Goodbye FOLLIES; Hello Early Life

In my 20s, I had very big glasses and a rather plain (but my own) office at S&C Electric Company in Chicago. I was surrounded by engineers.

For the last month or so I was very busy attending rehearsals and writing blogs for the musical FOLLIES which ran six performances April 11-14. My first rehearsals involved 12 former Las Vegas showgirls. These “legendaries” were now grandmothers and great-grandmothers, but they were thrilled to be on stage again. They were all tall, slim, graceful and very nice. Their remembered poses during practice made me cry several times. How wonderful to relive a time in your 20s.

So I thought back. Would I want to relive my 20s? Maybe. Maybe not. I was thinner then, but in my 20s I was a new kid, the writer for the company magazine at S&C Electric Company in Chicago. I took a bus to work and sometimes a subway. I had grown up in a nice St. Louis suburb, so the bus and subway stations were places filled with new kinds of people, some nice, some…… it took me at least a year to get used to the travel.

At work I first used a manual typewriter. Only a year or so later, I was given an electric typewriter. If I made a mistake on either typewriter, I hoped the mistake had the same amount of letters as the original typing. I always had white-out to use for those mistakes. Otherwise I might have to start all over again. For some projects, I needed carbon copies. Correcting a mistake with carbon copies was a project.

The FOLLIES ladies won’t be jealous, but I once posed somewhat gracefully.

For my magazine copy to appear in columns, another employee, Paula Tortorice, had to take my approved copy, now typed in its own thin column, and retype it on a machine that gave real type. She would actually type each column twice so she would know, the second time, how many spaces to add to make the column justified. Mistakes again were a problem–for both of us. How nice when technology gave us the ability to type on an 8 1/2″ by 11″-inch paper and have the contents automatically change from typewriter type to print and fit into a column. And then the entire page could be designed on a computer and printed electronically.

Was I graceful in my 20s and had an audience willing to pay just to look at me? Absolutely not. I didn’t even wear makeup in those days. I was just young.

I had lots of hair back in my 20s. Here I am conferring with John R. Conrad, owner of S&C Electric Company and a great man, now deceased.

Yesterday I looked back at a bunch of pictures from my past and indeed I did find an early photo of me at my typewriter at work AND I found an early Girl Scout photo of me looking somewhat graceful. Was being a showgirl in my future and I didn’t know it? Probably not.

However the early photos and early copies of my Christmas letter show a very positive upbeat young woman who was busy enough to write two or more pages each Christmas. I also found my early articles, including a long article (in the company magazine) about my first trip to Las Vegas in 1971. At that time, fewer books were being written about Las Vegas and I had to talk with a well-known Las Vegas citizen, Florence Lee Jones Cahlan, to find out the town’s and the local utility’s history. At that time Las Vegas had 16 million visitors a year. Last year the number was 40.8 million.

Incidentally, my grandfather and uncle were professional photographers and my father was a great photographer as well. I have lots of photos–printed–not stored on the internet. I recommend printing pictures, because years can go by quickly and–you need that box of photos to remember yourself when.

In FOLLIES, we were lucky that so many photos were available of beautiful young girls in beautiful costumes. My own photos, a bit less glamorous, brought back fond memories as well.


3 responses on “Goodbye FOLLIES; Hello Early Life

  1. What a nice walk down memory lane! Yes, printed photos are still my preference; albums truly treasured. Have similar memories in mid-twenties at S&C Electric Company in another department. Manual typewriters, electric typewriters, on to computers! Our experiences are quite memorable. Can the later generations compare to ours?

  2. I loved this article as it brought back found memories of when I was much younger. It’s good to go back and at the same time look at the future. I remember seeing the follies at the Tropicana with my mother and two brothers. Good memories

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