Schulenberg’s Page: New Year, New Mood

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January, 1976. The start of a new year and the realization that the Vietnam War was actually nearing an end. The public had become conditioned to the war and with the new year came the hope that life would take on a more positive aspect. One might say that the mood was not dissimilar to the 2021 mood of a new governmental administration.

In general, life in the city continued without seeming to change although there were fewer demonstrations.

Manhattan was war-weary.

Jane Oliver and Val Sherry invited me to their apartment for a small gathering of friends. During the evening I found myself talking to two interesting men, Ed and Charles.

Charles was telling me about his excitement of finally being able to buy a Ferrari. He said that he’d parked it on the street just before a tremendous snow fall. Upon going out the next morning, he found that a snowplow, mistaking the low slung car for a particularly large snow bank, had plowed it into an unrecognizable pile of mashed metal!

After the party and after everyone had left I stayed to help Jane and Val clean up. I told them Charles’ amusingly sad story and was told that “Charles” was New Yorker Addams Family cartoonist Charles Addams and that “Ed” was E.L. Doctorow, the writer of Ragtime!

The next day I was back to shopping for fabric for the fabric jewelry that Rick Mendez and I were making. And selling!

I learned that Bendel’s in its original location on 57th Street had a policy of seeing people with design projects on Fridays, a sort of open audition, and I decided to show my fabric jewelry.

Waiting in line with the others to see the creative director I noticed an older woman directly in front of me holding crocheted baby bonnets and while I thought they were nice — in a quaint baby bonnet kind of way — I couldn’t see how they related to the super-hip chic aura of Bendel’s!

I watched as finally the woman showed her bonnets and was surprised but impressed when the creative director admired them and gave her an order! But she wanted them in adult sizes and crocheted with metallic-colored thread. She was, in effect, the true designer!

When I showed her my jewelry she said that she’d seen Rick and me checking out fabrics at Far Eastern Fabrics and thought it would just be a matter of time before I showed up.

And she gave me an order!

A few evenings later Mary and I spent the evening with Tito Gerassi.

I was telling Mary and Tito about what we were experiencing while launching the fabric jewelry. The previous week it was suggested that we show some samples to the designer Mary McFadden, who was utilizing cording in her designs. We visited her studio in the evening after hours and found her actually knee deep in fabric and still busy working. She appreciated what we were doing but was too busy to be able to be very helpful. It was surprising to me that she was as hands-on and as frantic as we were since she’d had so much visible success!

I was doing a lot of running around looking for supplies and at the same time trying to meet as many helpful people as possible.

I took some time out to meet Carly Billings for lunch after which we visited Betty Smith, who was the wife of well known actor Kent Smith.

The first day of February I went to an event in Brooklyn at the Academy of Music.

And then home on the subway.

I was spending a lot of time on the subway!

My upstairs neighbor and good friend Eileen Brennan (not the actress) and I went to a Van Cliburn recital and then went to Charlie’s in the theater district. Eileen had wanted a theatrical career and should have had one but she’d gotten sidetracked into civil service work and that had finally stuck — as was she: stuck. But she was still involved if only as a very knowledgeable and appreciative audience member.

I’d been invited to do some accessories for the collection of designer Bill Haire which was encouraging and I hoped would lead to bigger and better opportunities.

I’d heard that a class in Kabbalah was being taught at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine and it piqued my interest in mystic subjects. I investigated it and even with all the things I had going on I signed up for it. Having taken Silva Mind Control and having been so fascinated with it, I thought this might amplify my experiences. The teacher called herself Ra’abia and informed us that she used that name as she was professionally a scientist; and while she worked to marry the physical with the metaphysical, she didn’t want the scientific community to draw attention to her metaphysical pursuits. In any event, it promised to be an interesting pursuit for me.

And such a contrast to my Seventh Avenue pursuits!

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