Friday Front: The End of Retail Refinement

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The Brearley School Playground

It is only in the past few weeks that I have seen schoolgirls on the absurd platform that used to do full duty as the Brearley School playground. (Now there’s a fieldhouse, quite close to my house, that’s shared by a handful of Upper East Side “ladies’ seminaries”). I really thought that the thing had been taken out of use.  What with all the ambiguous netting underneath, the structure does have a desperate air.

For some reason, I always took the playground to be a square, but it’s not — it’s really long enough to make a field for games. Little girls’ games, anyway. Every time I glance up at the youngsters, though, what I see is “recess” – variations on hanging out. Except that “hanging out” isn’t something that little girls do, is it? They’re not quite so brachiopod-ish.

These girls, anyway, are on the inside track to the top of the tree, if I may be permitted a fearfully mixed metaphor. How many of them will still live in New York when they grow up. And where in New York? On the Upper East Side, like the majority of their parents? And where will they shop? Where will anybody shop?

The End of Retail Refinement.

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One Response to “Friday Front: The End of Retail Refinement”

  1. George says:

    My grandmother, my mother’s mother, was a divorcee in the late twenties, hers and the century’s as well, when she went from teaching school to working in the millinery department of King’s Department Store in Johnson City, Tennessee in order to keep her home which she won in the divorce settlement. By the mid thirties she had become head of the millinery department and during the war she became a buyer. She retired to San Francisco in the early sixties. Everything you say about the atmosphere of the “Age of Retail Refinement” rings true to me. Oh! What by the way would be brachiopod-ish, if not these girls, what then?

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