Girl Coming of Age in the 1960s


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After quitting ABC I signed up with Olsten's temporary agency and tried out many different companies. The very first was the Explorers Club on the upper east side, where one day I saw a little rich girl standing by her chauffered limo as her grade-school friends thanked her for taking them to lunch. But the Explorers Club employees didn't invite me to join them at their morning coffee breaks (I had to keep typing while delicious toaster fumes wafted over), so I left there after only one week.

Letters from New York City - January 1967

Sun. night

Making a dress

It was nice to hear from you yesterday. I spent New Years Eve here in my little rabbit hole, and the noise from Times Square at midnight was really something. I could have gone to a party at this guy's apartment I went to before (the Spanish-decorated one) because he'd invited several guys stag and wanted Pam to come and bring a couple of girls. So she and Diane and another girl went, but I declined. Not on New Years Eve! You probably would think I should go, but I'm glad I didn't after hearing their account of it.

I spent most of today cutting out and marking my first project. It's a shifty dress with bodice cut on the bias, drapey neck, 3/4 sleeves, and top-stitching around the waist seam. I got bonded beige wool jersey so I won't have to line it. It's Vogue 6963. I should have gotten a really simple pattern to start out with, but this one is so pretty, it's more inspiring to work on. I'm proceeding with great care, even marked all the seam lines on the material with the tracing wheel.

These 3-day weekends are great. It's so nice, knowing I have all day tomorrow to do just as I please. And we got out of work at 1 p.m. on Friday.

Once again I'm off the idea of quitting ABC to take temporary jobs. Now I want to switch to a better permanent job. Why do I keep changing my mind?

I told you, Carole Foster in Personnel said she would let me know Friday about taking the third week in January as vacation with pay. I'd like to take a train to Boston.

Then, there are several secretarial jobs with the N.Y. Times advertised in today's Times, and the pay is good. I may call about them.

Yesterday I bought a fur hat, dyed white lamb, very fluffy, ties under the chin. I should never have gotten white. It'll get dirty fast. But it's pretty now.

I saw a matinee of "Carousel" at the City Center. It was very good, made me cry, one of those tragic inspiring musicals (the song "You'll Never Walk Alone" is in it).

Friday night Barb and I went to see "Loves of a Blonde". It's an arty Czech movie. We both liked it. Afterward I went over to see her apartment decorations.

The income tax forms have arrived. I hate to look at them; I don't want to owe any money! I shouldn't, because they know how much money I make so they ought to take out the right amount all along.

This was really a beautiful Christmas and the fireplace and the scenery at Pine Hill make it more Christmasy than 212. But oh, I pity you shoveling out that driveway again! Maybe you better write and find out where the tractor is.

This is letter night. I'm going to write everyone I owe letters to, and Carol (long long LONG overdue) is next on the list.

Tues. morn.

Quitting my job at ABC

Guess who gave notice last Friday. My last day with ABC will be Friday, January 20. I don't have another job lined up and definitely don't want one. I'm really looking forward to being "free". Maybe I won't like it for long, but I certainly want to try it, and I'll have no trouble at all getting another permanent job.

My final (second) interview with the N.Y. Times was to be last Wednesday at noon but the interviewer called me at 11 a.m. to say they had decided to keep the temporary who was filling in on the job.

Then on Friday I called Carole Foster to see if she had gotten an okay for my vacation next week. She had a long conversation with me, very eager to get me stuck in some permanent niche before she'd agree to a vacation, naturally. She was suggesting things like becoming a contract writer or work in the accounting department. Later that day, after thinking about it some more and deciding that I just didn't want to be pressured into another blah 2x4 job at the same low pay, I called her back and gave notice.

I really am looking forward to it. The first day I take off I am going to celebrate by having breakfast at the Colombian Coffee House in the Americana. You remember, Mother, we stopped there after seeing "The Rose Tattoo" at the City Center and you liked their coffee mugs. Every morning on the way to ABC I look down at the people having breakfast there (It's below sidewalk level) and wish that I were them, sitting over a leisurely breakfast on a weekday.

Wednesday morning, continued:

I'll just add some more to this and then mail it when I go out to lunch.

Mrs. Durrall of the N.Y. Times called this morning. She said the girl who was hired for a job in their Promotion Department failed to show up for it and would I like to come for an interview tomorrow to see the department? So I said yes and will go tomorrow at noon.

That palmistry book is so right about me. It says I am the type who is acted upon by life, instead of acting on life. Whatever I end up doing is dependent on which way the wind blows at the moment.

Tonight I'm going to my first opening-night performance. It's an off-Broadway production of "By Jupiter", an old Rodgers & Hart musical. A friend of Pam's has a part in it.

My dress is coming along beautifully, except that the waist seam comes to a V in front and the V is off center and I don't know what I can do about it. Maybe it will hang right when I get the zipper in.

The clippings you sent in your last letter were all very informative. Maybe Barbara Fogarty will see Paul Doughty when she gets to Lackland, if he hasn't already left for Illinois.

I'm glad the tractor arrived. Now I won't hesitate to come home if it's snowing. In fact, I bet it's really fun driving the thing around. It would be very easy to make a huge snow fort in a hurry with it.

I don't think I ever loved a present so much as I love the sewing machine. I've loved every minute so far of working on this dress, and have big plans for making other things. It's so nice to be doing something creative, getting something done, and being able to think about other things at the same time. And saving money. This dress altogether is costing $11.00.

Lunch time.


I hate being a secretary

Two more days to go here! This last week with ABC I am back up on 66th Street in the News Department and it's like old home week. I've seen my old bosses, Marty Rubenstein and Larry Loeb, who replaced Stew Cheifet, and the Music Department.

Stew was back here for Christmas one day and came to visit, they tell me. He is no longer working for his uncle, the Hollywood TV producer. Right after the holidays he was leaving for Paris, to take up his new job as #2 man at the Paris bureau of CBS. And remember, he was going with his previous secretary, and she went out to California with him? Sam Antar (another of the young lawyers under MR) told me that is over, and that she is staying in Los Angeles.

The poor Music Department is struggling along as usual, minus Jean. [Jean, the department head and a lovely person, quit her job sometime after her mother died. They had lived together for many years and she was depressed at the loss.] The atmosphere over there is pathetic. Latest development—they hired a new girl there in October, when I was back as a floater for a month, if you remember. She was fresh out of high school and far from her home in Ohio. Well, she and Pat are moving in together. Tomorrow, in a $205/month one-bedroom at 222 East 75th. I bet the arrangement doesn't last two months. They aren't compatible at all, and since they have to spend all day together at work, too.

Oh, I can't wait to get out of here. Anything is better than this absolute trapped boredom. I hate being a scretary. I hate jumping every minute he buzzes me, I hate dialing his calls for him every two minutes (why can't he ever dial a local extension call himself?). I hate paying for his lunches when he orders in and having to decide how much to tip the delivery boy while he just sits in there and then pays me back afterward. Why can't he just pay him in the first place?

This last burst is due to the fact that the man I'm working for this week just announced that he's cancelling his trip to Washington (was supposed to leave in 1/2 hour) because of snow there, and I won't have today and tomorrow to myself as I thought.

My dress is coming along pretty well. The skirt part is a little tight and I think if I let it out just on the side that the middle V leans toward, it might make it hang just right. I have one sleeve left to put in and the hem.

Monday night I went to a modern dance class at the Y. It costs $2.50 for 1 1/2 hours. The teacher is a man, Marvin Gordon. Never have I exercised so killingly. Four days later I still feel it. I should have gone back to the Wednesday class but didn't. Definitely will go again next Monday. I bought tights and a leotard for it, and feel so much like a real dancer in them. Though in the last half hour of the class, which is devoted to actually dancing around in combinations of steps which I mix up as soon as he's finished demonstrating them, I am lousy. But the first part, those incredibly horrible exercises, are wonderful.

Several nights ago I went to an off-Broadway production of "By Jupiter" with Pam. It's an old Rodgers and Hart musical and a guy she knows stars in it (Bob Kaye. He's in a group picture on the front page of the theater section of the Times last Sunday).

Barb Fogarty had free tickets to the musical "Walking Happy" and we went. It was one of the good old type that they seem to be getting away from, with lots of spectacular moving scenery.

She took the oath on Sunday. Enters the Air Force training program in Texas on March 12. She's leaving N.Y. on Feb. 3 to be home for a month first. She plans to buy a car and drive to Texas, with a man recruiting officer from N.Y. who also has to be in Texas at that time.

I wish you were coming to visit this week, Mother. Funny, I was thinking about it too, before your letter, that it was time for you to come again. I really do love having you stay with me, and any time at all is propitious. Why don't you come next week? My first week of running around to different jobs, I may need moral support.

Sun. night

Working as an Olsten's temp

Just a quick note, as I'm meeting Charlie in 15 minutes.

This has been the most eerie weekend. Pam D., one of my good friends here (the girl I played the equity agent audition for) had a nervous breakdown Friday night. She was really paranoiac. Thought people were following her, told me her life was in danger, was afraid, terrified, of taking two steps alone. She went to the FBI. She thought the company she was working for was embezzling money, and that they knew she knew, and were trying to kill her.

Her parents came and took her home to Buffalo early Saturday morning. I'll write you all about it tomorrow night.

Tomorrow I start a week of work at the Mobil Oil Co. on E. 42nd.

I'm really glad you came last week, Mother. Though as usual, I felt sad after you left. Thanks for the cookies and the helpful money. Ingrid did pay me back. You left your toothbrush here. I'll bring it home next time.

I will write again tomorrow.

Wed. morn.

A nervous breakdown

Your letter came yesterday, with the tons of snow. The snow here was really something, still is. Cars couldn't move at all, last night Broadway was deserted. I am working at the Corn Products Co. this week, in the Steuben Glass building at 5th Ave. & 56th. Am so glad that I'm in walking distance of work, with the snow transportation snarls. Yesterday everyone left early here, me at 2:30. Of course, I don't get paid for the 2 hours missing (hours this week: 8:45-4:30) but it was nice to get out in the blizzard.

I was supposed to be at Mobil Oil this week, but felt so rotten Monday morning (partly because of my cold, plus added complications, plus that louse Charlie, who made me feel rotten Sunday night) that I called in sick. That's a lovely thing about working temporary. I just called Olsten's and told them I wouldn't be able to go, and they are so nice, because they need to keep me, and said to call back later if I felt like working the next day. So I did, and am at Corn Products, which is a large friendly place. My nice boss lives on Long Island and hasn't gotten in yet because of the snow.

This morning I wrote to a box number advertisement in the Times for secretaries (at $3.50 an hour) to work full or part time on a special project for a large company until June. That sounds great. Full time, it'd be $122.50 a week, and I could look forward to still being uncommitted for the summer. I know what you mean about this temporary business not leading anywhere, but I cherish the idea of a summer with freedom to go to the beach a lot. Just one summer.

Chris's report card, by the way, sounds wonderful. All those As! Terrific. It would be nice if he could come in on the 24th.

This job I'm on now is supposed to end next Tuesday Feb. 14 and I want to come home on Wednesday the 15th and stay till Saturday or Sunday. I can afford it, haven't been spending any money lately. Is that okay? Can you pick me up in Scranton Wednesday evening?

Last weekend with Pam's departure was horrible. The atmosphere around here was like she'd died.

I saw her in the lobby Friday night after dinner and she said to come to her room. So I did, but then she thought it wasn't safe to talk there and we went up to my room. After looking up and down the hall and locking my door and testing it, she said "My life may be in danger." And she came out with this story about the company she'd been working for temporarily (Girls Clubs of America) embezzling money, and how they knew she knew, and were going to kill her. People had been following her.

She was a complete wreck. I can't explain it all in a letter. Her parents came for her that night. I wrote to her on Sunday.

My boss just called in to say he is snowed in and won't be in today. So I have nothing to do.

They pipe in music at this compnay. It's really nice. There is a cafeteria, run by Schrafft's, very cheap.

Last night Judy Fisher and I went for a walk in the snow. it's piled high all over, we climbed several mountains.

Judy has a TV and it's nice to watch it in her room. She also has a sewing machine, electric typewriter, stereo, etc. Her room looks very homey. She makes things for it. She studies interior design.

Still haven't finished my dress. It just doesn't look right, so annoying.

Here I am with nothing to do. But would feel funny taking out my book, since everyone else looks busy.

The lunch menus just came around. They send everyone one about an hour before lunch each day. I'm going to have clam chowder (19 cents a bowl) and a bacon & tomato sandwich on toasted cheese bread (50 cents). 8:45 seems like such an early hour after all my 9:30s.

I can't come home Wednesday the 15th. Would have to be Friday. I just found out that Charlie will be acting in one of his shows on Friday the 17th. His musical, "The Young Mozart", is short a Haydn, which he will play. I got the idea, as usual, that he didn't want me to see him do it. But I just called Harnick-Adams Productions and found out it's that Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the 92nd St. Y and I won't tell him, of course, but I'm going. Because I've never seen him on stage (except on TV) and would love to see what he's like.

Maybe I'll come home Friday and stay through Monday or Tuesday. You have no idea how lovely it feels to feel so free. It depends on if this box number I wrote to answers. I told them I would be available to start work on Monday Feb. 20.

Anyway, I feel like coming home soon. Maybe it will end up a last-minute telephone arrangement. But I'll probably see you next week.

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