Girl Coming of Age in the 1960s



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The music clearance department at ABC was just a way station: less than a year after we started there, both Pat and I were eager to move on. It had some good points, though: nice people, and library-stacks filled with sheet music that I photocopied by the pound and took home to play on the Y's piano (and still have today).


Letters from New York City - January 1966

1-13-1966
Thurs. night

New York City transit strike

[During the first two weeks of January the city's transit workers were on strike, taking all the buses and subways out of service. Commuting was a nightmare for millions.] I walked every day, including the first one. And now that I see it isn't such a bad walk, I may keep on. Especially if the fare is increased.

I'm sorry it ended this morning—we'd been getting out of work early, around four, to go home. And it was convivial, walking along with hordes of people, looked at the jammed-up traffic and jam-packed cars. People were always running up to cars, asking for rides. There were policement directing traffic at every single corner. I don't know where they got all the policemen.

By this second week, when ABC issued a memo that employees not able to get in would be paid for last week, but not for this week, everybody was making it in one way or another. Al Datz took the train in from Wantagh, then walked from Penn Station. Dottie Urincola took a Jersey-operated bus from her home on Staten Island over the bridge to N.J. and then through the Lincoln Tunnel to Port Authority, and walked from there. Jean took taxis from the Bronx. Maxine,who lives in Brooklyn, was luckily or unluckily stranded in Manhattan New Years night when she waited so long to start home that the strike had begun. She's been staying with friends on 75th Street.

It was entertaining and a wonderful topic of conversation. Not so much fun, though, if you were a piece-worker in the garment industry, hopelessly trapped in Brooklyn. I hear about this from Sandra, who is an employment interviewer trainee in the apparel section of the N.Y. State Employment, and Heather, who is ditto, and is now sharing a room with Sandra here. Heather had been taken on before she took the test, as a provisional, and was shocked to learn last week that she hadn't passed. This means that she'll miss out on the 6-month raise and might be dropped any time if they get enough people who have passed. She can take the test again after a year. But it is a horrible blow. She went to Columbia.

Which leads to the happy news that I did pass, despite the trapezoidal swimming pool, and received a letter saying to call for an appointment for the oral exam after the strike is over.

So I'll try to take it during lunch hour. It would be nice to have the offer.

The "Y" shorthand classes did not start Tuesday because of the strike.

Sandra just called; wants me to come up. Heather and Debbie Chauncy, a med tech at Columbia Prebyterian, have gone to the movies. I would have gone, but am broke, tomorrow being payday. It's the first check in a long time that hasn't been ear-marked; this one is somewhat, for a pair of shoes.

The four of us have been playing bridge almost every night. I love it, and am going to get a Goren book.

We did have a great New Years eve.

1-23-1966
Sun. aft.

Buffy Sainte Marie moves in

Wet snow has been falling all day and I'm glad I haven't had to go out. The wind is terrific, makes the windows clatter. Maybe you better mail my boots. I'm going to mail you some material and a pattern when I get paid Friday.

I can't believe the FBI gets in on this Peace Corps business. How impressive. Nobody's gotten in touch with me yet. [High School friend Carol is joining the Peace Corps.]

The first Y shorthand class met Tuesday, and after one night I switched to a more advanced class that meets Mon. & Wed., 8-9:50 p.m. It's great, just four girls in the class, and I just manage to keep up with the dictation, which starts at 80 wpm on new material. Goal of the course is 110 wpm and I want to be able to do 120.

Sandra just called. We're making dinner in the kitchen on the 4th floor. I've refused another apartment-sharing offer, with her and Heather and Debbie. They want to get one in March, on the West Side, of all the ilky places. I've decided to hold out for what I want, a place on the East Side, 50s 60s or 70s, with just one other person. And after I've changed jobs, since the location may influence. Renee is taking the first two weeks of April for vacation (trip to Europe) and I think I'll take the last two weeks and devote them to interviews. I won't have the money to go anywhere, and interviews do each take a morning.

I've been notified to come for my civil service oral test on Tuesday at 9:15, so I'll call in sick again. But I'm definitely not interested.

—Break for dinner—

We had chicken TV dinners and SaraLee coffee cake.

Chris sounds awfully busy. And he must be going to start those aptitude tests they give in 8th grade pretty soon. I still haven't been skating here.

Have you ever heard of the folk singer Buffy Sainte Marie? She was written up in Life a little while ago, also in Time. She's a full-blooded Cree indian. And last weekend she moved into the Y, lives right down the hall as a permanent resident in 1017. Life said she was stingy on $100,000 a year and this makes you believe it. [In the dining room she'd sit at a table by herself.]

I bought a pair of shoes last week with lower stack heels. This weekend was very economical, but last weekend we ate out both nights. Saturday was South African lobster tail at the Captain's Table. Sunday was sweet and sour pork at Bill Hong's. Both places were very good. I was celebrating freedom from having to pay for anything—classes, coat, Christmas. Do you realize I've spent over $130 on shorthand so far? It makes you wonder if you could possibly learn it yourself without classes.

Barbara and I saw the play "Any Wednesday" Thursday night. It was pretty good and we had discount tickets. [Various organizations left discount tickets at the Y front desk.]

My Feb. Glamour came yesterday. It's really nice getting those magazines.

I have to do some washing and ironing.

2-3-1966
Thurs. aft.

Need to try an electric typewriter

Jean is out today and nobody is very busy. Pat has made a contact in the advertising promotion dept. and expects to transfer over there any day now. She is just waiting for Personnel to okay it.

I've just finished "Doctor No", a James Bond paperback. Honestly, those books are terrific! They are so entertaining. I know you were reading Agatha Christies, Mother, but James Bond is so much better than just a mystery story. It's adventure with a capital A. I also read "Goldfinger" and now am starting on "From Russia with Love". They are what you should have at the lake this summer.

When I mail the pattern and material I'm going to mail the New Yorkers with the Capote story ["In Cold Blood" was serialized in The New Yorker]. At Lord and Taylor I got a blue and white basket weave kind of material that is wrinkle and spot resistant and washable. Maximum shrinkage is 2%. I don't know if that means it should be pre-shrunk. The first pattern I bought I didn't like, so I took it back and got another. The first one was too fussy, and I think this material needs something simple. I'll mail it this weekend. First I want to get out the pattern pieces and measure them to make an estimate of any alteration needed, like length. I'll probably come home at the end of this month some time, and then you can mark the hem.

The church has been sending me literature on their building plans and yesterday I received a pledge card. They make me feel guilty, but I do not plan to sign my life away for three years when it isn't really my church any more, if it ever was.

Finally got around to getting a wedding present for Pam and writing her a letter. I got her a wood chopping block with knife magnetically attached at the Lord & Taylor gift shop. I wanted to get her something pretty, but with everything, it seemed necessary to know the color of her furnishings. What did you send?

The shorthand classes are going very well. One more thing I would like to add before I go job hunting again, though, is practice on an IBM electric typewriter. So many of the want ads in the paper specify an IBM typewriter, and while I know that if I got a job that included a nice new electric one I could pick up how to work it soon enough, companies do ask for demonstrations of your ability, and I would like to have spent a little time at one.

I've been thinking, it might pay to just rent one for a week or two, be cheaper than going for a month to a school that has them. I'm going to call rental places and see.

I also wrote to the New York Bar Association asking if they could suggest a good way to find out about the different Manhattan law firms, like their size and specialties. Legal secretarial sounds good to me. And I told my office manager that I'd like to take my vacation the last two weeks in April.

Still haven't heard from the FBI. Maybe you gave them all they wanted.

Barb and I went to the movies last Friday, saw "Juliet of the Spirits". It was very good, one of the arty ones, which Barb can't stand. We are going again tonight, and it is her choice.

Saturday night Sandra and I went to McGinnis', a pretty well-known restaurant around Times Square. I had lobster again. Gee, I cannot sit here and type and think what I want to say at the same time! I keep making mistakes.

Yesterday I filed my U.S. and N.Y. State income tax. I should get back $31 from the U.S. and $3 from New York. Thank heaven I didn't have to pay. That must be awful. But a refund is so nice to look forward to.

Oh, I did get my five dollar raise. Gross pay is now 170.00 for the two-week period, take-home is $139.42.

It's very slushy out, crossing the streets is a mess. The boots arrived just in time. And the purse holder is very handy. Having only one purse, which I still love, I use it for shoes.

Everything is going well. I am seriously considering making a definite change in hair color, on the light side. Maybe this weekend I shall impulsively do something.

Time to do something constructive.

 
 
 
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