by Alden Cole on May 31, 2014 · 0 comments

Slow-Motion Memoir: An Illustrated History, installment #35

VOTEtsWPSpring 1972: The specific circumstances surrounding the creation of this piece – which client commissioned it – are forgotten. It’s very possible that it was a job that came my way through The Merchandising Group, the agency that had become my steadiest source of work. The year was memorable for me in other ways than being the year George McGovern tried unsuccessfully to unseat Richard Nixon, an election I must admit I was not paying particularly good attention to that spring because my focus was elsewhere. I was becoming a success! I was busier as an illustrator than I could have imagined the year before, having picked up new clients, improved my drawing skills, along with an ability to trace well which put to rest any ‘artistic’ scruples about using such shortcuts. Plus I was in an interesting and comfortable relationship that took the focus off looking for one. And it encouraged my desire to be ‘successful’ – to find my own variation on ‘the American Dream’. Financially, it was the most rewarding year of my young life to date. I was about to turn twenty-eight (and about to experience my first Saturn return, as I discovered years later); it felt like I was hitting my stride. From mid-January, when things started picking up after the holiday break, until mid-June, I was almost ‘too’ busy, but I was loving all the money coming in – just over $20,000 worth of work in the first six months, considerably more than I had ever made in my life in a year’s time, let alone half a year. The feeling was heady. I felt I had arrived as an illustrator, so ‘arrived’ that I decided Robert and I needed to move to a bigger better place, one with a view. So in May we packed up our belongings contained in a small two-room apartment with a tiny bath and kitchenette, on the 3rd floor of a classic brownstone at 340 W. 89th Street, that cost $150 a month, with front windows facing a wall of bricks with windows in it, the facade of the multi-floored apartment building right across the street. And we moved a bit further south to where Riverside Drive begins, to 320 W. 72nd Street, into a substantial 15 story apartment building – with a doorman – on the south side of the street, overlooking midtown Manhattan’s west side. Our three-room apartment, with one-and-a-half baths and a foyer, was on the 12th floor looking south. And what a view! But it wasn’t free. Our rent increased to $300 monthly; it seemed worth it at the time. One of our delights was watching the cruise ships coming up the Hudson, docking in midtown, then leaving, often at dusk with lights on, looking festive. It was a great diversion at dinner parties. By the end of June ’72 I was convinced that ‘My Fabulous Career” had commenced.

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