In 1960, shortly after Alfred Hitchcock filmed the movie, Psycho, IFO fled an overwhelming university atmosphere and moved to Phoenix, Arizona. She picked Phoenix because her boyfriend at the time was stationed in Flagstaff in the Air Force. He helped her find a place to live: a boarding house called The White House in a residential neighborhood one block from downtown and it had a huge swimming pool.
Her parents were devastated and terrified – she was dropping out of college and moving out of state!!! She learned later that friends of her parents consoled them by saying, “Don’t worry. She’ll come running home in a few weeks.” We have no idea what they were thinking, but we do know they didn’t know us.
She found a job immediately. “Office manager,” at the commercial department of a local stationery story six blocks from the house. She sold Verifax copiers, re-wrote marketing letters and gave sales spiels to the infrequent visitors. One time she copied a memoir brought in by an aging Mormon. She got a fabulous education and developed her individual investing and financial management style – though she didn’t know that then.
She had grown up in a little county seat in New Mexico where there wasn’t a store for miles around. When her family moved to California, it was the same – no stores for miles around. Hence, she got into the habit early of saving her money rather than spending it.
Her room and two daily meals at the boarding house cost $22 a week. She got paid $50 a week. She continued her self-imposed rule from her early days of saving half of anything she made and spending the rest. That means she had $3 a week to “blow” on anything she chose. Doesn’t sound like much, but remember breakfast cost 25 cents, lunch cost 50 cents and dinner was a dollar in those days.
Meanwhile, her education was proceeding apace. She picked up a book on palmistry local county library two blocks from the boarding house. She’d sit out on the front porch of The White House after dinner and read the palms of whatever resident was sitting there, The residential gender mix was 70 men and seven women. They taught her important lessons about life in the wild West – self-defense tactics, guitar playing, horseback riding, rodeoing.
She’d look at the book on palmistry, then look at a hand, then ask, “Do you often fly off the handle?” Startled, he would admit that he did. She did many similar corroborating tests before she was finally convinced there was a lot to the “science” of palmistry. Not good for predicting the future, but good for analysing character.
At the end of a year, she had had enough. She had saved $1000 and bought half of a motorcycle during that time. She had the freedom and independence to leave when she wanted to leave. She had bought a big trunk into which she packed her accumulated stuff, hopped on a bus, and went back to college, where her real life began.
Oh, and the boy friend? He couldn’t handle the new and improved IFO and ditched her.