Back at home in the city, around those years, my parents, who were both immigrants, belonged to a group which – I am not sure, but I think – was some sort of Labor Union for certain immigrants, to help them get a job, or otherwise to provide some type of financial and community support.
Chaver L., an old man with very white skin and pink cheeks and floppy lips, a huge fat stomach and snow white hair was the ‘contact’ for our family. One day I had been sent by my mother to the building that housed this organization, to get some paperwork. It was only a few blocks away, but I had asked my friend, Lettie to walk there with me. It was no secret that I had no sense of direction and was always getting lost – still a common event for me!
Lettie lived at the corner of my block on Belvedere Street. We went to elementary school together but she was not in my 6th grade class. She had a mane of thick, flaming red hair, and very white alabaster skin. Everyone said she was so beautiful. She was, but most kids were rather afraid of her. Lettie was a domineering type and had no patience with anybody about anything! She was very outspoken and quick to anger. Yet she had taken an interest in me! She wanted to be my friend! Well, I was afraid of her too, since she was bossy, always aggressive and she’d snap at anyone in a heartbeat, while I was quite a wimp. She had made all sorts of overtures to me; I was puzzled that she ‘chose’ me, but I felt that once I was taken under her wing, if anyone tried to bother us (me actually!) – well, Lettie wouldn’t have it! So I felt lucky, ‘safe’ with her.
When Lettie and I arrived at the building, Chaver L. took us into a room with a gigantic oak table and many oaken chairs. There were several typewriters on that table and stacks of white envelopes and papers set up at various chairs. I’d seen such machines, but never used one, and touched the keys gingerly. I was quite interested, and Chaver L. noticed. He asked if I wanted to learn how to type on it. I said ‘yes’ and he smiled.
So he had me sit on his lap, his big belly pushing at my back. Then he positioned me between his legs and put my hands on the keyboard. He put a fresh sheet of paper into the machine and rolled his chair forward – pinning me between the heavy oak table and his legs. He pulled me further onto his lap, locked both his arms around me and rolled even closer. I did not say anything, but desperately glared at Lettie, hoping she’d ‘save’ me. I figured she’d surely say something or call someone. But no such luck; she didn’t even glance at me and did not seem to notice my predicament at all. Lettie was busily looking around at various several smaller cabinets and drawers and opening them all to explore.
Chaver L. smiled at me with his fat pink face, and I saw missing teeth and a wet tongue, brimming with saliva, as he started to show me how to type my name. He guided my hands onto the keys – and I started to type. I began putting my name on the paper, concentrating on that, and then I realized he started feeling for my panties and stuck his fat fingers into my vulva under the table. I was nearly 12 years old and I did have some bit of hair on it and I was very sensitive to the touch. I shifted and pulled back but he was behind me – so no way out.
I turned my head and looked at him, incredulous that he would actually do such a thing, as Lettie was right there! But she was not at all aware of the situation under the table. I felt entirely trapped; yet I couldn’t help but look down at Chaver L.’s crotch and there was his penis, erect and quite red, looking back at me. It was entirely revolting – and he was entirely revolting! I felt slightly sick and slightly alarmed, and I am sure my face showed it!
He actually cackled and wheezed and I could smell his sour odor. Oh, he was so utterly disgusting! But I did not dare do anything hurtful to him, like hit him or scream. I only tried to get away from him by pulling myself from his grasp but I simply couldn’t do it. He held one of my legs by crossing a leg around my knees somehow, and all I could do was call out, pitifully, “Lettie – look under the table! Quick!”
She turned to me, entirely surprised, but then she did bend down and look. Of course she saw his silly penis sticking out and his hands under my panties. So what did she do? She burst out laughing!
“Lettie!! Help me!” I pleaded. But she was still laughing loudly about it. She thought it was just hilarious! She actually plopped right down of the floor, convulsed in laughter. She didn’t do a thing to rescue me. I wailed, “Get someone to come in here! Please!”
But by then Chaver L. realized the jig – so to speak – was up; he let me go. I escaped and Lettie and I left hurriedly, me saying how disgusting he was and her emphatically saying that ‘all men’ were despicable.
As to the incident with Chaver L., it was just one more of the many I’d experienced. And even though I was nearly 12, I would never have said a word, but Lettie insisted I tell my father about it, so in the end I actually did. Oddly, she seemed to think he ought to know of that story, and she must have expected him to take action. Or more likely, it was a ‘test’ to see whether he would protect me or not. She had such a low opinion of men, I think she wanted to see if my father measured up to any standard at all.
I very clearly remember going over to my parents who were on the sofa, after dinner. I haltingly told my father that Chaver L. had touched me – and I pointed downward to the place on my body, not able to speak the words. Well, Lettie was right! My father was instantly enraged, jumped up and roared out of the house, straight to the offices where the Labor Union was. There were people working there late into the evening. I don’t know what actually happened, but knowing how furious he was and what a physical and intense man he was, it was quite a scene, I am sure. Nonetheless, not much came of it since Chaver L. still worked there. But I never went near the place again.