Annabelle Norman is trying to adjust to living in a small apartment. Most of her furniture from better years is in storage. Although she feels cramped in her present home, it’s far better than the station wagon she lived in until earlier this year. Norman and her dog, Valentine, live in Arleta. I always liked to dance. I’d won a couple of dancing contests that they used to have in the theaters. I’d get up and do the Charleston.
Paramount had a studio on Long Island, and also Warner Bros. had a studio in Brooklyn, so I’d take my little self down there. And I made $7.50 a day doing extra work. Big deal.
But then I got restless. Earl Carroll was looking for people for his new show, which he was going to send across country. My mother didn’t want me to go. I said, “I will be 18, and this is what I want to do, so you may as well let me go.”
We went every place, Syracuse, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Dayton. I spent Christmas in Kansas City. The people were nice. Ray Bolger, I think it was one of his first shows. He was always such a gentleman, a sweet person.
Later I went to Europe to do a show in Monte Carlo, and that I think was the most glamorous time in my life. You know, a young girl going to Monte Carlo. I was 18.
Stars were there, and the lords and ladies, you know, that was very fashionable, and I learned to play roulette. And I had a wonderful time. I think I won about $3,000.
When I retired, I thought I had enough money to live on and get along, but then everyone thought the rents were going to be reduced and instead they started raising rents.
I was probably around 62, 63, and I hadn’t worked a great deal under Social Security, so I couldn’t really live on it. I had a little bit of savings, but it wasn’t enough with inflation.
I tried to go live with people. I was in and out of rooms to rent. I thought they were coming to my aid, and then it wouldn’t work out. They don’t invite you in to be kind to you.
I tried this for almost three years. So betwixt and between finding another place where I could have another bad experience, I would be on the street with no place to go.
I had bought a station wagon. I thought I might have to sleep in it. I was sort of halfway kidding about it, but one summer I stayed all summer in the car.
I would try to stay at restaurant parking lots, like Denny’s or Norm’s. I had to use the restaurant anyway. I had my Social Security for the food, and you have to have access to a powder room.
I wasn’t frightened unless the car stopped. I always had beautiful racing cars and voom, never worried about a car stopping from here to New York, but the station wagon isn’t in good running condition, and I can’t depend on it.
I suffer with the heat, and I perspire in my clothes and not being able to change your clothes, pulling and tugging. Things were so packed in that station wagon, so even to find a change of clothes was something else.
We both stayed on the front seat. The puppy dog stayed right with me. Everything else was filled up, practically to the ceiling. I almost couldn’t see out of it.
Nobody better come near that car. She would just rise to the occasion immediately and bark and growl, very protective.
She is not just another dog. She is extremely intelligent and very loving. She’s my baby doll, and I suppose that I’d protect her with my life.
It was just awful. I’ve always been so independent. I was not the type to be out on the street. I know I’m an unlikely person to be in this situation, because I never looked like I needed anything.