This chapter or section of L-15’s autobiography has a huge title. And it covers pages 9 through 42 of the actual manuscript that was found. We shall cover the sub-section titled Wife Number 1 in this posting. We began with his childhood trauma which centered around his mother and the vague but obviously forced separation from Mother and two un-named younger siblings. We next see in this posting a second severe disappointment that centers on women in the life of Bernard Schatz. So here, in his own words, is the first part of the large chapter:
MY THREE WIVES OR:
MY ADVENTURES WITH THREE IDIOT MARRIAGE COUNSELORS DURING MY MARRIAGE TO WIFE NUMBER THREE OR:
MY MARRIAGE TO WIFE NUMBER THREE OR:
HOW DID THAT EVER HAPPEN TO ME? OR:
I HAVE HEARD OF A “B–CH ON WHEELS” BUT NUMBER THREE WAS ON JET SKATES!
Subtitled: WIFE NUMBER 1
The first of these three marriage experiences occurred about six years following the Jeffrey G. /Calotta Monte adventure. By that time I had been in college for seven years and had graduated from physical therapy school. It so happened that I was going with a young lady who had also graduated physical therapy school. As a matter of fact we had been going together for a period of two years. Although I was a practicing physical therapist my core identity was (and still is) that of an artist. As a matter of fact I had set aside $2,500 ( a sizable amount in those days) so that I could take off a couple years and travel around the Greek Islands and live the life of an artist. I had purchased a ticket on a freighter that took on passengers an was awaiting its departure a few weeks hence when I would start my life as a real artist.
Now as I say this young lady and I had been going together for two years. We shared an interest in music, art, and of course we were both physical therapists. We had a lovely and loving relationship. For example, on weekends we often took walks through the woods. I would work on drawings and paintings and she would read to herself so as not to disturb my concentration. In the evenings we might listen to the opera or just talk about things (this was at a time when young people did not immediately move in with one another).
As the time for my departure for the Greek Islands approached, this young woman brought to mind how painful our separation would be. She pointed out our commonality and the love that we shared. Conversations, somehow, drifted toward marriage. She indicated that a marriage between the two of us would be quite wonderful. My position was that I had always felt quite strongly that I wanted to be a serious artist, not just a Sunday painter. I had read about artists that had led bitter an disappointing lives because they had encumbered themselves in relationships that prevented them from pursuing their artistic goals, and not withstanding the tender feelings I had toward this person, I simply could not allow this to happen.
She parried this line of thought by pointing out that she had a career that she loved and that it would give her immense happiness to help nurture my development as an artist. She pointed out that her salary could easily support both of us and that she would gladly share anything she had with me, no matter how long it might take, even if I never became a successful artist. She admired my determination and wanted deeply to become my wife.
The subject of children came up. We both loved children and I pointed out that because of my determination to become a serious artist children might never be possible ( I was well acquainted with Thomas Rawlinson’s cartoon “The Married Artist”). She said that as much as she loved children and wanted to be a mother, her love for me, and her admiration for my strong commitment to become an artist overrode her maternal desire. She did not want anything to stand in the way of my becoming a successful artist. Far from being an obstacle to my artistic aspiration, a marriage between the two of us would nurture and support my hopes and dreams.
Well, it sounded wonderful. I would not have to leave the woman I loved and who deeply loved me. And so I cashed in the ticket to the freighter and put the $2,500 as a down payment on a home ($10,000 to $12,000 bought a lot of home in those days) and we got married.
I remember quite well that as we lay close together on our nuptial bed she said to me in a voice that I had not heard before and in a tone that caused my blood to run cold: “You will never be able to satisfy me.”
When we returned from an exceedingly grim honeymoon my bride provided me with several announcements:
- She was contemplating suicide.
- She was humiliated by the thought that she would have to support me for the rest of my life and that this would embarrass her terribly if her friends and co-workers found out.
- She wanted to get pregnant as soon as possible.
- I would have to get a job.
- I would have to drive her to work.
In additions to these announcements she acted in an extremely agitated manner. For example, when I was in the process of driving her to or from work she would occasionally reach for the car door with the stated intention of opening it an hurling herself out onto the road in order to kill herself (I had to reach over from time to time in order to restrain her from pursuing this endeavor while at the same time attempting to keep control of the car as best I could). She screamed and cursed. She hurled objects such as dishes onto the floor.
I immediately contacted her family and told them what was happening. They informed me that she was having one of her “black moods.” My initial inclination was to bug out, I felt I had been deceived. I felt that the marriage was null an void because the woman I thought I had married was not the woman I had actually married. But I was concerned that she might indeed commit sucide, and for some reason that escaped me I actually felt twinges of guilt.
So I thought I would get some psychiatric advice. I asked around for the name of a good psychiatrist. Dr. Anthony DiNolfo was suggested and I accordingly made an appointment to see him. I described the situation and told him that I was inclined to leave it as soon as possible but that I was concerned about the sucide threats of my bride. He told me that her threats might or might not be real ones, but it would probably be in her best interests if I could stick it out until she could be seen by him or another psychiatrist. I decided to stick it out.
My nerves were rattled by all of this and I couldn’t concentrate on anything besides the antics of my new bride and so I ceased to do any art work. My whole life was focused on my bride and how to get her to a psychiatrist. She was reluctant to see one and so I endured a few months of the above goings on before she finally agreed to see Dr. DiNolfo (this is simplifying what turned out to be very complicated). Fortunately for my bride she responded well and rather quickly to the sessions with Dr. DiNolfo. In any event she calmed down and stopped screaming, throwing things, and threatening suicide. I called Dr. DiNolfo after a while and he felt my bride was well along in her therapy and that I could safely leave the marriage scene.
I discussed with my bride why I (was) desirous of exiting from married life. She felt that we should give it another go, but I had lost all confidence in her veracity and left. The entire episode of my first marriage lasted four months. My bride accepted the house I had purchased, as a token of my esteem (I later learned that she sold it and used the proceeds for an extended European vacation).
That ends the smaller subitled section on the first wife of L-15. I can understand how relationships can have two sides and two different perspectives. But given this account I am more sympathetic toward his perspective given the details of the story from his point of view. I had heard him give an oral account of this story once a few years ago long before reading this account. They match and I can at least testify as to the emotional impact the experience had on him. The emotional experiences between L-15 and women in his life will leave more of an influence on his art as life goes on, but it will not be without interludes of some happiness. I want to note here that the manuscript was preceded with this dedication:
I dedicate this book to Anna (his only daughter, with his third wife) for whom I want to stick around as long as possible so I can see as much as possible the interesting and exciting things she gets into. I also dedicate it to C., (his third wife) as she was when we first met. I miss and still love that person.
The next posting from his autobiography will be the subtitled section: “AN INTERVENING INTERLUDE.”