Girl Coming of Age in the 1960s



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I've never forgotten seeing the Robert Joffrey Ballet perform "The Green Table", with Maximiliano Zomosa as Death. I saw it multiple times. It was tremendously affecting, and Zomosa was mesmerizing. He stalked across the floor, back arched, raising his knees way up and out like a robot, an unstoppable force, and every so often would gather into his arms a war victim, holding them out like a sacrifice as he gazed up into the light—everything dark except for the spotlight on his terrifying face.


Letters from New York City - February 1967

2-27-1967
Mon. eve.

Charlie hasn't called

The food here tastes three times as blah after a week of home cooking. But otherwise the visit was all to the good, and everything seems fresher for the change. I really had a good week.

The bus Saturday night was very uncrowded and I had my choice of seats, a pair all to myself. We made good time, in by 9:30.

Sunday morning I went to St. Patrick's with Ingrid to a "high mass". First time I've been to a Catholic service, not counting one in Schwab auditorium at Penn State with Rita, because that one lacked church atmosphere. It was beautiful, they had two men's choirs, one in front and one in a back balcony.

In the afternoon Ingrid and I spent two hours walking around Central Park. Everything is frozen solid, but policemen are posted all around the 72nd St. lake to keep people off the ice.

That evening Diane Ford and I went to Howard Johnson's across the street for dinner.

No word from Pam except a valentine from her mother with $3 ("in appreciation") enclosed to Diane Jackson. Mrs. D. said nothing about what Pam is doing or thinking now, but that we can "expect her back in April for auditions".

The Singer Co., where I started working today, is a pleasant place. I'm on the 59th floor, looking over Central Park (all of Central Park), in the Employee Relations department.

It's a very interesting department. My boss, Mr. Clark, is in charge of screening applicants for executive positions in their divisions (like HRB Singer in State College) all over the U.S. and the world. He receives lots of letters and résumés, from individuals and also from executive-level employment placement agencies. They are fascinating to read.

And, it's very convenient. I have plenty of time to come home for lunch, it's closer than ABC.

I have the curtains out and am looking them over. They make these dirty old pink walls look dingy. However. I will get some spray starch and iron them before putting them up.

No call from Charlie yet. Obviously he hasn't been frantically trying to get me all week. Really didn't think he was, so am glad I was away from that miserably inactive phone.

I wore the dress today. It seems perfect, but terribly plain. Have to find some kind of pin for it.

One more day of February! It really is my least favorite month. March seems a million miles closer to summer.

I see there is a "Divorce Court"—suddenly struck me, never mind, but what I was going to say:—on TV from 2:00 to 3:00 weekdays now and it must be my old boss' show. Please watch it and look for his name in the credits. (Steward D. Cheifet).

The reason never mind is, it's on Channel 9. You don't get it in PA, I guess.

I told Judy I would come up later this evening so am going to take a shower and then watch her TV while setting it. (hair.)

I really did enjoy last week. Gives one thoughts of going home for good. (But don't panic.)

Oh—had a letter waiting for me Saturday night from Janie, beloved old Penn State rommmate. She and Tommy got married last April 12, "must have hit a home run on our wedding night", had a baby girl this past Dec. 25, and now have an apartment in Grad Circle at Penn State. Tommy gets his masters in June, starts on a doctorate summer term. All on fellowships, assistantships, etc.

Good night.

3-10-1967
Fri. morn.

Working at the Singer Co.

I'm on the 59th floor here at Singer still, and have run out of work. Just finished a letter to Carol.

Remember I accepted the Singer job at $2.50/hour, but the girl at Olsten's said she'd call Singer back and try to get me the $2.75 rate? Well, I must admit I didn't have much hope of that, but when I got my paycheck last week I saw that she had. The check was for $96.25, $76.60 net. ABC, you recall, was paying me $90, net $71.

Already I feel like coming home again. Really in a slump. I have another bad cold. But anyway, today is sunny and warm and feels like hopefully an early spring.

Mother, you must come and visit me again soon. Shop for a spring coat or something. I made a slipcover for my desk chair out of all three colors of the curtain material and it's really pretty, looks like a boudoir chair. And yesterday the maintenance man put up brackets for the curtains for me, and I'll finish them this weekend.

Your new sofa may already be there now. That will really make the living room look new and strange; that old sofa has always been there, and is such a dominant part of the room. But the new one will look elegant. Red and gold.

I'm going to start making a summer dress this weekend, got the stuff at Macys Monday night. Black birdseye piqué, Vogue 7066. It seems crazy to start off sewing for spring with icky old black, but I want one very simple black summer dress.

This department, as I've said before, is very interesting. Reading the résumés is enlightening and instructive. I'm taking the place of a girl who is in the hospital for a hysterectomy.

Sablou, the girl from Ethiopia, told me this morning at breakfast that she is leaving the Y next weekend to take a room with kitchenette at the Wolcott Hotel, 5th Avenue & 31st St., for $120 a month. She says it will be cheaper for her, because she misses four evening meals a week because of going to school.

I feel like I have nothing to write about. Haven't done much because of feeling lousy with this cold.

3-20-1967
Mon. morn.

The Green Table ballet

This letter won't settle any plans, as I haven't made any phone calls yet to hotels. I'll probably call you tonight. This weekend sounds great, and I'm so glad Chris [younger brother] will get to spend a night in the City. I am determined that he shall like this place too. He is a main reason I wish I'd get my own apartment. Then he could come and stay for a week in the summer and really explore.

With him in mind, now I really don't know what to do about Thursday night! When you first mentioned it, I immediately thought of the discount tickets I'd just picked up for "The Odd Couple", which can be redeemed at the box office for half price. But then Chris on the phone said something about "Grand Prix" which is supposed to be very good and exciting, in Cinerama, and it's close by. It seems a shame to see a movie when it will probably get to PA sooner or later. But then, he might miss it then, especially with you out in the country now, and it's true that the sight and sound are best in the premier theater, which it is at.

Also—the Easter show is on at Radio City. Chris should see Radio City. The movie on there now is good too, I saw it, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying". Of course, you could see that during the day.

Then again, though I haven't seen "The Odd Couple" and it's supposed to be a good comedy, it's been around for quite a while. I think it'd be nicer to see something new. On W. 55th St. is an off-Broadway theater doing a revival (so it's not actually new, but just opened two months ago) of Rodgers & Hart's "By Jupiter". I saw it and liked it very much. It's a musical comedy, lively and done very well, got all good reviews, and the theater is small and cozy. I am kind of leaning toward it now. I don't know what to do! Probably should get tickets to something in advance. "By Jupiter"'s box office is closed on Mondays.

Saturday night Diane Jackson and I went out at 7:00 to get tickets to the movie "The Sand Pebbles" and then go for dinner beforehand at La Crepe. "Pebbles" was sold out, so we walked over to the Crepe and en route passed the City Center and decided to check out what was playing there. It was the Robert Joffrey ballet on a 3-week engagement and we got tickets. It was wonderful! I haven't seen a ballet since the NYC field trip in college my freshman year. One of the three dances was called "The Green Table". It was a satire on war. Started out with 10 diplomats arguing around a green table. Then came war. Death was the winner, and the whole thing was more impressive than any movie or play or song or speech could ever be. Maybe we should see it Thursday night.

Death was danced by a big man, made up in bluish green that glowed like some horrible fungus or algae or something. Movement is hynotizing. Everything, the costumes and makeup, masks and lighting, was spellbinding. [Maximiliano Zomosa was the dancer who played Death so powerfully. In 1969 at age 31 he was found dead in his car with a stab wound in his heart.]

Saturday afternoon I went down to the VIllage and walked around by myself. It was very cold. I do like it down there in some ways. It seems so much more friendly, homey, and residential than midtown. I went into a bookstore specializing in secondhand paperbacks. Seventh heaven! Found two books, secondhand, that I've been looking for for some time in regular stores and not found.

The dress I'm working on now is turning out very well, despite the fact that after I'd cut it out, marked it, and sewn in the bodice darts I discovered that I was using the wrong side as the right side. Started over.

Am not overly busy here, as you can see, because Mr. Clark is interviewing at Columbia today.

Tomorrow Spring begins.

Ingrid at the Y (you must have met her, Mother) had a job as fur coat model at Christian Dior for a couple of weeks at $110/week. But last Friday their Paris designer was in town, wanted to see how his coats looked on the new model, and she lost the job. He decided her bust and shoulders were too big.

I haven't heard from Barbara Fogarty yet.

It's now noon, and I guess I'll mail this right when I go out to lunch, hope it arrives Wednesday.

3-23-1967
Thurs. morn.

A note I left in my room

Welcome!

How do you like the room, isn't my redecorating an improvement?

I got us tickets for "The Odd Couple" tonight. Curtain is at 8:30.

I will be here for lunch, hit the cafeteria at 1:15 and the room at 1:30, but you'll probably be out someplace.

So, see you around 5 (I get out at 4:45).

P.S. - Don't forget to leave key in box for me at lunchtime.

P.S. - Now I'm moving stuff around to make room for your bed. Does this floor ever need mopping! Just don't look at it.

3-29-1967
Wed. night

More responsibility at work

Thanks very very much for your card and enclosure, which arrived just on the dot, unlike my present to Chris, and I got it when I came back here for lunch today. It was my only card, sob, no one else knew it was my birthday, so it really was the high spot of the day. And I already have the welcome money mentally spent—a pair of shoes, and a blouse to replace that runny orange print one that came with the beige suit.

The bus made good time Sunday night so it wasn't bad, except I was in the very last seat, the one that seats three, in between two other women. I would get the middle seat! Anyhow, I'm glad I did get that bus. I had a wonderful time last weekend, and having everything I liked to eat should satisfy me for a couple more months of Y food.

It's been much warmer here this week. I like my job so much, I don't know how I can bear to leave it next Friday. Monday we moved up to the 60th floor to a beautiful new ofice. And Mr. Clark is such a good boss. He gives me more and more responsibility. I compose letters for him, which is the most fun, and make appointments, and phone men who have submitted résumés to ask for their salary requirements. That last item took nerve at first; I thought, who am I that they should tell me that? But everyone I've talked to has been very nice.

Last night I went swimming, the water was perfect and there were lots of people there. Monday night I went to Macys and got material for another dress on the same pattern as the black one. I got tattersall, blue & red on white, which I've seen quite a lot of in ready-mades this year. Added difficulty matching the checks or plaid or whatever you call it, though.

Tonight I took a batch of stuff to the 10-lbs.-for-$3 cleaners. And took up the hem of the brown corduroy jumper, which I plan to wear tomorrow with the belt Chris gave me. Very domestic evening.

More soon.

4-8-1967
Sat. aft.

Pam recovered from breakdown

Chris's dog sounds adorable, and Spooky is a good name. I'll have to come home again soon and see him while he's still little and cuddly. It must be a temptation to let him up in the house, when he's just a baby. But it'll be warm soon and he'll probably prefer sleeping out in his own little house, in a basket with a pillow. I like beagles too, I'm glad that's what Chris got.

I take it the sofa hasn't arrived yet, since you didn't mention it. Am glad you got the roses for the porch, they will look beautiful. Will they bloom this year?

I just got back from a shopping binge, this brown ink is one of the results. I always thought I'd like brown ink on creamy paper, but this is too light brown.

I also got a pair of low-heeled black shoes at Lord & Taylor, thought they fit well, wore them home, and now my feet hurt; the shoes feel too small. Maybe too much walking. But I just can't seem to tell about shoes!

Another thing I bought—a sexy white bathing suit at Sterns. It's beautiful, fits perfectly, one-piece, low front and back. Only trouble is, it's filthy. The salesgirl said it was left over from their resort stock that they got in last fall. She said their big summer stock order hadn't come in yet. (I thought, when I started looking at suits today, that I would run into the summer stock at its brand-new biggest selection.)

So I was uncertain about whether to get it, since it is last year's. And quite dirty. And not marked down at all ($28). But it's so good looking! So I bought it, and some Woolite to wash it in, and am looking at it lying on my bed now with some misgivings. Will it ever be really white again? Still, it looks great. And maybe people will think it's supposed to be antique white, as I did when I first picked it up. Anyhow, it's not returnable.

Pam, the girl who had the nervous breakdown and went home, arrived here Thursday and stayed two nights with me. It's now 4:45. She has a reservation on a 5:55 flight to Buffalo, and said she'd be back here by four to pick up her stuff. (She went to the Metropolitan Museum this afternoon.)

She seems much better. She came Thursday to audition for a summer stock company, and didn't make it. So she may spend the summer getting 12 more credits at the University of Buffalo so she can be a substitute teacher. She is presently teaching in a private Catholic school in Buffalo, remedial speech and reading, and makes $135 a week. She has dyed her hair a dark reddish brown (she used to have it blonde). This color suits her better.

Next week will be my last at Singer. I've really gotten to liking it there. And Rockefeller Center underground is fascinating. Lunchtime there can always be spent walking around down there, looking at the stores on all three levels (mezzanine, ground, and underground) and there is a cafeteria down under the International building, which is catacorner (never wrote that word before; spelling?) to the RCA building, but you walk there underground. I'll have to show it to you, Mother, since it's a handy location, 5th Ave. at 51st, and at least as cheap as the Y, and not overcrowded, as no one is going to notice it from the street and drift in. It's one of those places you have to know about.

—Pam just got back, and we said goodbye, and she's off to the airport—

My tattersall dress is coming along pretty well, although I didn't match the plaid as well as I might have. Gee, you have to match it all up before you cut it out, and it's so hard to remember every meeting place that should match, and get it straight. My next effort will be a good old solid.

Tonight Diane and I are going to see a revival of the musical "Finian's Rainbow" at the City Center. And maybe go out to eat first. But she hasn't gotten home from her switchboard job yet.

She just called, doesn't want to eat out. So I've started washing the bathing suit.

 
 
 
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