1.14.2011

The beginning and end of my modeling career

My mother was a born and bred New Yorker, and her parents, Belle & Morris, lived in The City all their lives. When I was growing up we visited about once a year. It was great fun. Mom & Dad would leave me with my grandparents and head off to see a show, take in the latest exhibit at Moma or The Met and visit old friends.
For me New York was all about Central Park, The Planetarium, The Natural History Museum (right up the street from Grandma's apartment on 79th Street). The Circus, bagels and lox, tapioca pudding from Horn & Hardart, corned beef, pickled herring and visiting Grandma's friends and relatives. It was an adventure.
oops...correction: actually October 1963
And of course we always went shopping for new clothes. In the summer of 1968 I was in the children's department at Lord & Taylor on 5th Avenue trying on dresses with my mom and grandmother. Suddenly a couple of ladies approached Mom and asked her whether she'd be willing to let her little girl pose for a photo session modeling some clothes for an hour or so. (If that happened today, surely you'd think it was some sort of scam and immediately call for store security.) Grandma and Mom were excited.
"Sure" they said. "Take her away! See ya later, Suze!"
Well, that was weird. But OK....
So I followed this lady down into the back hallways of the store where I met what I thought was a beautiful model wearing way more eye liner than my mother had ever owned in her lifetime. They put me in this too small raincoat that I remember thinking was so expensive, I'd never be allowed to own it...(besides the fact that in my family you always bought coats on the humongous side to allow for growth) I was led to a courtyard patio where women having lunch at the store luncheonette were watching us out the windows. I was told to observe the pretty model lady and just sort of do what she did. I am fairly certain I was chosen for this gig because I was wearing my shiny new Mary Janes with those goofy little white socks. (The kind that always got stretched out and crept down into your shoes when you walked.)
After about an hour of this posing and standing around, I was returned to Mom and Grandma, and we went about our day. A few weeks later a $15 check arrived in the mail. ("Man, what a cake job!," I thought.)
Then Grandma sent us a pile of clippings from the New York Times style section. Ah, my fifteen minutes of fame. No one was more excited than my New Yorker mother.
For a bit I was convinced that a modeling career was in my future. Then reality hit when I realized I had knock knees, a rather prominent nose and would never grow taller than 5 foot 2 and three quarters. Ah well. It was fun while it lasted.
Just remember girls, whenever you go shopping in The Big City, be sure to wear clean socks and your best Mary Janes. You never know when you might be "discovered".





6 comments:

Julie said...

Love this story Susan. I also like the photo/ad picture as well as the one of your mom in the car.

Gaynor Mann said...

Youre such an over-achiever! :D Two good blogs in two days! You go girl! :D

betsy bensen said...

delightful, really cheered me up!

MmeMagpie said...

I always knew Mary Janes were the right choice. I always have at least one pair on hand.

SilverBlueberry said...

This is great, and you were adorable! I will try to remember your advice and bring my mary janes next time I visit NYC :)

Margie said...

Absolutely adorable! Hope all is well in my home town :)

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