Girl Coming of Age in the 1960s



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Because I didn't yet have a job and also because the Laura Spelman YWCA was full, I had to get a room at the Webster Apartments. The trouble with the Webster was not just that so many of its residents were from foreign countries, it was also that so many of them were old. The Y had a time limit; you could live there for only two years; it was for young women. But women could remain at the Webster forever and many did. Good grief, I just now Googled it to maybe see when it had closed and it's still there! I'm stunned. At websterapartments.org it says "A Not for Profit Women's Residence since 1923". There are interesting reviews of it on Yelp.


Letters from New York City - late April 1965

4-22-1965
Thurs. eve.

Employment agencies charge fees

This morning I went to NBC and really messed up on their typing test, which included numbers in columns and setting tabs. Then I went to Chappell Music Co. and got a very cold shoulder; they only hire through agencies and wouldn't tell me what agencies. Then I went to Doubleday but they only hire from 9 to noon and it was after noon. I'm going back tomorrow.

I had lunch at Schrafft's and then went to the N.Y. State Employment Service and filled out a mile-long form. I have an appointment for 9:00 tomorrow with them. Then I answered an agency's ad in the Times for:

COLLEGE GRAD
TO $390
"SOUND OF MUSIC"
New job in major co for bright gal with interest in musical sounds. Will do some resch. Good growth potential. Typing necessary.
COLLEGE GRAD AGENCY, 28 W 44.

It's with RCA. The agency's fee is 45 or 50% of a month's earnings. I'm to call him tomorrow to see if the employer will interview me. As he explained the job, it seems like the kind of thing with room for advancement and responsibility. Girl Friday kind. I'm almost certain that, no matter what transpires tomorrow morning, I'll turn down the ABC job. I think it's a dead end.

I called NYU and got Pam's number [a grade-school friend from when we lived on Long Island]. I'm going to call her tomorrow afternoon, after the week is over. It seems most offices only interview in the mornings.

Your letter came today and was cheering. I really am cheerful anyway. Everything is going all right (except, of course, my feet). When you come Wednesday, please bring the pink & white dress and the blue denim, and the green & white shirts. And the radio. If nothing else, please bring the radio.

This evening I went back to the Webster and paid the $5.00 deposit. The woman said I couldn't see a room but that I didn't need to; they're all nice. No private baths. No minimum length of stay, so I don't need to worry if it doesn't work out. I'm moving in there Tuesday. I didn't write down what the director told me last night is the rate for an $80 income and she's the only one who can give out such info so I couldn't find out tonight. It was 26-something though, so please send me a check for 26 or 27 dollars, made out to me, and they will accept it. For my spending money (I'm down to ten dollars) please send cash or a money order, at least by Saturday, because I won't be able to cash a check yet.

I was just out to a drugstore for kleenex and walked past the Time-Life building. It's pretty warm out and the fountains and pool in front of Time-Life were cool and beautiful. New York is fantastic at night. All the skyscrapers are lit up for the cleaning staff and it looks so bright and cozy. "Equitable" and "Americana" are spelled out against the sky.

I hope Grammy is feeling better. I'll send her a get-well card. Now, tonight, I'm determined to get to bed early.

4-24-1965
Sat. aft.

I took the job at ABC

I've accepted the job at ABC, the first job I was offered.

Yesterday morning at nine I went to the State Employment Service and had a long interview with a very nice woman (Mrs. Kass) who gave me the impression that that was a very good opportunity and about as good as I could expect to do. The man at the College Grad agency on Thursday also said that 80 or 90 a week was the most I'd ever get to start. (After my interview with Mrs. Kass I called him to see if an interview had been arranged with RCA and he said he'd called about me but they wanted someone with office experience.)

Mrs. Kass said that as far as publishing was concerned, I would do much better than just going over to see them if I sent them résumés with a note saying that I would "take the liberty of calling their secretaries in a few days to see if an exploratory interview could be arranged." So that would take a couple of weeks.

She mentioned ASCAP, they had information on the kinds of work done there, and it sounds like it might be interesting, if they had openings. I'm going to call her again and find out if it's ethical to be actively job-hunting after you've accepted a job. I would like to write to ASCAP.

It was only after I left her (convinced out of just going over to Doubleday), and after I'd called College Grad to find they needed experience, that I decided to accept ABC. My feeling at first that maybe I was really setting myself low was when another girl, applying for secretarial at ABC when I was there, said she thought secretaries at ABC started at 85. And when I went in for my interview, Mr. Roennau began by asking if I was aware of the cost of living in NYC (I'd put down 70 for salary expected and 65 for minimum).

Anyway, I've accepted and am to report to the personnel office at nine Monday for sign-up. I'll have to have a physical. I've rationalized myself now into thinking I'll probably enjoy it. Miss Driscoll said we sometimes would get to go across the street to where the filming and rehearsals are done. She said it "has its moments".

The more I talked to Mrs. Kass the more I got the feeling that I was very lucky to get this.

This morning I slept till noon, a good night's sleep minus those impossible rollers. I guess I'll have to do my moving Tuesday morning before going to work. Wednesday, how can we possibly get together? I'll be in residence at the Webster, 419 W 34th, LW 4-3950. But I guess I'll probably be working. Maybe I should call you Tuesday night?

I'm going out to dinner now; the cafeteria isn't open.

I really do want to see you on Wednesday, Mother. I hope it's arrange-able. So see you then, I hope.

5-2-1965
Sun. aft.

Tired of sleeping on rollers

Dissatisfied, that's kind of what I am about my living arrangements. I think the accommodations are very nice, but I've decided I don't like the atmosphere at all. Inside, I'm sure the population is two thirds immigrants. I've met people from England, Ireland, the Philippines, Germany, and Spain; few Americans. I suppose it's nice to get to know all kinds of people, but it isn't easy; a slight language barrier is enough to make you give up. And besides, their backgrounds are so different.

Then, on the outside, I don't like this neighborhood. It seems more dangerous and dirty than at Laura Spelman. In the mornings all the streets down here are lined with trucks and men unloading dresses from them. And Black Muslims are out being aggressive about selling their newspaper. And there are blind men and beggars wandering through the crowd. It isn't very comfortable.

Pam and I got together for lunch Friday. We met in the lobby of Laura Spelman because it's near a subway stop and decided to eat there because most places are crowded at noon. She looked the same as ever, long blonde hair loose. She is a sociology major and lives in a dorm on the Bronx campus; is still doing modeling.

While we were eating Miss Kuusisto stopped by, asked how I was doing, and said that she thought a couple of openings were coming up and that I should call her that night or Saturday. Well, I didn't, and now I'm sorry. I'll stop in there on the way to work tomorrow and find out when I can talk to her or Mrs. Ramey again. I know this business is ridiculous, but I've decided I would prefer living there. I have an appointment Tuesday evening with the director of Morgan Hall, the Y on E 45th, which I will go to, but in its brochure it describes itself as "the residence with the truly international flavor." I just want to meet someone like me. There must be some other young fresh-out-of-school small-town girls around here, but I haven't met any yet. Another thing about the Webster—no organized activities.

On Friday I had decided that what I should do is get an apartment. Pat Weltman, the other new girl in the music clearance dept., said she thought the Times listing of "Apts & Rooms to Share" was a good thing, and I decided to call a few of the ads. The first, about a girl who had her own furniture and wanted a girl to seek and share an apartment, turned out to be a Brooklyn divorcee. Then I called an ad about "2 witty college grad girls wish third to share lux apt., TV, doorman, etc. $70 month + sec., 96 5th Ave." That sounded good and I called them, and even went over Friday night to visit them, but they were not for me and neither was the way the apartment was furnished (slightly beatnik, stark and dark). Now all I crave is the Y again. It was so wholesome, is the word.

Even though my hours are about the best you could have, I found these first five work days incredibly long and boring. I was meant for something better! A machine could do what I do. And music does not enter into it at all; Pat, from Syracuse, majored in Elementary Education.

Also, this hair has got to go. I spend half my evening setting it and then get a terrible night's sleep over the rollers.

My main problem, I guess, is that I'm a little lonely, which I certainly knew I would be. All I have to do is find someone.

I'd forgotten Memorial Weekend is coming up; I must get that Monday off. I'll make bus reservations early so I'll be sure to get a place.

Your newspaper clippings were appreciated. I am interested in NYU's offerings and am going to call for their summer catalog.

 
 
 
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