I Know Eve's from Brooklyn - New York City, 1968

This is a story that has been a long time in the telling, because it goes back to 1968 and my one and only trip to New York City.  I am a licensed cosmetologist and in 1968 we were living in Southern California.  There was an ad in the classifieds in the biggest Los Angeles newspaper, for a job as a color technician for a large hair coloring manufacturing company.  Since my specialty in the beauty field, had been hair color, I was immediately interested.  So I applied.  After being hired I was put through a background investigation ,almost as if  I was going into the Secret Service . I had several day long tests to see if I could REALLY “see” color, so now I was on my way to train for the job in NEW YORK CITY.

The company arranged for my plane trip, and transportation from the airport to the hotel, where we would be staying.  Our transportation to and from the laboratory was arranged for also.   So, I was off on an ADVENTURE.  I would be spending Six weeks in New York, working every day in the Lab, learning the products and their uses.

The beginning of the adventure was when I stepped on the plane at LAX, and we  taxied out for takeoff.   The plane was almost filled to capacity and after about 20 minutes of waiting for takeoff the pilot came on the intercom and announced that we have a little electrical problem, that would be fixed soon and then we would take off.  I am absolutely terrified of flying and my heart was all ready in my throat.  So I began a conversation with my seating companion, a lovely gal who was going home to New York City.  We were told about the electrical problem for nearly an hour and a half, still sitting on the tarmac.  I was getting more and more anxious, and my seating companion, Rose, (who became a dear and lifelong friend of mine, )was trying her best to comfort me.  Suddenly two Catholic Nuns got up from their seats and demanded to be let off the plane.  I told Rose that if THEY were going to get off so was I.  They had more influence with the higher power then I did, and they felt the need to get off.  Well, they opened the door and put up stairs to let the Nuns off and both Rose and I were right behind them.  They taxied us back to the terminal, and we left about two hours later on a later flight.

During our flight a wonderful looking man sitting near my new friend Rose and I, came over to us.  I told Rose that I was sure he was attracted to her, and she was single, so when he came over to us I was happy, thinking she may have a new friend.  I was forty years old, very overweight, I thought, and married, so I was sure he wanted to meet my friend.  Well, WRONG, he must have liked “Zoftic” women, because he wanted to meet me.  We had a fun trip with the three of us talking.

We arrived in New York, couldn’t land at Kennedy, where we were scheduled because of fog, so landed at Newark and were bussed to Kennedy, then we, along with the man we had met on the plane, shared a taxi to our respective destinations.  My luggage didn’t catch up with me for three days, so I’m sure my coworkers got very tired of seeing the same outfit, on me, every day.

Our hotel was in the Bronx on the Grand Concourse, and the laboratory was in Harlem, so we took the subway, or several of the trainees would share a cab, to go to work.  It was a wonderful experience.   The days that we shared a cab, I always sat up front with the driver so I could put my head down where I couldn’t see where we were going.  Our cab driver, (we ended up getting a regular driver who called for us every morning,) drove like there was always an extra lane just for him, and it scared me silly, so all the other gals that I worked with would make me sit up there and keep my head down so I wouldn’t make so much noise, or tell the cab driver how to drive.

We learned the technical things about our products in the morning, then every afternoon we had ladies who came into the lab to have their hair colored, to give us the opportunity to use the products on real people.  The “models” that came in to the lab, were a procession of ‘unforgettable ladies’ who came in on a regular basis.  Didn’t have their color done anywhere else.  Most of these ladies were homeless or living in sub standard conditions, and this was the only time they even had their hair washed by professionals, and some of them ONLY had it washed when they came to the lab.  Among these ‘unforgettable models’ was a lady who came in with lipstick applied clear up to the nostrils, and it made her look a little like Minnie Mouse.  We trainees fell in love with this parade of humanity, that though they were really down on their luck, they still cared enough about their appearance to get up to the Lab.

My first model was a homeless lady, who was a little strange, but still well enough to be on her own.  When she sat down in my chair to have the salon cape put on her for the color to be applied, she reached down in her purse and pulled out a pair of rubber gloves.  She carefully pulled them on to her hands and then looked at me and said, “We can start now.”  I said yes ma’am, but why did you put on the gloves?  She said “You are new here and probably don’t know, but the directions that are on the bottle of color that you are going to apply to my hair say that rubber gloves MUST be worn during application.”

I spoke to the instructor and she said that this lady did this each time she came in and they finally quit trying to tell her that it was the technician who had to wear the rubber gloves.

I think of her often, and wonder if she is still wearing her rubber gloves.  I hope that if she has not gone to that hair salon run by the Angels Hair coloring team, that she is still using the gloves that helped us color her hair, so many years ago.

There were so many adventures on this trip to New York.  The man we met on the plane flying to New York, was a jewelry salesman who was in New York to attend a jewelry convention.  He called me to see if we could go to dinner with he and his friend who had joined him for the convention.  I called Rose and she couldn’t go, so one of the girls who was in training with me at Roux, went with me and we met the guys in Manhattan, and went to a lovely restaurant for dinner.  Then we walked down Broadway and did the “tourist tour” that everyone does when they go to New York.  It was a magical evening and at the end of it my friend and I returned to our hotel in the Bronx, and both of the jewelry salesmen retreated to their hotel in Manhattan.

While in New York I got to see two Broadway shows.  I had heard of “Broadway” all my life, but never had the thought that I would ever get to actually go to see any of the shows.  Well, I saw “Hello Dolly” starring Pearl Bailey and Cab Calloway, and it was wonderful.  “Pearlie Mae”, as she was called, made Dolly Levi, her own and I loved seeing what she did with it.  Of course Cab Calloway had always been one of my favorite entertainers with his “Hidey Hidey Ho” and I even got his autograph when we left the theater.  Then I saw my forever favorite stage play, “Fiddler On The Roof”.  I laughed and cried through this entire production .  I was married to my Jewish husband Bernie, for nearly thirty years, until his death, and his family came from Kiev, Russia.  His father was persecuted and finally banished to Siberia for his politics.  He eventually escaped, and came to the United States.  But the story of Tevye was close to my heart because I lived it through the stories my husband, and his family told.

The other Roux trainees and I selected a night and all went to the Tower Restaurant, atop one of the tallest buildings in New York, where you did not select what you would eat, rather they brought you course after course, we had 10 in all, and in those days it cost $10. We gals all thought this was a huge amount of money for one meal.  But oh so worth it.  The whole experience was fantastic.

My best friend at the training was a gal from Baton Rouge, La. named Jane, and we spent a lot of time together.  We stayed at the Grand Concourse Hotel in the Bronx, arranged and paid for by Roux, the company we were in training for, and the hotel manager decided that he was going to become VERY friendly with my friend Jane.  I received a phone call in my room one early evening and she told me to come to her room right away.  I got there just in time to see the hotel manager chasing her all over the room.  Of course as soon as he saw me, he was gone.  This, of course is what Jane had hoped for, that when he saw me he would leave.

During the entire six weeks  we were there, Jane’s daughter came in from Philadelphia, where she was working, to spend the weekend.  So Jane and I would go to the Port Authority Bus Station to meet her each Friday night.  What characters we saw there every time we went.  We spotted the little gal who came to the laboratory to have her hair colored.  The one who wore “Minnie Mouse” lipstick.  We had many men who flirted with us, most of them street people, but it was funny to see the “moves” they tried.

Our last evening, after our training was over and we were to all return to our respective homes, we had a farewell dinner, paid for by Roux, at a restaurant called “Danny’s Hideaway”.  There we got to meet and dine with the executives of the company.  I have always ‘taken on’ the dialect of any group I am with, and quickly, so as we sat around the big table the vice-president of the company looked around the table and said, “Well I’m not sure where any of the rest of you are from, but I know that Eve (me) is from Brooklyn.”  Wrong!!  The ‘dialect bug’ had struck again.

 

This vice president is still my friend.  He lives in Jacksonville, Fla.  Neither of  us work for Roux any longer but we have kept in touch all the years.  Jane, my friend from the hotel and work, stayed close also, until she died in 1979, but her daughter, who used to come in every weekend kept in touch for years,  and Rose, my friend from my plane ride from LAX at the beginning of the New York trip, has always been very close to me.  She visits me in Las Vegas whenever she can, and we often “relive” our New York trip in memory.  She phoned me last week.  Fast friends from a plane trip to New York City.

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