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Days of Happy Talk
Red, You Can Call Me Red


    Apartments in Dallas, Texas brought people together in such a wonderful way. I never was ceased to be amazed at how interesting the interaction between the residents could be. All kinds of people from every imaginable spot in the world were placed in little cubicles of rooms which were off a common lush green courtyard of St. Augustine Grass. The water in the clear, blue-green pool was rippled into very small waves  by the strong hot, Texas winds.  Piped in music of decidedly  better quality wrapped itself around the occupants until all seemed to be in agreement with whatever or whoever above them wanted. There was energy and excitement all around. Irving, Texas, a young suburb in 1962 of around 10,000 people was busily building these places as if they knew that by 1975 there would be a 150,000 population.

    Across from my apartment there was  the young married couple who were beginning the collection of shared objects. One day he would bring her a clock radio, another day a small framed picture to go on the wall with her hanging grouping. She was like a child who took the gifts in such a ginger way almost as if they might break before it was put where she wanted it to live with her. Her hair up in a pony tail reminded anyone that she was, indeed, still very much like a teenager. His boy like countenance focused in on his wife's personality as if there was nothing or no one about but her.

    Another resident spent most of her time alone with her baby. Her husband was in the service and she worked during the day. When she turned the key in her door in the evening it was while she held the baby in one arm and a bag of groceries in the other. She worked in a beauty shop and everything about her appearance seemed to speak of rich living. Coiffed, neatly arranged hair that had been colored was short and curled about the finely chiseled features of her face. Her make-up was equally as well done until she looked more like a fashion model than a mother and beautician.

    One of the tenants was a male model. He worked for Neiman-Marcus and his picture was often in the paper with advertisements. He too seemed to be more like a manakin than someone that was alive. The suits he wore were perfect in every way. It was hard to imagine he had driven a car home from downtown Dallas because not a wrinkle in his clothing was obvious. His wife was equally as striking in her looks. Thin and lithe as a willowy weed she pulled every on looker's eye in her direction. The fact that she had been an army brat made her more outgoing than he was and when she gravitated toward me it was with pleasure we spent hours visiting about her travels while she was a girl at home with her military parents.

    So many more had easy-going ways and seemed to enjoy time spent in quiet conversation around the pool.  There were endless hours of visiting while Rhonda, my cerebral palsied daughter floated leisurely around the pool in her inner tube plus water wings. Youthful years gave me no idea that we would know these people for only a short period of time. I carried my large art book with a note pad inside and sketched while we talked.

    Two doors down from me lived a woman who was outstanding in her good looks. She was tall and towered over me. Everything about her was strangely perfect. However, it was her hair that made the woman stand out. It was unbelievably red. The color was not a light orangey,  color, but was a true,  dark,  rich deep auburn. The mystery in her made a person feel she had suffered from something of a trauma somewhere in the short span of her life. Because she was quiet and spoke little of anything before,  it made her seem to have an inexplicable secret somewhere in her not too distant past. She could walk down the wide hallway as gracefully as a tall queen who did not have time to turn away from whatever project held her interest at the moment. The length of he hair was twisted first into a knot and it hung down in a long rope-like  drop all the way down her back.

“I'm Red. You can call me Red,” she might call back over her shoulder as she, with elegance strolled away from a person. All around the woman was propriety. Her dress, her apartment, her husband's handsome appearance, and her car spoke of clean luxury. If she wasn't so young she would have been called a matriarch. I never knew her by any other name but Red and it was the only thing that suggested breaking away from what was totally correct. But then, that was Texas and this could be done. No other culture, bar none, is so strong and heart touching and it carries a person along with it no matter what sadness they have had to endure.

    Today, some forty years later, it all seems like some sort of shadowy dream resting quietly inside my mind. Strange I would dream over and over of the beautiful ranch home where I grew up but never have I dreamed of that world in Texas which was equally so completely free from any element of defection, pain, or any other ugliness.

     Strong, tall, vibrant men who seemed to be still walking in cowboy boots,  spoke to me in a drawl and it was as if I, the lady, had come from the finest background. All-the-while,  they wore their own lady on an arm like a precious jewel to be admired. No wonder the power of that city is legendary as if it had been there forever instead of a little over one hundred years. This is happy talk about the apartment living. Wait until I tell you about the art world!


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