The Divine Mrs. M
Elizabeth Milbrandt, Minneapolis, 1970
"Forty is an itchy age..." ~ Lois Farrow in The Last Picture ShowWhen I was in my late teens, the idea of socially relating to older women who weren't my relatives, coworkers or teachers, entered into my consciousness. I had started to hang out with a group of about six students at the junior college I was attending. I was probably the youngest, Elizabeth was the oldest. She lived up the hill behind the campus, behind the Walker Art Center, one of the more desirable residential areas of Minneapolis. Our "group" was loosely centered around our Humanities class. Elizabeth was probably under stimulated by her role as a housewife, so she took classes from time to time. Her husband, several years her junior, was a fashion buyer for a local department store. She evidently enjoyed my company, I think she found my immaturity amusing. Being with her was a refreshing change from the usual sexually-charged psychodrama I was involved in at the time.
And we did interact, often carrying our discussions from the classroom into the cafeteria. I learned more about how to treat a woman from her than I ever did from school. We even did things together- visiting the Ensulptic house, meeting with labor organizers from the thirties, even attending the the premiere of the film Woodstock. Our relationship was, aside from the occasional twinkle in her eye, completely platonic.
After my enrollment at the JC ended I lost track of her for many years until I saw the obit of her husband. She had outlived him. At the time, I thought about making contact with her again, if only to thank her for her sincere interest in me and also for the tolerance she had for my youthful exuberance. Elizabeth would be in her mid-eighties now, if she is still alive. I fear I've lost my chance.