Washington, D.C. 1960's
While trying to get pregnant & after working for the Government for 5 years; I went looking for a fun Job as a Receptionist at an upscale Beauty Salon in Washington, D.C. The woman in charge told me to follow her to the back of the Salon & then pointed to the steep steps below.
Nothing in my life prepared me for what I was about to see.
The massive Eagle atop the Swastika opened my eyes to the basement room filled with hundreds of other Nazi symbols; culminating into an immediate vision of hate.
This wasn't the lair of a private collector; this was a follower paying tribute to an ugly passage of time; directed, produced & starring Hitler.
The only person in that room was a large broad shouldered Aryan looking man with such a cold demeanor; his unmerciful stare sent shivers. Without noticeably sweeping the room with my eyes; the shocking military decor suddenly sucked the air out of the room & me.
Life-size portraits of brown uniformed officers looked down on us; as the owner asked preliminary questions for my Receptionist interview.
Trying to keep my undigested lunch in its proper container; I kept my attention on the business at hand; though there was no question about it - there was an Elephant in the room.
Knowing full well I'd never return; I had to play the part of an eager, competent job seeker - all the while, not being repulsed & frightened for my life.
Never before had I found myself smack in the face of anti-Semitism to this extreme & had no prior experience to draw on. Terrified with the situation at hand; I cotton-mouthed my answers & would've paid anything for a sip of water.
How do I get out of here? Where is the door again? And why does it seem there are just walls & no door?
Every question he asked prolonged the agony; as I longed for the open air & freedom. Doesn't he know; this is killing me - or maybe he does & he's enjoying the show.
So, I began to visualize my escape; taking those steps two at a time; if my feet didn't fail me in fright. Couldn't tell you the passage of time - a minute could've felt like an hour; and who can remember the moments of fear so long ago - you'll just have to imagine it for me. I'm here & that's all that counts & I haven't applied at any Hair Salons lately.
What I was left with after this experience was: There are people living secret lives with bigotry & anti-Semitism in their hearts that will never be exposed in public & for some sick reason gives them power & pleasure.
Twenty years later; when I was a new Stand-up Comic - I vowed to myself that I would never make a Hitler Joke & I'm certainly not going to start now. Well, okay! Now I remember; that woman in charge told me to take a Third Reich!
Too Soon? Yes; try never!