~ Archive for Uncategorized ~

Attitudes toward work and child labor in Ancient Rome

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SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard sheds some light on the world of work and child labor in the maybe-not-so-good old days.

Would a Roman have worked if he could collect SSDI, live in public housing, shop at the supermarket with EBT, and see a doctor on the taxpayers’ dime?

Cicero turned his scorn on those who worked for a living: ‘The cash that comes from selling your labour is vulgar and unacceptable for a gentleman … for wages are effectively the bonds of slavery.’ It became a cliché of Roman moralising that a true gentleman was supported by the profits of his estates, not by wage labour, which was inherently dishonourable. Latin vocabulary itself captured the idea: the desired state of humanity was otium (not so much ‘leisure’, as it is usually translated, but the state of being in control of one’s own time); ‘business’ of any kind was its undesirable opposite, negotium (‘not otium’).

Unfortunately there was no Welfare State 2000 years ago:

Cicero and most of the elite professed to despise wage labour. But for the majority of the urban inhabitants of the Roman world, as now, their job was the key to their identity. It was usually tough. Most people who needed a regular income to survive (and that was most people) worked, if they could, until they died; the army was an exception in having any kind of retirement package, and even that usually involved working a small farm. Many children worked as soon as they were physically capable, whether they were free or slave. Skeletons of the very young have been discovered in excavations with clear signs in their bones and joints of hard physical labour; one particular cemetery just outside Rome, near an ancient laundry and textile works, contains the remains of young people who obviously had years of heavy work behind them (showing the effects of the stamping and the treading needed in the treatment of cloth, rather than of skipping and ball games). Children are even commemorated as workers in their epitaphs. Modern sensibilities might hope that the simple tombstone in Spain of a four-year-old child, shown carrying his mining tools, was put up in memory of some young local mining mascot. Most likely he was an active worker.

Only the offspring of the rich spent their youth learning grammar, rhetoric, philosophy and how to make speeches – or the less meaty syllabus, from reading and writing to spinning and music, offered to girls. Child labour was the norm. It is not a problem, or even a category, that most Romans would have understood. The invention of ‘childhood’ and the regulation of what work ‘children’ could do only came fifteen hundred years later and is still a peculiarly Western preoccupation. Their tombstones make clear how important work was to the personal identity of ordinary Romans. Whereas Scipio Barbatus, and others like him at the top of the social hierarchy, emphasised the political offices they had held or the battles they had won, many more people blazoned what they did as a job. More than 200 occupations are known in this way from the city of Rome alone. Men and women (or whoever commissioned their memorials) often summarised their careers in just a few words and images, with a job description and some recognisable symbols of their craft. Gaius Pupius Amicus, for example, an ex-slave and by trade a dyer of ‘purple’ – a notoriously expensive dye, extracted from tiny shellfish and according to law used only to colour cloth worn by senators and the emperor – proudly described himself as a purpurarius and had various items of his craft equipment carved on the stone. Other tombs displayed sculptured panels depicting the deceased in action at their job, from midwives and butchers to a particularly splendid seller of poultry.

More: read SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

Local election issues in our rich suburb of Boston

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Three people are running for two “selectmen” seats in our rich suburb of Boston. They came to a neighborhood gathering to campaign and take questions.

The first hot-button issue was whether our town should officially designate itself a “sanctuary city.” (My perspective is that our town is already a sanctuary city in that we welcome any undocumented immigrant with at least $2 million to spend on a house; I refrained from sharing this.) None of the people at the neighborhood gathering could remember inviting an actual immigrant, documented or undocumented, to a dinner party, but they tripped over themselves to express support for the idea of providing sanctuary. One of the more realistic folks noted that it would be primarily landscapers who were illegal and we should plan acts of resistance if ICE showed up to round up illegals in our sparsely settled village (two-acre zoning minimum).

To a question about school quality and whether or not we should strive to unseat Lexington and Newton in the minds of house-shopping parents, immediately people talked about how we can’t possible match those towns because (1) they spend more money than we do, and (2) we have dark-skinned children in our schools from the METCO program. A town school committee member pointed out that we actually spend more money per student than Lexington and Newton. This web page says “The [Newton] METCO Program is open to all children of African American, Latino, Asian and Native American descent who reside in the City of Boston and volunteer to participate.” This web page says that “It is a voluntary integration program that provides a suburban public school education for African-American, Hispanic and Asian students from Boston. The Lexington Public Schools have participated in the program since 1968.” (See this post about schools in Finland for how a school with an above-average number of poor dark-skinned children tested above average; a teacher is quoted as saying that he tries to remain ignorant of students’ family background and situation.)

Nobody wanted to ask “Well, if these other towns spend less money and also have METCO, might it simply be holding ourselves to a lower standard?” On the other hand, fears were expressed that if we did somehow manage to drag ourselves up to the Lexington/Newton standard, families with children would flock to our town and the schools would become overcrowded (so we provide sanctuary for undocumented immigrants but we hope that they don’t have any school-age kids?).

Traffic was damned. Our roads are narrow, which makes them unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists. But if we widen them cars will drive faster and it will become even more dangerous. Nobody asked “If we have two-acre zoning and almost everyone here is rich, why can’t we build dedicated and separated bike lanes and sidewalks like they retrofitted to Copenhagen?”

Valley of the Dolls: Divorce

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Valley of the Dolls describes events taking place between about 1945 and 1965. and was published in 1966. How did the characters think about divorce?

The beautiful 25-year-old is divorcing her husband:

“For a smart girl, she did one very stupid thing. Seems she signed a little thing like a premarital agreement. If she wants out, she doesn’t get a dime. And she wants out. Won’t say why — just wants to unload him. So she’s got to work.”

What precipitated the lawsuit?

“Mother, why do you think I ran? Just before we were to go to Italy, I found out he had no money.” “What do you mean? I saw the pictures in the papers! The diamond necklace, the mink coat. . .” “The necklace belongs in his family. He bought me the mink, but I think he got it free for the publicity we gave the furrier. He had a whole floor at the Waldorf, but a wine company was footing the bill. He was like a good-will ambassador for them. His title is legitimate — very royal — but he hasn’t a dime. They lost everything when Mussolini took over. They have some horrible big castle outside of Naples. I could live there, scrounging among the international set, wearing the family jewels . . . living in genteel poverty. I was lucky I found out in time. He told me he was rich because he thought a beautiful American wife would be an asset over there. After we were married I learned the bitter facts. Then he started telling me of some rich Italian wine merchant I had to play up to — go all the way if the guy wanted me. Mother, he was a high-class pimp, when you get down to it. I was lucky to be able to keep the mink coat.”

A rising star in her early 20s plans a divorce in hopes of an upgraded husband and the conversation gives her friend and idea:

“I got to get fitted for another diaphragm. Twice last month Mel didn’t pull out in time. That sonofabitch is trying to get me pregnant.” “I thought you wanted children.” “Not with him. I’m gonna unload him.” “Neely!” “Look, he’s a drag. Honest, Jennifer, he’s changed completely. He has no incentive. I talked it over with The [movie studio] Head, and he agrees. Mel just gets in the way. He insisted I shouldn’t lose weight, kept yelling I was fine just as I am. But now that I’m losing weight I’m getting the real star buildup with some glamour. See, Mel is in a rut. He’s small time, and he won’t get with it and change. But I gotta be careful. See, there’s community property out here. Mel could claim half of everything.” “What will you do?” “It’s all being worked out.” She lowered her voice to a real whisper. “The Head is seeing to it that Mel gets a big offer in the East. With one of the top publicity offices. I’ll make him go. The Head is going to fix it, have him caught — you know — with a girl. And I’ll get the divorce.” “Neely, you can’t!” “Well, what can I do? I hinted at divorce last week, and you know what he did? He started crying like a baby. He said he couldn’t live without me. Is that a drag? I need a man who tells me what to do, a guy I can lean on, not one who leans on me. And all I’d ever have to do is get knocked up by him and then he’d never leave, not even for New York.”

Jennifer thought about Mel as she drove home. She suddenly wondered how Tony felt about her. Was she a drag, too? If Tony didn’t get the picture she was going to insist they go back to New York. He could do the radio show from there. But he would get the picture. She knew he would. And she’d be stuck here. Soon Tony would start feeling about her like Neely felt about Mel — if he didn’t already. There would be stars playing opposite him in pictures, and young starlets chasing after him. How long could she go on sitting like this? She was almost twenty-seven, and soon it would begin to show. . . . She almost went through a traffic light as the idea hit her. Why hadn’t she thought of it before? A baby! She would have a baby! It would bring Tony closer to her, and she’d have something to occupy her thoughts. Something to love. Oh, God, how she’d love it . . . they’d be so close. It would be a girl, it had to be! And she’d be a wonderful mother. She was exhilarated when she got home. It would be her secret. She dressed with great care for the party. She would start her new project tonight!

Lawyers we interviewed told us that the selling of abortions had begun in the U.S. in the 1990s (see the “History of Divorce” chapter and “Child Support Litigation without a Marriage”). But the book contains an offer by Tony’s sister and minder:

Her eyes shot to Jennifer’s waistline. “No coffee. Let’s cut the social crap and get to cases.” Jennifer held onto her smile. “And what does the case happen to be?” Miriam’s eyes narrowed. “Is it really Tony’s baby?” “Wait till you see it,” Jennifer snapped. “I’m sure it will be the image of him.” Miriam got up and began to pace. Then she turned to Jennifer and said, “How much do you want to get rid of it?” Jennifer’s stare was icy. “Look, if it’s money you want, I’ll give it to you,” Miriam said. “I’ll give you a big settlement. In writing. And you can also have the thousand a week without the baby. Just get rid of it.” Jennifer felt confused. “Does Tony know about this? Is this what he wants?” “No, Tony don’t know I’m here. I told him I was going to Chicago to see his radio sponsor and make a better deal. I’m here on my own, to plead with you, before you get in your fourth month and it’s too late to get rid of it.” Jennifer’s voice was low and tense. “You know, Miriam, I never really hated you until this moment. I always thought you were selfish, but at least it was for Tony. Now I know better. You’re evil.” “And you’re the All-American Mother!” Miriam snorted. “You’re just dying to walk in the park pushing a baby buggy, I suppose?”

An abortion cost $1000 in 1947, $10,762 in 2016 dollars:

She never gave Anne or Henry any reason for her sudden decision. She found the doctor by herself, a nice, antiseptic-looking man in New Jersey. There was a clean operating table and an efficient nurse. It cost a thousand dollars. The nurse jabbed her arm with the needle — sodium pentothal, it was called, and it was a greater sensation than even Seconals. When she woke, it was over. Two weeks later it was as if it had never happened. Her waistline returned to normal and she flew to Mexico for the divorce.

More: Read Valley of the Dolls

Maui tourism tips

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If you want to spend most of your time on a hotel’s beach or at a hotel’s pool, I recommend the Wailea area rather than Kaanapali, which is more crowded and less relaxing, though better for long walks on an actual beach. The price differences are negligible. The Four Seasons Wailea is considered the best hotel on the island by experienced Maui tourists and if you factor in the square footage of the rooms and the lack of a “resort fee” tacked on, the price may actually be less than what other hotels charge. If you book through WhataHotel.com you’ll get a free room upgrade and an included buffet breakfast (about $100 for two people otherwise).

[We learned that the hotel bar is at its liveliest on Monday and Tuesday nights and that local women enjoy coming there to meet visitors, a mixture of corporate convention attendees and folks willing to pay $800 per night from their own pockets. We asked why locals would bother driving down from Lahaina, considering that Hawaii has a surplus of single men and is 9/50 when states are ranked by male:female ratio. “Women say that there are plenty of guys, but they want someone with more ambition and a better career,” was the answer. (What happens if the bar encounter turns into a pregnancy? About $72,000 per year in tax-free cash under Hawaii’s child support guidelines.)]

If you want to be on the go, I suggest staying in an off-the-beach hotel or condo near downtown Lahaina. If you can walk down to the marina there you’ll never be bored. You can use the money that you saved from not staying in a resort to take a submarine ride, a day trip to Lanai, a snorkel trip to Molokini, a whale watch, etc. You can enjoy the crazy huge banyan tree every day (planted only in 1873; one look at this tree and you’ll realize what awesome job security a landscaper has in Hawaii).

Staying in Wailea and want to snorkel around Molokini? Go through the surf to get on the Kai Kanani. Their sunrise trip is usually nearly empty so you can wait for a morning when the wind and waves seem light and then drive directly to the boat to hop on at 6:15 am. The nearest competitors will require you to drive in a car for about 30 minutes and then drive back down to where you started in the boat for about 30 minutes.

All of the helicopter tour operators are in a row at the main airport (follow signs for “heliport”) so maybe stop in and pick a tour after you get your rental car. I suggest going as early in the morning as possible and on a day when the winds are forecast to be calm. Wind+mountains = turbulence. It won’t be unsafe but it might be uncomfortable. Even if I weren’t a helicopter nerd I would suggest a helicopter as the best way to see Hawaii. A lot of the most beautiful areas are inaccessible by road.

Every local’s favorite burger joint: Cool Cat Cafe in Lahaina.

If you need to cover a wall with a tropical flower painting: Anna Keay.

If you love old maps and high-quality reproductions of old maps: Printsellers in Lahaina.

Note that Maui is not immune to the “vog” pollution coming out of the volcano on the Big Island. If you insist on blue skies and clean air, check the volcano activity level and consider booking on Kauai or Oahu instead.

Meet for coffee near Vail, Colorado this week?

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Folks:

I’m packing up for a trip to visit friends at the Arrowhead mountain (near Vail, Colorado). Is anyone out there living or skiing who wants to meet for coffee? If so, please email  philg at mit.edu . Thanks in advance.

Valley of the Dolls: Sex Outside of Marriage

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Valley of the Dolls describes events taking place between about 1945 and 1965. and was published in 1966. How did the characters think about sex outside of marriage?

No character condemns another for having sex outside of marriage and hardly any characters seem to refrain from the opportunity of having sex outside of marriage.

“Then that’s it!” Neely screamed. “She’s just using you to get Gino.” “That’s not true. She was warm and friendly even before I arranged the date. She had me up to her apartment —” Neely grinned. “Maybe the old war horse is turning queer in her old age.” “Neely!” “It happens. Listen, some of those big stars — especially broads like Helen who like sex — they get so fed up with the cold shoulder from men that they turn to women for their, kicks. There was this faded movie star who played at a nightclub with us, and —” “Neely, Helen is absolutely normal!” Neely yawned. “Okay, I won’t fight you on that. She’s got too big a reputation for being man crazy. She’ll lay anything in pants. She’s always been known for that. That’s how she lost her first husband. He came home and found her doing it with a gangster she had gone with way back.”

“Who wants respect? I want to get laid!” Anne’s gasp was audible, but Helen went right on. “Look, angel, when you’ve been around as long as I have, you’ll know that’s the only way a guy shows you he’s hung on you.” “You can’t mean that, Helen. In fact it’s just the opposite.” “Opposite my ass! How else can he show it?” “By taking you out, spending time with you — having fun together.” “Are you kidding? In my book, if a guy digs you he wants to jump in the feathers with you. Even that bastard Red Ingram, my last husband — why, he leaped on me the first night we met. After we got married he slowed up a little, to maybe three, four times a week. Then it got to once a month, then nothing. That’s when I put detectives on him and found he was cheating on me.”

Are there practical reasons to have sex outside of marriage?

“How can you be cold in that coat?” He looked meaningfully at the new beaver [the beautiful 25-year-old] was wearing. She patted it affectionately. “You were an angel to give it to me. It’s really warmer than my mink. But I’ve got to get some sleep.” “Let me come up with you,” he begged. “You were with me last night, Robby.”

She got undressed, dropping her clothes carelessly on the chair. Maybe she would let Robby stay tomorrow night. She could do with a new evening gown. She wrinkled her nose. He was so unattractive and he breathed so hard. But she needed some clothes, and men who looked like Robby were always generous. They had to be.

She stroked the beaver coat — one night with Robby. That’s what a great body was for, to get things you wanted.

Can one get paid for dating and being engaged?

“… Any time you put up with a man’s company when you can’t stand him you should have something to show for it. Sell it.” [advising her chaste friend not to return an engagement ring worth years of salary]

Gay men are referred to throughout the book in terms that would be politically incorrect today, but homosexuality per se is not condemned. A relationship between two women just out of high school:

They became lovers the first night. Although Jennifer had been startled at the proposal, she felt no revulsion; in fact, she was even a little curious. Maria was still the exalted school-girl heroine. And Maria’s logical explanation removed any taint of abnormality. “We like one another. I want to make you know about sex, to feel thrilling climaxes — not let you learn about it by being mauled by some brutal man. We are doing nothing wrong. We are not Lesbians like those awful freaks who cut their hair and wear mannish clothes. We are two women who adore one another and who know about being gentle and affectionate.”

Jennifer remained in Spain over a year. She met many eligible men. A few were passable, but Maria kept a hawklike watch on all her activities. They were always chaperoned by one of Maria’s aunts. Maria repelled all advances and saw to it that Jennifer made no progress. Jennifer grew desperate. Maria’s possessiveness was stifling. For the first time she understood her mother’s fear of poverty. Money bought freedom; without it one could never be free. In Spain she could live luxuriously and wear beautiful clothes, but she belonged to Maria. If she returned to Cleveland she faced a different kind of imprisonment — marriage to some third-rate man who would also demand the use of her body. Whichever way you looked at it, without money you were someone’s captive.

More: Read Valley of the Dolls

 

Kona tourism tips

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Don’t expect Caribbean-style clear blue skies when you’re next to an active volcano. For my entire six-night stay the air was hazy and tinged with brown and people had slightly irritated throats from the vog. My host noted that there was an organic farm right next to the volcano: “do they wash out the sulphur and bits of glass that come out of the volcano before they sell you your organic lettuce?” A woman who has lived here for a few years said that she always woke up with a metallic taste in her mouth (as did I) while her husband, a longer-term resident, said that he was immune to the vog.

The smoothest coffee that we found was pre-ground medium roast from Kona Cafe, available at Long’s Drug.

Best tourist experiences:

  • looking at the flowing red lava in the crater after sunset from the Jaggar Museum
  • morning snorkel trip to Kealakekua Bay on the Fair Wind. We saw the following from the boat: manta ray, humpback whales, spinner dolphins. We saw the following while in the water: moray eels, shark, lots of great fish. The ride was smooth despite 25-foot waves pounding the Hilo side. I would recommend doing the morning cruise due to the fact that winds can pick up in the afternoon. Very friendly and helpful staff. They provide breakfast and lunch, but it is heavily Costco-based.
  • Taishoji Taiko performing at the Waimea cherry blossom festival (early February each year)
  • malasadas at the Punalu’u Bakery.
  • Kīlauea Iki Trail in the national park

And of course don’t forget to take a flying lesson at Mauna Loa Helicopters!

Maybe skip:

  • Four Seasons Hualalai. Somewhat boring landscaping (my hosts’ condo complex had a lot more color). The beach is nowhere near as nice as the Mauna Kea‘s (the local architects said that the Mauna Kea is their favorite hotel in terms of design). The restaurant had a beautiful waterfront location and great service but some weak spots, e.g., you have to ask for bread to go with your $30 salad. Then it takes forever to show up because it is purportedly “cooked to order.” Then when it does show up your friend says “this is like day-old pita.” Then you get the bill and find that you were charged $5 for the day-old pita. The bread at Volcano House was 50X better, arrived without being requested, and did not show up on the bill. (We did enjoy dinner at the Volcano House!)
  • the local wine. We opened a bottle of Volcano Red that was fizzy. We brought a sparkling Maui pineapple wine to a dinner party. Taste summary: like mixing Super Unleaded with pineapple juice plus a splash of Drano.

Related:

Valley of the Dolls: Cost of Living in Manhattan

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Valley of the Dolls describes events starting in 1945. What could a Manhattan resident expect to pay and earn back then?

“I can start you at seventy-five a week — how does that set with you?” It was more than she had expected. Her room cost eighteen, food about fifteen. She told him she could manage quite well.

In other words, rent for a room in a shared apartment was 24 percent of income for a fresh-out-of-college assistant. Note that food is nearly as expensive as rent. She would earn $3,900 per year, $52,000 in today’s mini-dollars.

How about a semi-swank one-bedroom apartment in a city crammed with people returning from World War II?

“Anne will come up with something,” Henry insisted. “Try for the East Side. Living room, bedroom, bath and kitchen, furnished, around a hundred and fifty a month. Go to one-seventy-five if you have to. Start in right away, this afternoon. Take tomorrow off, take as long as you need . . . but don’t come back until you have the apartment.”

The BLS CPI calculation says that $175 in 1945 is comparable to $2,333 today.

A rich person is described in the book as a “millionaire”.

Oprah as inspiration for giving up

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A friend in his 50s who is fit but has a few extra pounds: “Oprah is a billionaire. She can afford the best chefs, the best trainers, the best gym. I figure if she can’t lose weight then I shouldn’t even try.”

Valley of the Dolls: Marriage

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Valley of the Dolls describes events taking place between about 1945 and 1965. and was published in 1966. How did the characters think about marriage?

On dating in New York City:

Anne smiled. “Lawrenceville. It’s at the start of the Cape, about an hour from Boston by train. And if I had wanted a husband I could have stayed right there. In Lawrenceville everyone gets married as soon as they get out of school. I’d like to work for a while first.” “And you left such a place? Here everyone is looking for a husband. Including me! Maybe you could send me to this Lawrenceville with a letter of introduction.” “You mean you’d marry just anyone?” Anne was curious. “Not anyone. Just anyone who’d give me a nice beaver coat, a part-time maid, and let me sleep till noon each day. The fellows I know not only expect me to keep my job, but at the same time I should look like Carole Landis in a negligee while I whip up a few gourmet dishes.” When Anne laughed the girl said, “All right, you’ll see. Wait till you get involved with some of the Romeos in this town. I bet you rush for the fastest train back to Lawrenceville. And on the way, don’t forget to stop by and take me with you.”

New England perspective on the basis of marriage:

“Anne, you are raising your voice,” her mother said calmly. “Willie Henderson is a fine boy. I went to school with his daddy and his mother.” “But I don’t love him, Mama.” “No man can be loved.” This from Aunt Amy. “But Mama, didn’t you ever really love Daddy? I mean, when a man you love takes you in his arms and kisses you, it should be wonderful, shouldn’t it? Wasn’t it ever wonderful with Daddy?” “Anne! How dare you ask your mother such a thing!” said Aunt Amy. “Unfortunately, kissing isn’t all a man expects after marriage,” her mother said stiffly.

“I don’t love Willie Henderson, Mama!” “There is no such thing as love, the way you talk about it. You’ll only find that kind of love in cheap movies and novels. Love is companionship, having friends in common, the same interests. Sex is the connotation you’re placing on love, and let me tell you, young lady, that if and when it does exist, it dies very quickly after marriage — or as soon as the girl learns what it’s all about.

Were women back then attracted to the rich real estate developer son of a rich New York City real estate developer?

Of course, his father, Gino, started the empire. They own half the real estate in this town. They’re rumored to be partners with those millionaire Greek shipping tycoons. Time magazine did a piece on Gino a few years ago. Maybe I can dig up a back copy in the library for you. They said his wealth couldn’t even be estimated. They ran Allen’s picture, too. Sole heir to the entire empire. You can imagine what an ad this was for the pair of them. Ever since, they’ve needed elephant guns to keep the girls away. … “Oh, he’s smoother than glass — but I think he’s as tough as his father underneath. He’s put over some pretty shrewd deals on his own. Managed to stay out of the Army by buying some plant that made parachutes, I believe.”

Was money a sensible basis for marriage? Here’s a 17-year-old’s perspective:

“Anne! You’ve made it!” “But Neely — I don’t love Allen!” “With all that money it will be easy to learn,” Neely insisted. “But I don’t want to get married, or give up my job. I’m on my own for the first time, and I’m not ready to give it up. I’ve only had two months of freedom —” “Freedom! You call this freedom?” Neely shrieked. “Living in a hall bedroom, getting up at seven and rushing to the office, eating lunch at the drugstore, maybe tagging along to ‘21’ once in a while with Bellamy and some client and freezing in that black silk coat? You want to stay free for this kind of gloriousness? Tomorrow is November first. Wait until January and February. Boy, it’s gorgeous in New York in February! Nothing but black slush. And that one little stinking radiator in your room is gonna seem like a matchstick. What are you giving up? Just tell me!”

“But it’s happened!” Neely hollered. “Only you hit the jackpot right away. Are you angry because you didn’t have to slave away for years, wear six-dollar shoes and bargain-basement clothes? Anne, if you blow this it won’t happen again. Do you think when you’re bored playing secretary another millionaire will suddenly appear on the scene and say, ‘Okay, Anne, time to get married’? Ha!” “I’m not especially looking for someone rich. That’s not important.” Neely sneered. “You’ve never been poor.” “Neely . . . let me put it this way. You’re thrilled because you’ve landed Hit the Sky. Suppose after a few weeks of rehearsal someone like Allen came into your life and asked you to marry him and chuck the show before it even opened. Would you?” “Would I? But so fast it’d make your head spin. Look, let’s say I have real talent. And let’s say someday I get a chance to prove it. If I work real hard for years, what will I wind up with? Money, position and respect. That’s it. That’s all there is. And it could take me years of hard work to get that. Allen is handing you the works on a silver platter.” Anne couldn’t believe her ears. Neely with the scrubbed face, looking younger than her seventeen years, pinning everything down so cynically.

What says the ancient-by-the-standards-of-the-novel boss (he’s early 50s)?

“Henry, I told Allen I didn’t love him. I told his father the same thing.” “You told them that?” He sounded incredulous. “Yes. Both of them.” “And what did they say?” “That’s what’s so unbelievable. I’ve never known people like them. They seem to ignore anything they don’t want to hear. Allen keeps saying he loves me — and that I’ll learn to love him.” “That can happen,” Henry said quietly. “Sometimes it’s the best kind of love. Being loved.”

A mother’s advice to her 25-year-old daughter:

“Look, you’re lucky — you have a gorgeous face and the kind of body men go for . . . though your kind of figure doesn’t last. … All right. Are you watching your weight?”

“I’m very thin, Mother. . . .”

“I know, but don’t gain and lose. That’s the worst thing for your breasts. Big breasts like yours are going to drop soon enough, and then they’ll be an eyesore. Make them pay while you have them. Men are animals — they seem to like them.”

What is the actual experience of marriage?

Helen’s eyes widened. “You read those books? Know something? I never read a book in my life.” “Now you’re teasing me,” Anne insisted. “Nope. When I work in a show, I work hard. After the show, if I’m lucky I have a date. If not, I come home from the show alone. And by the time I take a bath and read the trade papers and the columns, I’m ready to pop off. I sleep till noon, read the afternoon papers, go through my mail, get on the horn with my friends . . . by that time I’m ready for dinner. I never go out for dinner when I’m doing a show and I never have a drink till after the show. But after the show I like to hoot. Oh, yeah . . . I almost read a book during my last marriage. That’s when I knew it was going sour. …”

More: Read Valley of the Dolls

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