Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alice Lang Rosen - August 5, 1991

Life in Detroit

And I couldn't um, I, were--I um, had to quit high school because when I was eighteen I was only in the eleventh grade and they wanted me to go to work and they wanted me to go to business school, which I was not interested in. I wanted to become a beauty operator and I stood my ground because they wouldn't pay for it. So during the summer--I worked all summer. I, I became a personal maid to a lady dentist and I saved money all summer for my tuition for beauty school. And I went to beauty school and then I worked at the Dexter Theater as usher--candy girl. I worked my way up, I was the head candy girl and with the money I got paid, I paid off my, my schooling and I became a beauty operator. That's what I wanted to be. And um, so, um, but they were very, very strict with me, very hard. In fact uh, one time they moved from--and I slept--I had to sleep on the couch because it was only a one-bedroom apartment, you know. And uh, they--one time when they rented a flat because they needed more room because the business was at home. They always had their business, you know, in the home. And uh, they went and rented a flat somewhere and I come home and my father said, "You know," he said, "Freya doesn't even know where we are going to move to. She's never even seen the flat." And my mother said, "It's my house, not hers. She doesn't have to like it," you know. So uh, but I made--I did meet--I made a lot of friends here but all the friends I made were American-born. I never met anyone that was, you know, from Europe or that had the same experience I had. A lot of my friends couldn't understand my way of living because they could come and go as they please. They used to go shopping, I couldn't go shopping. My mother bought me a skirt and a blouse and I was, I was supposed to be grateful that I had it, you know. And then after beauty school I got a job and from the very first paycheck until the last paycheck until I got married went to my parents. I never ever was allowed to keep my money. And you know, and when you're a beauty operator you make tips. Well in those days you got a quarter, that was terrific. It's like a dollar or two dollars now. And I would have to come home and they have to know how many tips I made that day. I was allowed to keep my tips but I had to tell them and some days I was told I didn't work hard enough, I didn't work long enough, I didn't bring home enough money, so what did I do? If uh, and you know the other girls when they were through working, they went home, they were happy to go home. And instead of taking the bus home, I'd walk home so it'd take me longer to get home so they thought I'd worked, you know, longer. I was very unhappy at home. And uh, I started dating a little bit here and there and then I met Bill on a blind date.

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