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Showing posts from December, 2013

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That time I wanted to pass myself off as Joyce Carol Oates #TBT

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I submitted my first piece of writing when I was seventeen, a story about my first job, working at the employee cafeteria at General Telephone where my mother was a dispatcher. Rolling the 20# white bond backed by a sheet of thin blue carbon paper into my Smith Corona, I typed it out slowly, carefully, on a piece of erasable paper—and mailed it off to Cosmopolitan along with a cover letter. Not just to any editor at Cosmo, by the way, I sent it directly to Helen Gurley Brown. 

The piece itself, meant to be comical, was full of clumsy attempts at self-effacing humor.  I strived for a similar tone in the cover letter I addressed to Brown, completely clueless that the high powered editor in chief wasn’t the one reading unsolicited manuscripts. After I signed off I added the following PS. I could have said I was Joyce Carol Oates. What I thought that would accomplish I can’t imagine. That an unsatisfactory submission would get published because of a lame joke? 

No surprise, in the SASE I’d …

A 'Clippie' on a Double Decker bus by day, diving from bombs by night

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Mum (Enid Maude Hayden) was born in 1925; a teenager in World War II. This picture was taken before she started coloring her hair. At sixteen she worked as a "clippie" on the double-decker buses in London. 
Running up and down the bus stairs, punching tickets. She used to tell her brothers, Robin and Peter (Don was away at the war)  "Who's got the best legs on the street and why have I?"

 Running up and down those stairs all day; no wonder! These were the times when London was being bombed, and she would take the train to London to meet some Yank she'd met and have to run home in the dark because of the lights out cerfew. They had a Morrison bed in the living room and she had to dash to it more than once - a steel cage contraption with a mattress inside. Often, as this picture shows, they used the top surface for a table.