Girl Coming of Age in the 1960s



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Like many young college grads, especially those of us who'd never been out of the country, I dreamed of an overseas job. My high school friend Carol achieved it by joining the Peace Corps, but that didn't appeal to me. My father was vociferously against the idea: he said that most companies don't want people who've worked overseas, and that the military is a terrible place for women.


Letters from New York City - March 1966

3-20-1966
Sun. aft.

ABC is a slow pay

The weekends lately have been such fizzles! Yesterday it rained, and today is bleak and damp. But this morning started out with a little sun, so I went for a walk in Central Park. The grass is green now. That park is so beautiful, any view of it, that it can hardly be appreciated enough.

The skating rink was crowded and the carousel was going. I went into the zoo for the first time. It's small and cozy. I love to see the rich little children, the boys with their John-John haircuts and short coats and white knee socks.

Your visit to the flower show must have made it feel like spring is coming. I saw pictures of the one at the Coliseum; it looked extravagant. When I went through Columbus Circle there was always a long line of people waiting to get in the building. And I see the IEEE show begins tomorrow. Shall I expect visitors?

Still no word from ABC Personnel. And maybe it's better to switch companies anyway. Switch while you're young. Because I really don't have a very high opinion of ABC any more. Last week, when I was alone in the office with Jean, some man stopped by to see her, and I wasn't listening to them, but suddenly I became aware that Jean was crying. She was saying things like "This company isn't worth two cents" and how she'd love to get out, etc. She's been here 20 years.

I don't know, maybe all companies haggle over every penny they pay, but bills for music go back and forth between our office and the Hollywood office and Accounts Payable and the companies who want to be paid. Nobody at ABC, it seems, wants to authorize checks to be drawn. And Jean is caught in the middle. The publishing companies call her when they haven't received their checks.

She is absent a lot lately, and gets bad headaches. And Pat is absent too a lot, naturally. Our department must have a terribly high absentee rate. Out of the four of us girls and Jean, hardly a week goes by without an absence. I wish they would have an efficiency expert visit our department for a while. Pat, saying why should she do anything for them when they wouldn't transfer her, does practically nothing but read the Times, does her Pitman homework, and talks to her friends on the telephone. On Friday Jean was absent, and Renee, Pat, and Maxine all got in after 10 a.m. This is an office?

Friday night Barb and I and two girls from the Y went to see "The Group". It was an interesting movie but I was disappointed. There was too much choppy jumping-around and I thought they made it too funny. The book, as usual, is much better. Have you read it? It's in paperback.

My handwriting is hardly legible. I ought to type. I'm leaning back in my armchair with this on my lap, for one thing.

I was thinking—can Chris read the treble clef? The guitar music would be written in it, but a trombone is bass clef. With a guitar he will have to sing along. I've never really heard him open his mouth to sing.

Barbara said she's heard that Carol was hired for the elementary school. Barb is going home for Easter. I'm not sure if I will. The day after, I will be starting out on the job-hunt.

Dinner time—I think it will be a Jewish salami sandwich on a roll, ten-cent bag of Fritos, and a coke.

I saw a play with Janie Bedrick, the girl next door, Thursday night. She gets free tickets from various people, being a drama student. It was "Hooray, It's a Glorious Day". Very good off-Broadway musical.

3-27-1966
Sun. night

The Y has no heat

No letter from you yet this week, but I'll just write a short one till one comes. I've just finished doing a lot of washing, ironing, shoe polishing and nail polishing. And Diane and I finally got around to getting our things to the cleaners yesterday. We went last Sunday but it was closed.

This place we took them to is a compromise between a regular cleaner's and a self-service. You give the things to an attendant and she operates the machines. Eight pounds for $3.00. We'll pick them up tomorrow evening and they'll be in plastic bags like at a regular cleaners.

Debby and Heather and Sandy are moving into an apartment next weekend. I haven't seen it. It's at 57th Street and Tenth Avenue. I can't imagine living over on Tenth, but they say the block is nice up there. It's a furnished 2 1/2, $239 a month and no lease (it's a sublet). I'm still not green with envy. Maybe I'm just the dormitory type.

ABC Personnel finally called last Monday. Mr. Roennau said they expected something to open up later in the week, and would definitely call again by Friday. Wanted to let me know they were working on it.

So Friday came and went, no call. But at least I don't feel that they tested and interviewed me and found me totally wanting.

If there's no further word by this coming Friday, I'll go ahead with arrangements to rent a typewriter.

I got my suit last Friday. It's really beautiful. Kind of a deep blue green. I can't decide if the skirt should be let out and down a tiny bit. Maybe I ought to just get a real girdle. The length looks right by fashion, but I'd love another 3/4 inch or so. It's a size 8; they ran very large.

Don't forget to get Carol a graduation present. They got me a blouse last year. I'm going to write her to come and visit again this spring.

The Y has had no heat all week. I'm sitting here in my heavy green shaker sweater. At night I sleep with my housecoat on. At least I've always lived in a "cool" house; pity the kids who are only used to 80 degrees. The boiler is broken, or something. The linen room is giving out extra blankets. Kids are starting to mutter about our rent ought to be reduced this week.

Goodnight.

3-31-1966
Thurs. eve.

Maybe I'll get a job in Paris

The type face on your typewriter needs cleaning—look at the smudges in the centers of o, d, p, e, a, etc. Maybe it's just the new ribbon.

Thank you for my birthday gift; it's greatly appreciated. I thought when I got a letter tonight from NY State that it was another present, expecting my $2.95 tax refund. Alas, it was a bill for $6.41. They didn't figure it the way I did. I can't understand it. Tomorrow I'll check again; I left my tax booklets at the office.

But anyway, all my plans have changed. I'm so free! This is my free-as-a-bird time of life. You will remember that last year just before graduation I was writing frantically to every shipping line on the possibility of working my way around the world. No takers.

Now I've decided to try the government route. This month's "Today's Secretary" magazine gives all the addresses to write to and makes them sound desperate for secretaries. As a college graduate, with their set classifications, I would get at least $5000 a year, more than I'd make in a regular job.

There are so many little reasons; at the moment I'm deep in a novel called "The Mountain is Young" about a love affair in the Himalayas. Nepal. I know you think I'm a lousy traveler, I am kind of, and I don't like insects and require plenty of hot water. Of course, I really have no idea how much "hardship" is involved in a foreign job. But it doesn't matter; I know I can survive. The stay is two years.

Anyway, this is the big new plan. I stay at ABC. I transfer to a secretarial position, probably at just $90 a week. I take one week of vacation the week of April 18 and just come home and relax. I look deeply into foreign employment prospects. If it doesn't come off, I'll have my other week later in the year for job hunting. And I won't have an "only three months at one company" on my record that I might have if I changed jobs now and then in a few months "went government".

I'm not certain about that week of vacation yet; it depends on Personnel. I'm going to call them tomorrow, it being two weeks, to remind them. I wish something would open up!

Carol's pay I don't believe. It does seem ridiculous. The government pays so much better than private industry. It seems like it should be the other way around.

Chris' guitar sounds wonderful. I didn't know any electric was less than 50 dollars. And the amplifier costs more than the guitar. He is to be congratulated; I can't remember ever saving up that kind of money for anything till I was out of high school.

4-6-1966
Wed. night

New York or Paris?

Spring is taking so long to get here. Every day I pass the park and expect to see the trees looking softer. When I came here last April 19, that week it was warm enough that I remember debating one morning whether I should even wear my spring coat or not. The weather will probably change very suddenly.

Still no word from Personnel. I'm going to call them again tomorrow.

I haven't yet sent Carol a card; have looked in several stores and they didn't have graduation cards yet. I'll just write a letter. I hope she comes and visits again. You should come too, Mother; a cheap hotel room in the heart of manhattan, perfect as a base for some serious shopping, and you aren't taking advantage of it. Who knows how much longer I'll be here?

In the last couple of days I've written to about eight different government foreign job possibles, such as Department of State, C.I.A., A.I.D., Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior, Armed Forces.

I will hate leaving New York. It's my home. The nicest part of coming home to visit you is when I'm on the way back and the bus goes into the curve down into the Lincoln Tunnel, and there, on the left, is my home. The Empire State Building, that I see out my window every night when I pull up the shade before going to bed.

It's so comfortable here now. I know people; there's always someone to do things with. I want this summer here, to go to Coney Island and the beach.

But after that, it will be time to leave. Now is the time to go some place. Afterwards, I'll come back to New York.

I think I'll take one week's vacation the week of the 25th. Get another paycheck before I come home. I'll let you know definitely a week in advance to make appointments. But Personnel is the unknown factor; they might change my plans somehow. (unfounded optimism)

I'm sure Christopher's haircutting moratorium is the beginning of really serious teenageism. Longish hair is cute (not too long) if it's clean.

Recently I received solicitation from the church for the regular yearly pledge (haven't been asked for that in several years, as I remember). I feel like writing a letter and resigning. They keep wasting stamps on me and making me feel guilty.

Have a good Easter. I will see you in a couple of weeks.

4-19-1966
Tues. morn.

Home to Pennsylvania again

Thanks for the ticket and the nice early appointments. I haven't made a reservaton yet, but will probably take a later bus than usual on Friday. Then I can go back to the Y first and pay my bill for the next two weeks and have dinner. I'm asking for a food reduction for the week I'm gone, and I think that knocks off about twelve dollars or so.

I called Mr. Roennau's office three times yesterday; couldn't get through to him. Today I don't think I'll try. I've signed up for my other week of vacation for May 16-20 and will definitely go job-hunting then. With my May 6 paycheck I'll rent an electric typewriter (provided they don't require a $200 deposit).

So I'll see you Friday between 9 and 11 sometime.

5-5-1966
Thurs. morn.

A promotion at last!

Good news!

You'd think I would have called or written you Monday evening with the good tidings. I am so blissfully happy! When I got back, there was a message for me to call Mr. Roennau, which I did. Conversation as well as I can remember it:

He:
Hi.
Me:
Hi.
He:
I hear you were on vacation last week. Did you have a great time? Pack up and go to Europe?
Me:
No, I just went home to visit my family.
He:
Where's home?
Me:
Around Scranton, Pennsylvania.
He:
Oh yes, I've been through that area a couple of times. So you had a good restful vacation?
Me:
Yes, I'm all refreshed...
(I consider the above amenities as giving me an opportunity to say I'd reconsidered and would take the job with Cheifet, which had been offered at $85/week.)
He:
(the fast pitch) Will you buy ninety?
Me:
--Yes, if I liked the job (thinking he had some new opening in mind).
He:
with Cheifet.
Me:
Yes. (Rest of conversation is superfluous, except Mr. Roennau's explanation that the position had been "re-evaluated", enabling them to offer me the $5 increase.)

So I accepted. And I will have my other week of vacation to take later, and will get a full week's pay bonus at Christmas, have the raise and a dream boss. I am to start on the 16th (Monday), because if I leave before then the music department will be short, as Maxine is on vacation these two weeks.

I have to get back to work now; will write again this weekend. Last week was very refreshing and I really enjoyed doing absolutely nothing in particular. And everything is going so well.

 
 
 
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