I am jealous of the author’s life and I bet you will be too once you’ve read this memoir. Marjorie Jacobson and Marty Garrett, best friends from Iowa University set off to spend a summer in New York City after hearing from their sorority sisters what great jobs they had found. While seeking employment at all of the fine department stores along 5th Avenue, the ladies try Tiffany’s and become the first women to work on the sales floor as pages.
The story takes place in the summer of 1945 with much going on in the world. World War II is a top theme in the story with the girls attending dances and other social events meeting midshipmen along the way. The Navy boys they met often came from civilian life with a college degree and would have a living after the war so they could be a great catch.
Despite the war Marjorie and Marty spent their time experiencing all things New York. Through the people they met they were able to have a taste of high society, rubbing shoulders with celebrities at nightclubs and restaurants. They did not shop much since at the time it was more patriotic to wear what you had then buy new clothing. The girls did wear Jantzen swimsuits to their trip to the beach.
Speaking of fashion, did you know about the WAVES? The Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Services division of the US Navy came about with WWII. Surprisingly enough the uniforms were made by couture designer Mainbocher. I encourage you to do a quick google search for both the WAVES and Mainbocher for some fantastic photos. I imagine nothing was more luxurious than serving your country while wearing couture.
With women entering the military, Marjorie also touches on the fact that women were beginning to attend larger universities such as Yale. Unfortunately the conflict between higher education and the home remained. Once married, was a women’s education a waste of time and money? I think not but it was heard to sway mom and dad back then.
Truly I could not get enough. I read the book in two days with regret that every page I turned would bring me closer to the end. Marjorie’s excitement of living in the moment really transcends the pages when you read about her adventures. I just kept thinking, “Wow, this was someone’s life!” And a very exciting one. Could you imagine, Time Square at the end of WWII? Walking down 5th Avenue and seeing all of the beautifully dressed women in dresses, gloves and hats? The memoir includes some photos in the middle of the book which are just the cherry on top!