At Last — A New Life in the Big Apple…

by Alden Cole on April 22, 2014 · 0 comments

4sketchesWPfour fashion drawings done August 1968, each 13″ x 8″ • collection of the artist

Upon release from service August 7, 1968, I pulled my few belongings together from the barracks room where I had been living with two other airmen for the last year and three-quarters, then headed back to the old home place in Maine for a week, until the Ides of August when I finally boarded a bus to NYC with high hopes for a spectacular future. I was twenty-four years old. First stop: 52nd Street and 2nd Avenue to stay for a few days with former RISD classmate, Geneva Jurkewicz, who had been living in the Big Apple for just over a year, and who kindly provided a ‘palette on the floor’ in her studio apartment for my first few days in the city. After a week plus of unsuccessful job hunting, I was a bit non-plussed when Geneva suggested that I seek other accommodations for a few days with another RISD classmate, Mervyn Clay, who lived on the West Side. I placed the call, asked the awkward question: “Hey Mervyn, I just arrived in NYC looking for work, and was wondering if you could possibly put me up for a few days?” Despite the fact that we had not been close friends in school, Mervyn graciously agreed to house me for a few days. So on a sunny afternoon in late-August, I gathered the few belongings I had brought with me, and took a taxi from Geneva’s East Side apartment to the West Side — to 89th Street and Riverside Drive, where my new life was about to begin, and where I would live for the next four years. The details are sketchy, and some totally missing, but between my arrival at 340 West 89th Street around the 20th of August, and Labor Day Weekend ten days later, I landed a job and secured an apartment (in the same building where I had been staying as a guest of Mervyn Clay) — my first ‘real’ job and a first apartment of my own. My ‘stuff’ was all packed back in Maine just waiting for a home to be moved into. I worked Friday, August 30 at my recently landed job; took the 1:00 Saturday a.m. redeye Greyhound out of Port Authority back to Maine, arriving around 8:30 in the morning. My dad picked me up in Biddeford, we rented a single-axel U-Haul trailer in town which we attached to the old Mercury. This new/old conveyance was going to provide the power to haul my Conestoga wagon of life possessions to my new promised land. There weren’t a lot of belongings yet; life was just beginning for me, so the trailer was of moderate size. Now it would require a semi, but that’s another story. Anyway, I drove myself to NYC early Sunday morning September 1st (my grandmother’s 88th birthday), unloaded my possessions into my new home, drove the car and trailer back to Maine late that afternoon, then took another Greyhound back to NYC on Monday, Labor Day, so I could be at work on Tuesday. A pretty intense weekend of travel all around.

Today’s sketches were done right after I arrived in NYC, with those women’s wear sketches in hand which I’ve featured in three recent postings — What I did during the Vietnam Conflict. At Geneva’s suggestion I drew up some men’s wear designs, then answered an ad in one of the newspapers placed by Paul Ressler Ltd. — a company specializing in young men’s sportswear, seeking a designer looking to grow with a young vital company; I interviewed and landed the job on the basis of these plus other sketches, starting at a sweet $100 per week, about what I was making per month in the Air Force. My apartment cost $125 per month, but my weekly salary soon surpassed that amount, so I assumed that I was definitely on my way UP the ladder of success.

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