Manhattan during the summer of 1945, as the author remembers it.
The country was at war, food was rationed and money was tight, but University of Iowa coeds Marjorie Jacobson (now Hart) and Marty Garrett somehow scraped together $40 each to buy roundtrip train tickets so they could spend a summer in New York. On arrival, the Midwestern beauties sublet an apartment in Morningside Heights and landed jobs as pages at Tiffany & Co. Never before had the venerable store hired young women to run errands from the sales floors to the mysterious upper reaches of the fabled Fifth Avenue emporium, but during wartime, everyone had to sacrifice. The discreet tap of a salesman’s diamond ring (they all sported one) against a glass display case would set Marjorie and Marty, wearing silk dresses that matched Tiffany’s trademark blue, skittering in high heels across polished floors. Between assignments, they watched for celebrity shoppers. Who could be next? Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli? Marlene Dietrich? The Duke of Windsor? In the evenings and on weekends, the wide-eyed yet commonsensical duo embraced all that 1945 New York had to offer: the Stork Club, The Glass Menagerie and Carousel on Broadway, ice cream sundaes at Schrafft’s. Midshipmen escorted them to Jack Dempsey’s and to Greenwich Village eateries. Kindly neighbors invited them over for lemonade and musical evenings at which Marjorie played the cello. Along the way, they developed crushes on men in uniform and endured such mild work traumas as a string of pearls coming undone in an elevator, but the undoubted highlight of their summer was joining two million other revelers in Times Square on August 14 when Truman announced victory in Japan. The 82-year-old author’s memories have been polished smooth over the course of six decades, and her warm account of more innocent times makes an unspoken comparison with the way we live now.
A fond backward glance.