Friday, August 6, 2010

Chapter 4, Part 5 - 1960

My senior year at Marywood started out really great. I was modeling in Chicago and also was hired for a job in the Cosmetic section at Carson Pirie Scott – a very large upscale Department Store in the heart of downtown Chicago. I was making minimum wage plus commission on the cosmetics I sold. I was the youngest employee in that department. I started working there during the summer in-between my junior and senior years. I had started out as a “temp” and never knew which department I would be working in when I showed up for work each day. I started out working in the gift wrap department which paid off because I learned how to do fancy gift wrapping, plus how to make bows. There were no “ready made” bows back then. I liked working in gift wrap.

Over time, I got a permanent position in the Cosmetic/Perfume department. I had decided to work in a steadier job since modeling was sporadic at best. I spent the summer with my father in Chicago and really hated the ancient run down hotel he was living in, so getting a steady job got me out of there plus gave me an income and kept me busy. I took the bus to and from work and many times worked until 10:00 PM when the store closed. The (Plaza) hotel was about one or two miles from the department store. I remember if I worked a full 40 hour week, after taxes etc I cleared $53.28 per week which was considered pretty good back then. For example you could rent a fairly decent two bedroom apartment for $50.00 a month. Everything was a whole lot cheaper then.

My father still traveled to nearby states and was gone most of the time so I had the apartment to myself a lot. When he was home I had to sleep in a folding cot they would bring to the room. It was a very tiny apartment with a “kitchen” that was behind two folding doors. There was a restaurant in the lobby of the hotel (the “Hasty Tasty”) and we ate most of our meals there or had them delivered to the room. We did very little cooking. It was located on a corner across the street from Lincoln Park – a very large park slightly north of downtown Chicago. The hotel was about two blocks from Lake Michigan. I really hated that place with a passion. I actually looked forward to returning to boarding school!

There was an old movie theater across the street from the hotel and I found myself going to movies often, even watching the same movie over and over again. It was 25 cents to go to the movie there.

My roommate that year was a very sweet girl whose mother was terminally ill so her dad put her in boarding school. It was very difficult for her at home. Her name was Marilyn MacNamara.

Once a year there was a big event to raise quite a bit of money for the school. The students in the drama class would put on a play. At the play there was a program that was handed out with the list of actors and scenes etc. The job of the other students was to sell ads that would go in the program which is what raised the money. It was $100 for a full page ad, $50 for a half page and $25 for a quarter of a page. Many of the students had parents that owned their own businesses so it was quite a lucrative project. It was also easier for the day students to sell ads than it was for the boarders.

Each student had a “quota” of ads they had to sell. The incentive was that they would get a Monday off from school. The students that didn’t sell the quota would be required to come to school and spend all day in “study hall”.

My roommate and I just didn’t know anyone to talk into buying ads. Amazingly, we were the only two students in the entire high school that failed to sell our quota. The boarders were required to come back to school on Sunday nights after the week-ends and Marilyn and I were not only the only two boarders that had to return on Sunday night, but the only two students in the school that were going to have to spend all day Monday in study hall.

When we came back on Sunday night, Marilyn showed up with a fifth of bourbon she had taken from her dad’s liquor cabinet and she planned for the two of us to “party down”. Big, big mistake……


  1. Hello Sharon. Thanks for telling this story. It’s really interesting. My wife went to Marywood as well and has many fond memories of it also.

  2. Thanks for your comment Billy. I hope to continue with my story soon. I should be better by March.

  3. Sharon, I read your article with much interest and glad you wrote your blog. I was a Willmark operative back in the early 60's and checked Playboy Clubs in Baltimore and Atlanta. I remember one bunny quite well in Baltimore that told me about her daughter and touched my heart. I have linked your blog to a Willmark Service facebook page that is a work in progress. Would like to hear from you. Joe

  4. Joe - Wow! I don't know if I ever met or talked to one of the "detectives" from Willmark! At least I never got called in the office about something bad...or something good for that matter! You did keep us on our toes, for sure. Thank you for the link...I appreciate that...very nice! Thank you too for the comment, I always love to get comments, lets me know how I'm doing....
    Thanks again, Sharon