Have to get up bright and early tomorrow morning, well early anyway, to start my new job over at Ball Brothers in El Monte. It is strictly temporary, they are going to lay off girls in a couple of months. I have different shifts and they change every week. They are from 7am in the morning till 3pm, 3am to 11am, and 11pm to 7am. I have to take every one of those shifts, one at a time that is. I’ll probably quit when I get tired of it. Went to bed at 8:30. It only costs me $0.10 cents a day for transportation.
Wednesday June 4, 1952
Oh boy, am I dead today, all I do is make boxes all day on an assembly line. All of my muscles that I never use are all beat. Oh well at least my arms are getting limber, might as well look at the bright side of it. I make $1.13 an hour, pay $0.10 cents for transportation, no other expenses, and I come out with the same amount of money I made in L.A., and I don’t have to make that long trip back and forth.
Thursday June 5, 1952
Worked today and I feel beat down and trampled. Don’t have to work tomorrow thank goodness, so I can sleep till noon. Tonight me and Lorea went to see some friends at Senior Class Night at El Monte High School, and in one word it was terrific. Afterwards we went to The Pioneer Café and had a drink and listened to all the black musicians. Got in about 12:30 am.
Saturday June 7, 1952
Worked from 11pm to 7am last night and this morning, I didn’t get up till 3:30pm. Went up to The Stomp tonight and really had the ball. Met Bill Weller, he’s 6-foot tall and 165 lbs, and a good looking guy. Me, him and his buddy Glenn went to The Pioneer Café after the dance and it was really jumping tonight. Then we were invited to a party and we had a lush time, I must have looked extra nice tonight or something because I sure was popular. Bob the “Oddo” even asked me to go out with him. Bill was sure having a rough time keeping me for himself, not that I am conceited, it’s just that I’ve got a high opinion of myself. I like Bill, he is pretty fine and he told me he liked me.
Sunday June 8, 1952
Went to the beach today with Bill, and got Caroline my new neighbor for Glenn and we took out for Belmont Shores. We had a terrific time.
Tonight Bill took me to a drive-in, but I sure didn’t see much of it. He told me that he loved me tonight and he kept calling me “darling.” I guess I got him terribly heated with French kissing him and rubbing him and all. I felt him about all over, except for the main part of course, and I sure shouldn’t have done any of that. God darn I like him so much.
I also got into a terrific fight with him tonight because he wouldn’t let me go, he had his hand clear down the back of my girdle, so I told him “Let me go, and I want to go home.” Then he asked me to go steady and I said “NO, at this rate you’ll make me in a week. You’re just going farther and farther and its only two dates since we’ve known each other.”
He told me he was so sorry and he took me home, and said he’d never try anything like that again. He said “Don’t go in yet, I don’t want to say good-bye like this.” Then we just talked and talked, and he told me a bunch of stories about the Navy and when he was overseas and all. I told him I didn’t believe he loved me, but he said he’d write me every other day. So I said “God Bless You and goodbye”, and then he took off for the base in San Diego. So we will see, at least I didn’t commit myself any by telling him that I love him. I wouldn’t even tell him that I like him, so if he doesn’t write it's not going to break my heart any.
Monday June 9, 1952
Worked this morning till 4:30 am and got fired today. Oh boy what a life I lead, the Boss said I was too slow. Oh well, didn’t like the assembly line anyhow.
Wednesday June 11, 1952
I forgot to tell you last week I received a letter from Charles Wallace’s mother, she says she hasn’t heard form Charles in two months and wants to know if I’ve heard from him lately. (He is still serving in Korea). I wrote to her tonight and told her I haven’t heard from him in about that time. Oh I hope I didn’t grieve her too much, but I most probably did.
I got a letter today from Bill. He says he really meant it about loving me and he wasn’t feeding me a line like I said he was. Wrote back to him tonight. Man I sure do like him, but it probably won’t be for long. I’m too fickle.
Well, the assembly line and Vilma was most assuredly not a match made in heaven! You may of course recognize the name Ball Brothers as the creators of the iconic Mason jar. Since the company originated in the 1800’s, the Mason jar has been reliably used throughout the decades for preserving food, particularly jams and jellies. Original vintage glass jars are a treasure to find and are highly desired. Nowadays they have grown in popularity for, well, just about anything you can think of!
The substantially sized corrugated building was formerly located on the North East corner of Valley Blvd and Arden Drive. Probably torn down sometime around the 1980's, the original lot now houses a newer Department of Motor Vehicles and in the very near future, El Monte’s first Wal Mart. (for better or worse)
So at least for a few days Vilma dabbles in factory work, along with dozens of other young men and women trying to make their way in the world. Obviously this factory lacked the fancy automated machinery of today’s world, so one can only imagine that they needed some really fast hands to assemble all of those card board boxes. All day, every day, painstakingly tedious, one after another, after another, after another. No thank you!
Even though she hates the work I still love Vilma’s spirit of positivity here, as she always tries to see the silver lining in the situation. “Oh well at least my arms are getting limber, might as well look at the bright side of it”.
But oh my, what to do with that fickle heart of hers! An irresistibly handsome, and most importantly tall Navy guy named Bill has arrived. Now that Jim, that lovelorn fiery halitosis-breathed dragon is finally out of the picture for now, Vilma has moved on to her next victim.
Is it true love? Will good ol’ Bill be the one guy who can tame her wild heart? On this Valentine's Day, the passion flower tale of Bill and Vilma is only just beginning… in all of its fickleness-y glory. Stay tuned!