Girl Coming of Age in the 1960s


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Probably very few people stay in their first job for long; you can't help but wonder if there's something better out there. My father's advice, repeated many times over the years, was never to leave a job until your pension was vested. But most people in their twenties aren't much interested in pensions.

Letters from New York City - June 1966

Sun. eve.

Off-Broadway plays are different

Happy father's day! But what a disappointing weather situation. Janie Bedrick and I were going to go to Jones Beach today ($1.50 each way from the Port Authority) but it was cloudy and damp. Yesterday I bought a bathing suit, beach towel, and beach bag, and was all ready to go, darn it. The suit is a black one-piece, that puckery kind of material with little holes all over it. A Peter Pan. And the shape built into it! It can really stand up by itself.

I'm glad I went home last weekend. Things look different when you get away from them. But last week was kind of sad, I'm glad it's over. Tomorrow I'll go in to work and just forward the phone calls to Sam Antar and the mail to Marty Rubenstein and otherwise, nothing. I made an appointment to see Mr. Roennau in personnel at 3:30 tomorrow, with a view to transferring to 1330, the new building. They still haven't gotten anyone to replace Stewart.

Janie and I went to see an off-Broadway play called "Until the Monkey Comes" on Friday night. It was what the image of off-Broadway avant garde is—all out to shock and using every available material. The cast of six included: a young man who lived off an aging rich blonde who paid him for his attentions (the play was set in his apartment in Manhattan); the aging blonde; a young Jewish boy, to get across the anti-Semitic parts; and a homosexual, for the sex perversion references. From offstage every so often came the voice of the young man's mother, who was bedridden and made bird noises, chirping and tweeting. All loaded with hidden meaning.

It was fascinating; the audience was rapt. It was the smallest theater I've been in yet, just five or six rows of seats around three sides of the stage. We were in the second row.

Afterward we went to Joe Allen's on West 46th, a restaurant where all the theater kids go. Janie saw some people she knew and we sat with them.

I'm getting my tennis permit tomorrow and Diane and I are going to Riverside Park Tuesday evening. This probably won't last, but right now she has me all enthused.

Tues. morning

Twiddling my thumbs at work

I'm so glad I'll be on vacation next week! This sitting around doing nothing is unbelievable. Yet I hate to sit here just reading a book because my desk is like a reception desk, everybody on the floor goes past it to get to the elevators and the lavatories and drinking fountain and Xerox machine.

In desperation I've been thinking up my own little projects, like putting new labels on the beat-up file folders and re-copying messy contract lists. And I can practice typing. But it's deadly, anyway.

Saturday Diane and I went to Brighton Beach, near Coney Island. It was a wonderful day for suntanning, but with a breeze, so you didn't feel like you had to get in the water. Which I didn't, it was so absolutely filthy. I still haven't gotten to Jones Beach.

The beach was jammed with people, mostly young, and fascinating. A parade of bathing suits. A surprising number of girls are wearing bikinis. And every other party had a radio blaring rock-n-roll, and men kept walking through selling "cold orange drink, cherry soda, red-hot potato knishes". We had a lunch on the boardwalk of hotdogs, knishes, soda, and frozen custard.

The 15-cent fare is really something. For only that, we can go all the way to Coney Island, an hour's ride.

A new girl has joined the legal filing staff. The rest of the file clerks are older women. She is fresh out of high school, very pretty and very nice. I don't see how she can last in that job, just sorting papers all day without girls her age around. She's been here four days now, and told me she wished she could do something besides file part of the time. A job that is just filing or just typing, not even a phone to answer, would be hard to take.

I was at the library last night, taking back some records. That is a wonderful service, lending records. I take out all the musicals and they even have the latest ones. Also I got a book by Nadine Gordimer. If your library has her, you should read some of her stories. They're really good and all are set in Africa.

Diane and I walked around Greenwich Village Sunday afternoon. It would be very interesting to live down there for a while. But I'd hate being dependent on the subway to go everywhere.

I hope I can squeeze out the money to go swimming tonight. It's fifty cents. I think with my next paycheck I will pay $10 for a three-month ticket. With it, you can go as much as you want for three months. No need to worry about digging up the fifty cents.

It's almost lunch time, thank heavens. I've been taking an hour-and-a-half lunch hour lately, and going home half an hour early.

See you Friday night.

Sun. aft.

Perhaps a guy in the church group?

I'm lying on my beach towel in the heart of Central Park. It's nice and hot out.

This letter is so late because of the extra one I sent Chris. Too much of a strain to write two in one week.

It's been a lovely week. Last Saturday Diane and I went to Jones Beach with her church group, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian. It was the best day since I've come to New York. We stayed until dark, cooked hotdogs, and when we got back some of the kids came in to watch the Miss USA contest in our 4th floor lounge and then we went over to the Howard Johnson's for coffee. [There were actually males in the group.]

Monday I spent $60 on a suit at Peck & Peck. It's off-white burlap-texture material, boxy jacket and straight skirt, with a predominantly orange paisley blouse. It can be worn spring and fall, I think. I wore it to church this morning though and was rather hot.

The week with you was perfect. I'm just as glad I came home and saved all that money and increased my suntan. And the lake is restful. I really appreciated it this time.

Last week I went swimming three evenings. There are usually just eight or ten people in the pool and the water is just the right temperature.

My job is still nothing. And ever-vacillating me has given up the idea of the Foreign Service again, this time because I like the people in this church group. Ick! I hate the very words "church group". But I still like the people.

Right now the job plan is to give notice on August 1st and leave after I get my next check two Fridays later, the 12th. I want to try temporary jobs and see what other companies are like.

Ugh, these people trolling past on bicycles. It's three p.m. and they must be so hot. I feel like going for a Good Humor. I've just recently discovered them. They have so many fantastic varieties! My present craze is coconut-covered vanilla.

Last Tuesday Barbara Thomsen, this girl who just got back from the Peace Corps in Malaysia, and I went out to dinner and a play. She persuaded me to try a Korean restaurant, the Sambok, which was interesting, but you can have Korean food. We saw "Barefoot in the Park" on discount tickets. It was very good.

Carol leaves day after tomorrow. She's probably got butterflies. I haven't heard from her yet. Send me her Liberian address when you get it.

Me, I swear I am in paradise right here. There's a ball game going on in the field below me, and there's a group of teenage boys playing guitars and singing on a rock on the other side of the field. Helicopters and planes keep going over. And I am looking toward the hotels on Central Park South. It's one of those perfect days.

I'll probably be home next over Labor Day. You'll probably be moving that weekend. But maybe I'll be coming home to a new home.

I'm on my way to a Good Humor.


My predecessor is at Penn State

My new boss, named Larry Loeb, whom I haven't yet met, is to start tomorrow.

Now it's Sunday. My new boss still hasn't shown up. I think he's a figment of their imagination. They say there's some red tape with personnel. I told Marty Rubenstein that Friday August 26 would be my last day with ABC. I'll call personnel this Friday to give them the two weeks notice. If they really want me to stay they'll find a job for me that I can start on Monday August 29. And it they don't, I'll work for Kelly Girls and Manpower for a while. They pay $2.50 an hour and I'd like to see a variety of offices. I don't want to just rush into another permanent job right away.

I'm in Central Park again. It's so hard to concentrate. We are on a hill overlooking a road, the bike path, and a criss-cross of walks. Yesterday and last Saturday I went to Jones Beach on Port Authority buses. Last Saturday was freezing but yesterday was beautiful. It's worth the $3.00 to go there instead of Coney Island. The water was clean and cold and felt wonderful.

Now it's Monday August 8 and I'm back at the office. They now say that Larry Loeb will start tomorrow. I'll believe him when I see him.

Nothing special has been going on to account for my long silence. I've got a swimming ticket that's good till Nov. 29 and go swimming every other night or so. Diane and I are going to play tennis tomorrow night.

Thursday night we heard Bill Evans at the Museum of Modern Art. It's beautiful to sit out in the garden, which is artistically lit, and listen to music and look up at the skyscrapers.

Did I tell you about Theresa, who used to be Stewart's secretary? She left the job in January to go to college—Penn State. And now she's back working at ABC for the summer. She goes back to Penn State for the fall term. It's so ironic—I get out of Penn State to take this job, and she leaves the same job to go to Penn State. Talking to her, I miss college and would love to go back for a term.

The new house must be nearly finished. Do you have 212 on the market yet?

I will write more later, but mail this now.

Mon. night

I'll be a "floater"

Our street certainly sounds like it's in lamentable shape just when you're trying to sell the house. But I think it should sell fast, because the downstairs is so open and spacious-looking and the location is so good. I just thought of the pink curtain over the stairs, and how Mr. Rosencranz liked it. Will it go with the house?

It will be thrilling to come home Labor Day to a new home. And soon have a new address. You are having professional movers move the furniture? I don't care about the magazines in my room.

You will be happy to hear that today, at the interview that Personnel asked me to come for when I gave notice, I chickened out and agreed to become a "floater". This means they use you in various departments that are missing a secretary for one reason or another, until you find a spot where you would like to stay and where someone is needed permanently. The only problem is, I think I'll have a hard time getting out of Marty Rubenstein's clutches (he's Stewart's superior). He's going to tell them he needs me longer to break in my new boss. I'm going to call Personnel again tomorrow (Marty left for London tonight) and tell them if I don't start floating on the 29th, I'm quitting as planned.

I got a letter from Stewart last week. He's really something. His personality comes through in his letter loud and clear. He's so intelligent and so smooth! A super-duper person.

His replacement, Larry Loeb, is not such a rare, sparkling, magic individual. Stewart had magic like New York City has magic for me. Larry is an ordinary nice guy.

TIME OUT FOR A SWIM; it's 8:20

Now it's 2:30, Wednesdy afternoon. My new boss is doing his best to keep me busy but there is nothing at the moment. Last night I went swimming again and met a nice guy at the pool. He's an actor, does commercials. He is presently in an Ivory one with Mary Mild, plays a husband photographing his wife and baby, and the wife has rough red hands. If you see it on one of the soap operas, tell me.

What is Carol's address? I want to write to her.

My new boss, Larry, is from New Orleans. He was an undergraduate at Tulane and then went to Columbia Law School. He has also studied in Paris, and some French girl calls up frequently and they converse in French.

I've been going to church regularly, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian, strictly for the social. Last Sunday I went with Sablou, a girl from Ethiopia, and we met Dick Morey, recent grad of Columbia Law, who took us up to the George Washington bridge in his car, we walked across it, and then visited Grant's tomb. Real tourists.

Tonight Diane and I and another girl who is trying to get into acting (every other girl at the Y is trying to get into acting!) are going to an off-Broadway play, Noel Coward's "Fumed Oak".

Last weekend I went to two movies, sat through them both twice: "Gigi" and "The Idol". They were both good; I saw "Gigi" once before. Glad to hear you went to a movie. I haven't seen Dr. Zhivago yet, though it's just around the corner from the Y.

A girl from the office who lives with her family on Long Island came to visit me at the Y last night to check it out and see if she wants to move in. But I don't think she will. She's not paying any room and board at home.

Oh, I can't wait to get out of here and down to Rockefeller Center! The ABC building down there is my idea of an NYC office. Looking out the windows from the personnel office is like being on the edge of a cliff. And it just looks so uniformly office-y. The building up here is hodge-podgey.

The reason Larry took a week and a half after his scheduled arrival to finally make the scene is, he told me, he was trying to get more money out of them. He didn't manage to talk them out of another cent.

Sharon, a girl at the Y from Texas who is trying to get into modeling and in the meantime is working temporary jobs,—can't finish that sentence. When she first arrived last winter she had moonbeam blonde hair. Then she went to auburn. Then to dark brown. Recently she decided to go back to blonde. When she bleached it, it broke off all over only an inch or two from the roots. Imagine! Luckily she owns a wig (dark brown) and is wearing it all the time now, waiting for her hair to grow back.

My new boss, being fresh out of school and liking the idea of having a secretary, dictates everything instead of scribbling anything out, and dictates very fast (since he's just reading what he has written down in front of him but says he'd better dictate it because I probably couldn't read his handwriting), but I'm glad because I love trying to keep up with somebody.

This typing looks so much easier on the eyes than my first page. I should type all letters.

Time for a trip to the Xerox machine.

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