The relationship between men and women has been a source of exploration and controversy since the advent of Adam and Eve. As a young woman I found myself destined to be part of the action.
One evening I was with friends at the Ocean Grill in Vero Beach, Fla., when a young man approached our table. “There is someone who would like to meet you. Within minutes I found myself on the dance floor chatting with Johnny Podres. He was considered a baseball hero, having pitched the winning game in 1955 against the Yankees and securing the World Series for Brooklyn. I agreed to go out with him and two days later found myself sitting beside him in a bar having a cocktail. Skipping over the preliminary polite conversation he got right to what was on his mind. He said calmly “I want to make love to you.” I was used to parrying attempts at seduction but the direct approach caught me off guard. It was a short evening.
After two years in the sunshine state I returned to my parents home in Pennsylvania.
Finding myself unemployed, I decided to seek assistance from an employment agency regarding work as a fashion illustrator. I was sent to an address. When I emerged from the elevator on the second floor I found myself in a central area surrounded by empty offices. I was approached by a young man, tall with dark hair, who invited me to take a seat, motioning me toward a plastic settee and offering me a glass of Mogen David wine. He then proceeded with the interview. He explained to me that some women while waiting for their “ideal” job took on temporary work such as “modeling.” Some women modeled gloves or shoes. He suggested that I should consider modeling bras. He then went on to request that I should strip to the waist so he could see if I was qualified! I replied that I was qualified but that he would have to take my word for it! I took a final sip of wine and made a hasty retreat. I was angry at being “set up” but decided not to confront the agency. I figured they were complicit in my experience.
As it turned out, I was hired by Penn Novelty, a factory located near Fairmont Park in Philadelphia, as an embroidery designer. I rented an apartment on Spruce Street on the second floor looking out on a backyard with bushes and shade trees. The main room was large, lined with high windows and had a fireplace. I had the parquet floors redone and painted the walls.
I loved designing embroidery. One of our main clients was “Ship and Shore” blouses. I would stop by department stores and note with satisfaction that there were blouses on the shelves with my designs.
Twice a year, the president of Ship and Shore, John Netzky, would honor us with a visit. He would arrive with much fanfare, an entourage and someone carrying his briefcase. On one occasion he stopped by my drawing table to exchange a few pleasantries. After he left, my boss seemed pleased to report to me, “John Netzky would like you to be his mistress!” He went on to say that I should seriously consider his offer. “He is a man of influence and could do great things for you!” Through my “single” years I continued to be surprised by men’s assumptions where I was concerned. Couldn’t they see it was plainly etched into my forehead, “I’m not that kind of girl!”
I navigated the male – female divide until I was 30, at which time I acquired a husband. What surprises me today, 50 years later, women’s rights are still at risk. The present administration in Washington is a pack of wolves howling at the gates determined to devour us. If we care about equal pay and controlling our reproductive health we need to send representatives to Congress who will protect us.