A Most Impressive Night in New York City

When she said she had accepted a job offer from Time Inc. at New York City headquarters, we gasped and clapped. She was graduating in June and was the first college graduate I knew, male or female, who already had a real job. And it was only mid-February.

I was Captions Editor of the Hawkeye Year Book. I had to work closely with her as Editor-in-Charge to make my smart words adhere to the space requirements as well as the obligatory tone. I squeezed in long hours over my class schedule as I had to caption over two thousand Kodak black and white 35 mm snap shots.

The company that printed the annual was adamant we follow their requirements to a “T.” This also included the time table to submit pages, photographs, letters from the Deans, President of the University not to mention all the sorority and fraternity pictures, sports reports plus multiple groups from the chess club on down, as well. In order for us to produce an annual to deliver two weeks prior to graduation they demanded tedious and an exact adherence to their time-line. Keep in mind this was before overnight mail, FedEx, fax machines and emails! We actually shipped page layouts by truck!

During the previous summer I had undertaken business travel for my father’s promotional advertising company to visit with sales agents in many cities. Consequently, it was not unusual for me to be away from home (I still lived with, my parents, of course) for a week or two at a time as I flew to a city, rented a car and planned my route the night before with a street map on the motel room floor. I dictated on a Dictaphone reports of the meetings and mailed them to my Dad’s office. One of the things I was required to learn during this time on the road was to adhere to expense account recording. I had something called a Diners Club card (it was actually a little booklet the size of a credit card with many pages listing establishments by city that accepted charges). To rent a car at the airport, however, I needed a corporate credit card called “Air Travel Card” which was the only card recognized by rent a car agencies back then. In a few states I had to show a notarized letter that I in fact represented the company and it was responsible for my debts – I was 19 years old at the time. My personal expenses besides hotel bills and auto rental was a tight $30.

Over the period of a few months working with the staff of the year book, I became attracted to the editor, an older woman, who was from a small Iowa farm town, while I was a “big city boy” from Waterloo with a population of over 68,000. We went places together as a group, but dating was not in the cards. I found it exciting and enlightening to be in her group, however.

As the year ended, we met all the dates demanded by the publisher, and the meetings and planning sessions ceased. I kept looking for excuses to be in the company of this senior woman, but during that period of time it became apparent my affections were unrequited. Not that she had other romances; she just was too focused on graduating. I found her to be prim and proper in a Midwest farmer’s daughter’s sort of way-but still attractive.

She had given me her Time Inc. contact phone number before graduating. About two months later I was scheduled to travel on the east coast for a trade show. I called her and asked her out for dinner. She sounded surprised but pleased and agreed. A few days later I called her and asked her if she would like to see a Broadway play, too. It turned out she hadn’t seen any shows nor was she dating. We quickly agreed on Two for the Seesaw starring Henry Fonda and Anne Bancroft. It was a hard ticket to get, but my Grandmother’s youngest brother was a man of position in the Broadway workers union and found me tickets well within my expense account; (he paid for them). We had a wonderful time at the play. After the play, I had made dinner reservation at Lindy’s, the famous Broadway restaurant. She was amused but impressed by the arrangements I outlined for our evening, as I had hoped.

At Lindy’s we saw a line of at least one hundred people waiting to get in. She said, “Maybe we ought to try someplace else; it looks like a long wait.” I asked her to save our place in line and let me see how long it will be. She stood quietly while I walked to the front. When I got there, the doorman looked me up and down but asked politely, “How can I help you, son?”

I told him my uncle had made a reservation for me, and said his name.

“Oh, yes, son, come on in. You aren’t alone are you?”

I said no and that my date was right there, pointing to the far end of the line. I turned and slowly walked past the long line to where my date stood.

“Too long, huh,” she said. “Lets try that one,” as she pointed to a restaurant across the street.

“Well,” I said, “just follow me,” and I grabbed her hand.

We walked past the long line and she kept saying “Where are we going?”

She cast her gaze downward with self-consciousness at being the center of attention as we walked to the front of the line. When we got there, the doorman said, “Here we go Mr. Cohn, right this way.”

She almost fainted as we walked through the door he held open for us.

We both glanced back at the crowded doorway and what she said was magic to my ears. “Wow, am I ever impressed.”

I had to admit that I was too.