand trembled and then fell, unresponsive, onto her chest. She felt a blackness sweep over her and then the pain stopped.

Jennifer experienced a mysterious lightness sweeping over her. She was amazed to see that she was now floating toward the ceiling of the room. Looking down, she saw her body lying on the bed. She looked pale and emaciated. Her hair was a horrible mess. In the final days, before entering the hospital, her hairdresser had cut her hair very short, so it would be more manageable for washing and combing. Now, it was tangled and gray. Instinctively, she reached up to her hair and was surprised to see that it was once again a long, flowing cascade of jet-black hair. The woman pulled several strands of it across her shoulder and rubbed it gently against her cheek. It was then that she saw her hand. It was pleasingly slender. The arthritic swelling of her knuckles was gone. The purple, raised veins that she had always hated were now returned to normal.

The reality of an afterlife shocked her! Jennifer was no longer afraid of death! The woman had passed through death and was now on the other mysterious side. She felt a gentle pulling, directing her toward the window and the sky. She resisted it, however. It was too soon!

Looking down at the shell of the body that had housed her being and essence, she began remembering her life as Jennifer.

The most important part of her life had started when she turned sixteen. Life, as she knew it, had been a constant struggle. Her father had left the family when she was two years old. They never saw him again. Her mother worked as a secretary for a small appliance sales company. Her Income was barely sufficient for their basic needs. After the rent on their small apartment had been paid, there was very little money left from her weekly paycheck. Jennifer’s mother, Lucy, did not have a high school diploma. Lucy had very little ambition or self-esteem. She had remained at the same job for thirteen years, despite the low pay and constant abuse she suffered from her boss. Jennifer had started nagging her mother about looking for another job when she was fourteen years old. She had finally stopped confronting her mother about this after realizing that Lucy would never have the ambition or courage to go out and interview for a new job.

Jennifer was now a sophomore in high school. It was the time in a girl’s life when she was confronted with the judgment of her peers. No part of American society can be crueler than a group of teenagers. Jennifer was an attractive girl. She had long, black hair which she combed straight down her back. Her mother, Lucy, unfortunately, was her hairdresser. She was very inept with scissors, but they could not afford to send her to a salon. The resulting haircut was very plain and simple, often jagged and unmanageable. This, and Jennifer’s sparse, outdated clothing, earned her constant teasing from her classmates. She, also, could not afford to participate in the movies and parties that her classmates enjoyed. The result was that she was always an outsider, doomed to ridicule, scorn, and to be the receiver of practical jokes.

Jenny had been born in 1940. The late 1940’s, when Jenny was in grade school, had been a unique period in American history. The war had ended on both fronts. GI’s were flocking home by the tens of thousands. They had money they had saved, accumulated during years of combat, when they could not spend their service allotments. Their wives had worked in the mills and factories, earning all the lucrative overtime pay they wanted. Consumer goods were flowing into the marketplace. Houses were being built at a frantic pace to satisfy the demand by couples who were moving out of their parent’s homes. Jobs were plentiful and they were filled by a generation who had an awesome work-ethic.

In the 1950s’, Rock and Roll was making a radical change in the music of the post-war generation of teens. Their parents were working hard to make up for the lost war years. For the first time, wives were working full-time jobs. They had very little time to pay attention to their children. The parents had lived their childhood years in the depths of the Depression. They were determined to provide their children with more spending money and better clothes. It was becoming a much more permissive time for the new generation of youth, especially those who were in their teens. As a group, they had a new sense of identity.

However, at this time, Jennifer’s mother was having a more difficult time surviving on her meager wages. Lucy was being paid minimum wage—$1 an hour. After taxes, she brought home $32 a week. The rent on their two room efficiency apartment consumed half of this, leaving no extra money after buying food for the two of them. An allowance for Jennifer was impossible. She owned two skirts, three blouses and a pair of worn jeans. This was her entire school outfit. The girls in her class were wearing the new style of wide, flaring skirts, underneath which they had layers of fluffy, lace petticoats. Others wore new Levis jeans that were skin tight. They visited hair salons regularly. All of this was the result of the new affluent, two-income society. Jennifer realized she would never belong to this clique of teens. She felt increasingly alone and isolated.

The girl did not feel any anger or resentment, however. Her circumstances offered her only two outlets. She could drown in self-pity and senseless anger, or intelligently work to improve her life. Jennifer had always had a practical, analytic mind. At this age, she began feeling an awakening—a driving urge to change her life.

Expecting her mother to get a raise in salary or find another job was a hopeless dream. It was becoming increasingly obvious that Jennifer should get a part-time job to help the family. The thought of working behind an ice cream counter, or stocking shelves in a grocery store, for a minimum wage, was repulsive to the girl. Jennifer did the math, and knew that this would give her only eight or ten dollars a week. It would seriously affect her studies at school. The girl, above all, was determined to get at least a high school diploma. It was painfully obvious to her how her mother had been handicapped by not having a high school diploma.

She realized that she would somehow have to become self-employed and determine her own income. The only resource Jenny had to offer was her own labor. She had no particular expertise to offer anyone. She began walking through the streets after school, attempting to find a way she could earn a decent income for herself. Gradually, she became aware of the spacious green lawns that she saw farther out in the suburbs. It was early spring, and, already, the grass was beginning to grow profusely. Several of the lawns she saw should have been cut weeks ago.

She nervously walked up to the door of one of these houses. It was built of orange bricks, two stories high with huge windows. The wide concrete driveway led to a two-car garage that was a part of the house. It had a large lawn that had not been mowed. She rang the doorbell, hearing the deep sound of multiple chimes. After a minute, an elderly man opened the door.

I’m sorry to bother you, Sir, she began. It was suddenly difficult to talk. Her mouth and throat had become dry. I noticed that your lawn needs to be mowed. I do that type of work after school.

The man looked critically at the girl. She was tall and lanky, probably weighing less than 80 pounds. She was wearing a modest blouse and faded blue jeans. She returned his stare without blinking. The man had employed people all of his adult life. He could instinctively sense that she was one of the world’s serious, hard workers. She had enough ambition, and drive, to come up and knock on his door. He decided to give the girl a chance.

How much would you want to mow the lawn, front and back, he asked.

Jennifer thought for a moment before answering. She wanted to earn at least five times minimum wage, which would be five dollars an hour. It would probably take two hours to mow a lawn this large. It would also have to be raked afterward, adding another hour. Another big consideration would be whether the man had an old-fashioned push mower, or one of the new motorized mowers. It was a large, expensive house. The man obviously was well-off. It was unlikely that he was personally using the older model of push mower.

Could I see what type of mower you have? She said.

The man smiled. He owned a large moving and storage company. He recognized when someone was intelligent enough to bid correctly on a job. It was refreshing to see this quality in such a young person. Until now, he had been bringing one of his employees over to the house to mow the lawn. Often, the employee would not do a satisfactory job. Another big consideration was the time he would personally lose by bringing the employee to his house and then returning him to work afterward. None of these workers owned a car.

I have a new 22 inch, two horsepower mower. I’ll show you how to start it, he said. I expect the lawn to be raked afterward. How much would you charge?

Seventeen dollars, the girl immediately answered.

Jennifer was careful to continue looking directly at the man, without blinking, as she waited for his reply.

Would you do it for ten dollars? He said.

No, Sir, she answered. You have to understand that the difference between ten dollars and seventeen dollars is a good, quality job. I’m only interested in doing good work.

Jennifer wanted to get this job, but she reasoned that there were many other lawns out there waiting for her. This man could definitely afford to pay what she had asked. He was spending a great deal of money to have a house that was much bigger than he needed. The appearance of the house was obviously very important to him. It was a status symbol, much the same as the Cadillac that he had parked in the driveway.

The man smiled again. He appreciated the boldness in the girl’s answer. Her reply made a great deal of sense, even though a bad job of mowing grass was the same as a bad haircut. Both grew back in two weeks. The difference in money was not important to him. Seven dollars was what he tipped his caddy at the golf course on Sunday. He also looked forward to seeing the girl as she matured to womanhood. His supervision at his warehouse gave him precious little contact with females. It left a large gap in his social interaction with women. The girl had beautiful facial features and the promise of a future, extremely attractive feminine figure. He was not sexually attracted to Jennifer, but he recognized that she would become the type of person he would enjoy having as a friend in the future. He led her to the garage and showed her how to control the mower and how to add gas. He started the mower and turned it over to her.

Jennifer pushed the roaring machine out onto the driveway. She had never mowed a lawn before and had never before touched a piece of machinery. She was a bit afraid, but determined to do a good job after stating how the extra seven dollars was worth extra effort and care. The girl paused for a minute, attempting to reason how she could mow the lawn carefully, and, also, with the least effort. She pushed the lawnmower onto the grass and saw immediately that the clippings were dropping in a small pile from the chute at the right side of the mower. This gave her the idea of how to minimize the raking of the grass.

She pulled the lawnmower back onto the driveway and guided it down the driveway to the street. She then began cutting the grass by keeping one wheel on the edge of the driveway until she reached the house. This gave her an absolute straight line for her first cut. She again pushed the mower down to the street over the driveway. Following the pile of cut grass on the mowers left wheel, she again carefully cut all the way to the house. This picked up all the clippings and laid them down in a larger pile. She then turned the mower and went back to the street, this time following the clippings with the right wheel. She now had a much larger pile, but she could see that the mower was beginning to struggle. She again repeated this formula over and over. Instead of raking three piles, she was now raking one, larger pile. It cut the work substantially by two-thirds.

When she was finished, she carefully looked over the result of her mowing. The one part of the lawn that looked sloppy was where the grass grew haphazardly over the concrete edge of the driveway. Jennifer went into the man’s garage and picked out a flat, spaded shovel. She began cutting away the grass that was spreading over the concrete, leaving a neat, dirt edge to the concrete. When Jennifer was finished, she went to the front door and pressed the button for the doorbell. She once again heard the melodic chimes and, soon, the elderly man opened the door.

I’m finished! Jennifer cheerfully announced.

Her customer stepped out onto the driveway and critically examined her work.

You did a nice job! He finally said.

I could have made it look more even, and less ragged, if the grass hadn’t been so high, Jennifer said. I could come here, at the same time, every two weeks. It would also give me a chance to trim the edges more carefully.

She waited for his reply. It would be a godsend if she could do this regularly.

I think that would be a good arrangement, the man answered, smiling.

He pulled out his wallet and handed Jennifer two crisp, ten-dollar bills.

There’s a little extra for doing the edging along the driveway, he said. I can see that it really adds a lot to the appearance of the house.

Thank you! Jennifer said. If it’s more convenient, you can leave the mower and gasoline outside on every second Monday. I’ll do an even better job next time, and, if you’re not here, I’ll leave my bill and an envelope. You can mail me a check. If it’s raining that day, I’ll be here on the next day, when it’s dry.

He nodded in agreement. This relieved him of one more worry about the house. He wouldn’t have to ferry workers back and forth and lose valuable working hours. He was confident the girl would do a good job. His original assessment had been correct. The girl was one of the world’s hard workers.

Jennifer extended her hand to him. They shook hands twice. The man nodded and turned to walk back to the house.

I think this’ll work out fine, he said as he walked away.

Jennifer waved in reply. She walked up the street, trying to look calm and business-like. In less than four hours, she had earned half as much money as her mother made in a week!

Chapter 2

Jennifer caressed the two ten-dollar bills that she held in the pocket of her jeans. It was the first money she had ever earned! She was already planning how to spend the money. Another pair of jeans was high on the list. The faded blue-jeans that she was now wearing were grass-stained and definitely were no longer suited for school. That would cost three dollars. She stopped at a grocery store and purchased bread, milk, and, as a special treat, she bought a pound of ground

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