Interviewer: Lizzy Stuart
Narrator: Lu McCarney
Lu: —did not have heat. So in order for me to get the snow and ice off the windshield, I had to use a shaving blade. I would have to scrape it or hold my breath
Lu: And so then, one time, the cops stopped me. They were very familiar, I mean it was an itty-bitty down. And they says “Lu, you know, you cannot drive five miles an hour” (laughs).
Lu: I said “I’m sorry, I’m not going to do in the ditch!” You cannot drive five miles per hour… I said “Well, in that case you can drive me to work and pick me up” and would you believe that they would do that?
Lizzy: oh, wow
Lu: I mean, (laughs) it was better than me driving five miles per hour! No that was, uh, I’ve always managed to… get away with a lot of things, mainly because I think I’m a happy person. I make people laugh. And I have, um, I think being little helps me, you know? When I was young, I used to be a tomboy, and everything like that, and yeaahhhh, and I opened things and I took care of everything, and so then I started being in that dating age, and then… logically, I like tall guys, and they would start treating me as if I was going to break. And from that day forward I had everyone do everything for me (laughs)
Lu: It works! It’s beautiful! (laughs)
Lizzy: right! (laughs)
Lu: But it was just… that has to do with that that fact, that you’re little… you know? So…
Lizzy: so you had it figured out.
Lu: yeah! I mean, it took me a while, but it was fine, it was… I think when I talked to you last time I don’t think that we visited my childhood, did I?
Lizzy: No, not much.
Lu: well, I, like I said am a second daughter of four girls. No boys. My sisters and I used to claim that all of our friends were true friends… because we had no brothers…to be attracted to; to have the… y’know. And so, so but it was nice, and I was wild, I was mischievous, I got into trouble all the time, in school, out of school, at home, but I was everybody’s favorite, because I was fun! And my uncles and my cousins and all of the family, the relatives, I was always their favorite, because I was funny! And my sisters were very proper, and I really wasn’t, you know… My oldest sister, before she went to the convent, she went to finishing school. So then I had gone to the university to become an architect because my dad was an architect. And so, we moved from this city to this other town, and my mother refused to leave me behind in order for me to finish my architecture school, I was in the fourth semester of architecture school. And so then, move back to this other town, and my mother expected me to switch from architecture to medicine, which I said no. So then my father finally figured out that maybe it was time for me to go to finishing school. So then, I did go there, and then learned all these trades that I was supposed to learn, which I mean was interesting, but as far as the education I was supposed to get, I didn’t get, because of that transition and that movement. And the fact that I was in the university in Mexico; the way that we figure out grades and everything there is much different than the way they are done in the United States. In the states, everything is credit hours. For example, the fact that I had four semesters over there doesn’t mean anything. Absolutely nothing.
Lizzy: Oh, jeez
Lu: I mean, equivalent I could have had a masters in math and a minor in Spanish; it could have been that way, but I’m not even in the records.
Lizzy: Oh, man
Lu: because I did not finish, you go to these universities over there to have a professional. Either an engineer, a doctor, an architect, umm… a psychologist… But like, umm, you don’t have like an arts degree in this kind of stuff, so. It makes a big difference.
Lizzy: Ok, wow. Ok.
Lu: But it was fun, I mean I finished school very young, my so-called “high-school”. And I went to the University when I was 14 years old.
Lizzy: That young?!
Lu: well, yeah, but I had um instead of the twelve years of your high school we have nine.
Lu: So there, uh, a biggie there. So, then, of course when I was in the University, I was with people that were four or five years older than me. So I never “fit” with it. But, I used to go there and do my stuff and then go home and have my friends that were a different age and you know. And at the time later, I figured out that those guys that were asking me to date usually ended up doing homework. So I thought is it my brain or is it my body… they’re… (laughs) you know? Because it never failed, we ended up doing their homework, not my homework
Lizzy: oh, jeez
Lu: But it was, it was, um, it was funny. But I mean I enjoyed everything, and um… and that is the main thing that I have always done is that when it came to sports and stuff, well, I went to catholic schools, all girls schools, and there is no sports activities.
Lizzy: None at all?
Lu: No. I remember, we used to have P.E. and we had a male teacher. So, then, we could not wear shorts, we had to wear skirts, and pants underneath the skirts, long pants. And then the teacher would stand in the front and the nuns would stand on the side, you could not lift your legs, it was no, no, no, no. It was just horrendous
Lizzy: oh, my goodness
Lu: So then, if you wanted to any kind of sports, you did it on your own. So I formed, put together, we belonged to a country club, and they had a very nice swimming pool, and all that, so. They had this huge diving board and I climbed because then they didn’t have the ramps they have now. It was just the stairs that you have to go like this, you know, metal stuff. So I climbed to the top of the ten-meter tower and so then I did not know how to swim, and I jumped.
Lizzy: Oh, my god!
Lu: but, the fascinating thing was I went in, and then I came up. And I came up and it was just like this and so then, I taught myself how to swim without any style whatsoever. It was mainly dog paddling and that kind of stuff. And so then I started to go back and jump again, and jump again, and jump again. Pretty soon, a lot of my friends were wanting to do the same thing, so here we were doing all that stuff, so. We formed a team. But, we found this guy that had been an Olympic medalist from Mexico that was hanging around the club. And so then we asked him if he would teach us how to dive so then he did the diving. So then we entered, um, scholastic, other schools diving thing and won, and we went on and on and on and on and on I ended up bringing home the bronze medal in the Pan-American games in Venezuela
Lu: And I thought, now I’m afraid of heights.
Lu: I live in the sixth floor here, and I have this terrace, on which I don’t go out. I open the door, and stand there holding like this. I don’t know, you know! And I thought, how did I do this, all this jumping, maybe because I was blind, without glasses I didn’t see, you know? (laughs)
Lu: But, no, I was fearless. I had no sense of anything. And for some reason I did not think I was going to die, it never occurred to me, but. And, now, I became the type of mother that was a very nervous mother. And it was because I knew what I was capable of. And I was afraid that my kids were going to be capable of the same things that I… no, no, no, no, no, no! But, no, it was a good time, I enjoyed everything I did. Even when I got in trouble, I mean I was in boarding schools a couple of times, many more times that I should. A lot of the times it was because my parents were travelling, but a lot of the times… it was a punishment that I ended up in a boarding school. So, I figured out that these nuns were just making a living out of me, you know? So I was going to make sure they earned their money.
Lizzy: Right (laughs).
Lu: No, it was a lot of fun. So I can say that I had a very fascinating childhood. As an adolescent it was very nice, I was fall in love, heavily. I get married the first time and bingo, this was my first blow in life, because I had been married for a year and my husband walked out and left me for another woman. Which, I didn’t think… someone told me “well, you should feel good, she looks like you!” (laughs). People don’t understand that no, it doesn’t matter what she looks like. I mean she could have had three eyes, and it wasn’t me, you know? So, so, then I had for six years, I had the classic syndrome of the woman who has been rejected by a man. The dream that he is going to come back and say “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. I made a mistake.” It doesn’t happen. It does not happen. The good thing was that I started to be approached by a young man because they were my relatives’ friends because they didn’t want me to be by myself. And sooner or later I locked on this fascinating, good-looking guy, who was my second husband. And it was a different thing, you know? You people would say things to me like “aww the Mexican men!” And I said “No, I don’t recommend them”. I mean it was because I had a bad experience. They’re not bad, I mean my father was a Mexican man, and I mean I don’t know what my mother thought about him, but as far as I was concerned he was a fascinating man. But, I mean, it was different, I mean the combination of my husband, my second husband and I was a good one because I was a Latin chick with old fashioned ideas, and very tight morals, and he was a different thing. But, the other way, with a Latino man and an Anglo woman does not work.
Lizzy: why not?
Lu: because the Latino man, they don’t think that women are equal to them. And so that doesn’t work. I used to, I remember when I was married to my second husband, my father-in-law, because my sister-in-law became a feminist. And so then my father-in-law asked me, he asked me if I wanted to be equal to men. I said “no”. “No?” I said “no, why should I? I’ve always been superior.”
Lu: Who wants to come down? (laughs) And of course my father-in-law would just go… and my husband just thought it was hilarious, but I mean, but it was true (laughs)
Lu: (laughs) absolutely true. No I really think, I really do think that we women are better than men. We can do more things than they can. We have allowed them, and we have allowed them to believe they can do what they do; they do it very badly. But ours, from the beginning of the society of humans, ours is a matriarch society.
Lizzy: Really? How so?
Lu: Who’s the most important person in a man’s life? His mama.
Lizzy: that’s very true
Lu: This is a matriarch society. Behind every big man is a strong woman. Always. And it’s not because… we’re just holding them, we’re pushing them. But it is a very frustrating thing, especially when they say that women make less money than men. Well, I didn’t (laughs)
Lizzy: right (laughs)
Lu: Ok, I don’t want to take your time.
Lizzy: No! No, no! Please I…
Lu: You have a party, a dinner to go to…
Lizzy: Oh, that’s not until way later. I want to hear your stories.
Lu: Do you cook?
Lizzy: Do I cook? Of course I cook.
Lu: You like it? You like to cook?
Lu: You want to split some of these cookbooks?
Lu: You want to check them out?
Lizzy: No, no, I’ll check them out from you.
Lu: no, check them out and see if one… I mean, they’re not mine, I’m ripping them off, we’re not really supposed to leave them in here, so. But I’m going through all these and taking what I want. I’ll share with you.
Lizzy: no, that’s…
Lu: There is ah… you know in, what’s the name of that restaurant? Umm… Seafood market.
Lizzy: oh! Ohh… I know what you’re talking about.
Lu: So they have just opened an addition and um, a sushi bar.
Lu: The last Sunday of every month, the sushi chef teaches sushi.
Lu: yeah! So I’m going to go back and do it. See, I used to have a friend who owned a restaurant here in Des Moines, and it was a nice chef. His restaurant went broke, and I mean, but I mean… And I would talk him into.. come on, you know, teach classes. We would, I had my friend that I used to go out with her all the time. And so then he was going to do this sushi class. So then we’re in this sushi class. I’m sitting here and all this women are over there. And of course I was always bad, well, behaved. And so then I said “hey are we going to get sake?” And he said “well yes, you’re going to get sake if you finish” and I said “well, I want sake now!” And I said look everyone else wants sake to the teacher, and the teacher’s going “ohhhh…” and he pours the sake and we’re all drinking our sake. So we’re doing the sushi thing and then I turn around and all these women all have their platters with all their rolls and I didn’t have anything. Because as I cut them, I ate them (laughs).
Lu: So, my friend the chef realized it and so he had a platter waiting. But it was so much fun, I had, we went through all these classes, there were in the east village there’s a building, it’s an older building and at the top they have, they were doing cooking classes and they were doing one that was called “Frozen Assets”
Lu: That was the beginning and I was one of the first ones who started. As a matter of fact they, I, someone was asking me questions and were laughing and all that and lo and behold they’re doing a tape which came out on TV and it was in the newspaper and all that. And I though “ugh.. I didn’t even pose because I didn’t know they were filming”. But it was a lot of fun because, you would go there and there was, it was, ugh, spendy you know, $300, but, what you got was fantastic. You would get in a table and there were two or three other people at a table, and you had the teacher and you know. And so then you would prepare a dish, and you put it in a container that could be frozen for later to be fixed, and you would do ten dishes. And then you would take them home, and of course they had… they had boughten different colors (dolls) at this time to show it can be in the microwave or in or to go to the oven.
Lu: It was fantastic, and then you had all this stuff in the various important dishes. That we didn’t, we did once a month. So logically, by this time my husband was dead. I lived by myself with two cats. And, so then, I had all this food (laughs). So I had to buy a big freezer, so start putting my… my…
Lizzy: food in… (laughs).
Lu: So then, I would have a list, and I numbered them because I’m organized. So, then I number all my dishes, what was in it, and I had my stuff in here, in the side of the… so then I, I… always says, “would you like to take some food with you?” “Oh, yeah” and I says “which that… what do you want?” So then they would say “this one” and I would go and get them out (laughs).
Lu: But then it was… I had hired a chef that was… that also came out on TV. And he would be a home chef.
Lizzy: uh huh
Person: oh, hello, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to barge in
Lizzy: oh no, no, no, no, no!
Lu: oh no, no, no, no, no!
Lizzy: you’re fine!
Lu: Come in, come in. What can we do for you here?
Person: I was just curious about the building’s library (laughs)
Lu: this is a building library, yeah. And there’s movies, you see them stacked up there?
Lu: And there’s more, theres… and theres these which are new. And because they are new you cannot touch them, cause I’m going to take some of them.
Person: So I can bring my own books down that I wanna…
Lu: Yes. But you have to… don’t do this (gestures to mess on table), don’t leave them here. Try to find a place to put them
Lu: You see how they’re putting them there, of course you cannot read the title or anything else that’s going on in then. But I mean, yeah, this is it. Are you new in the building?
Person: I am, yeah. I moved on the eighth floor. Yeah, it’s really nice here.
Lu: So, um, when did you move?
Person: Um, actually in August.
Lu: Oh, really? Since August…
Person: Yeah, so not so new, really.
Lu: So you just found this out?
Person: well, my folks told me about when they came to visit.
Person: Like, “you’re building has a library” (laughs)
Lu: And so there is a … next door there is a pool room. Now in here, in here is, uh, um…for golfing. What do you call that?
Lu: But for that you have to have a special key. Which, I don’t know why, but it is what do you call it, a driving range? Is that what you call it?
Lu: But it’s huge back there, it has everything, yeah, so… I said we shouldn’t leave it locked, we should leave it open so that we have a tornado at least go back there.
Person: (laughs) yeah. Well, what are your names
Lizzy: I’m Lizzy
Lu: And I’m Lu McCarney. I live here
Person: Great, I’m Adrian
Lu: I live in the sixth floor, eighth floor, Adrian… nice to meet you I can. ok
Person: Ok, have a good rest of your day!
Lizzy: You too!
Person: See you next time.
Lu: See, I’m a flirt
Lizzy: you’re (laughs)…
Lu: Did you notice that?
Lu: It’s just natural in me. I can never, my sister says; “why you talk to people all the time?” I said: “what makes… how about if I am the only one that day who has spoken to that person?
Lu: You know? And besides a lot of times it’s amazing that I said “gah” and then we connected and we do things together Aw, nah, nah, it’s good, it’s good, it’s good.
Lizzy: that’s very good! Who else have you met, just… meeting people.
Lu: Oh, God. I mean I used to live across the street; across the hall. In the first floor. And I hated it because it’s where the cars parked.
Lu: And so we always had to have the blinds closed, we could never open the windows and everything. Right then, I knew everything that moved. Anyone that came, anyone that did this, they said “there was an ambulance last night, we heard”. And I used to say “yeah, it was from the such floor” (laughs)
Lu: Cause I was right here (laughs). And, no, but I do have connections, because, I don’t know if I told you about the elderly people that live here?
Lizzy: Oh, that’s right, yeah!
Lu: And we put together this group and we are teaching them, now we have a tai chi class and meditation and we do goodies, you know we sit there and chit chat. And now, because they’re closing the Mercy Court apartments
Lizzy: Are they really?
Lu: yeah, see there, there’s people that lived there for 30 years, and now they told them it belongs to the hospital. And they’re going to tear them down because they’re going to put more rooms for the hospital. And so they gave these people nine months to move. They’re giving them $1000 stipend for moving. I thought, oh, can I get my thousand dollar stipend, but no I already moved (laughs) you know. So then, they’re coming here. Cause what we have here is 80% students, so what we have here is a dorm.
Lu: So now, with this thing, I’m sure that the owners are rather to make the switch when the students run out of their time for, for, for their contract. They’re going to not renew it. They’re going to put this older people in here.
Lu: And so then ,the ladies in the management already call me, and they told me most likely we’re going to have more people in our tai chi class. And so then, I said “well, I mean, ok” so then, for Catholics, I have a bus that comes from St. Augustin’s that comes and picks me up even if this is not an adult care center. But I know this guy that is honcho in the church. I belong to the church, but I mean that doesn’t give me any pizzazz, but this guy does. And so then he managed to have the bus to come and pick me up here. And so then I said “well, there’s bus that come s here for the ten o’clock mass on Sunday, but you have to be down here at 9:15 or the guy, you know, the bus leaves. So then another one of the ladies says “well, from the Lutheran, they have all this information for them to have for these people to have and all that, that we have this kind of stuff. So I have my elderly social life now. But no, but, I have some of my friends that I used to run around with when I lived here and this gal and I are decided that we are going to look for men.
Lu: Yes. And I said, but I mean, I definitely, I’m definitely going to be a cougar. Because men in my age group pfffft (sticks tongue out) (laughs)
Lu: No way, unless I’m going to clean their dentures, no, no, no, I said no. I’m definitely a cougar. So then sixty, no, perhaps fifty-five to seventy—that’s the limit. Not older, you know? There’s this guy that lives in my floor. He’s 85. Eighty-five or eighty-three, somewhere in there, and so he does exercise, he’s fit and all that, he’s deaf. So then, my daughter says “come on, mom, maybe think about Chuck, he’s older than you, but he’s fit. And, no. And the other day we were pulling out, because we have a indoor parking space, and so then we were pulling out, and so here’s this red convertible, Mercedes, pulls out, and Chuck is in there. So I told my daughter, I’m calling him (laughs).
Lizzy: wow, (laughs).
Lu: that’s a big thing, big difference now!
Lizzy: (laughs) that changes a lot.
Lu: Oh, God, yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
Lizzy: so, it did change a lot from when you married, McCarney, what was his, what was his name.
Lu: Daniel Dean. And you know what, and there is a Dan McCarney from Iowa City who is the coach for the University.
Lu: His is a big name, Dan McCarney. But, my husband was the original Dan McCarney because this guy is Patrick Dan McCarney and my husband was Daniel Dean McCarney. So, they were cousins though. No that was Daniel McCarney. Dan the Man
Lizzy: Dan the Man
Lu: Incredibly good looking dude!
Lu: Yeah, he looked like Paul Newman.
Lu: mhmm. And so, he was very suave, but I claim that I took the gringo out of him. Cause when we would come to Mexico, everybody knew that my husband was Irish. I could not tell my family that I married a gringo, you know? No (laughs), so Irish was a very good. And so then he did, he looked Irish, he did not look American, and I mean he was not the all-American boy, you know, he had the distinguished European look. And so then, since I took the gringo out of him, he was a very polished man, and so he, so (shrugs shoulders). It was a good time, it was a good thing.
Lizzy: What do you mean you took the gringo out of him.
Lu: Oh, yeah, a lot of the things that you guys do that are umm, different than us. They’re not wrong, they’re just different than us. It’s just different. I mean from, um, um, um, attitudes from form of talking, for table manners, for, for, for, the fact that if I were to come in here and there were men sitting here, they would stand up when I come in. That’s what I was used to. The fact that he pulled the chair for you, that he opened the door for you, and then when the women wanted to be equal to men, and they wanted to feminist, and they didn’t want that… Honey, you don’t know what you’re missing! I mean it was a big thing. So, then, my husband did all that, but everytime he would open the door for me, I would always thank him, thank you. So it was, it was two ways. So then we have the formal um, way of life and you guys have the informal. And the formal is easier than the informal. The formal means that I’m going to make sure that you are well-treated, well-taken care of. One of the things that is very different in my country than in here is for instance, (picks up book on table) here, do you wanna look at that (throws book across table to Lizzy)?
Lu: Did you see what I did there? I tossed it. In my country is (hands book gently to Lizzy). Would you like to look at that?
Lizzy: And that was the handing, ok.
Lu: And see, you didn’t notice the fact that I tossed it.
Lu: And in my country, they stand up, it’s offensive. And they go “what do you mean, you threw it at me?” And I mean, like, because it’s normal for you, you just did not…
Lizzy: It didn’t even cross my mind.
Lu: No. Not at all. But see, actually, actually let me look at that. It just does not… Cooking for Two…. Here, you can have that one.
Lu: But it’s a different, it’s a different, it’s a different thing. You know, for instance we have, um, you guys have in the end table is this… to eat with just one hand and here.