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Posts Tagged ‘Charm School’

Charmed, I’m Sure

January 8, 2014 | by

Grace-Downs-Charm-School

Contestants for Miss New York City at the Grace Downs Airline Hostess School in New York, 1960. Library of Congress.

While visiting my parents over the holidays, I spent a few hours looking over my dad’s extensive magazine archive. He happened to have a copy of the first-ever 1963 New York magazine, Clay Felker’s then Sunday-magazine supplement to the New York Herald Tribune. The articles, by Tom Wolfe, Barbara Goldsmith, and Jimmy Breslin, among others, were fascinating enough. But the thing that captured my imagination was the classifieds section—and one classified in particular. Nestled among the ads for military schools, summer camps, and tutors was the following:

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I was torn between natural horror—was this some kind of coded reprogramming for “tom-boys”?—and envy for the awkward girls who’d spent three months on said manor and returned to school in September not merely poised, slim, and well groomed, but also proficient equestriennes. One can easily imagine wistful mothers trembling on the brink of the 1960s feeling exactly the same way. Read More »

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