The New York Story
I went to New York for several reasons; I wanted to take some more art training at the Art Students League, study lithography with the Lithographic Technical Foundation, get into the Union and of course get a job whereby I could make a living and support the family in Fort Worth, who of course I left behind.
I first stayed at the Allerton Hotel on 41st Street just off Lexington Ave. for several weeks. Then I spent the first week just looking around and visiting the points of interest in the big city until I got so footsore and weary I had to get a job to rest up.
I went up to the Litho Technical Foundation office to interview the Secretary Mr. McDonald to see if he knew where I might get a job. He referred me to Bob Nelson one of the art directors of the U.S. Printing and Litho Co. on 16th St. He put me in his “stable” of artists at $2 per hour when there was a job for me. This was in the fall of 1937. Looking back that was not very much but at that I made more than most of the men. Because I was so versatile I kept busy nearly all of the time. I really enjoyed my work there very much and got a big kick out of working on national accounts.
I enrolled at the Art Students League I think three evenings a week, took a class in life drawing and also stone lithography – I had only worked on zinc prior to this. In addition to that I enrolled with the Technical Foundation’s camera class. I did not learn enough to do me much good for they were just starting out and their equipment was very poor. I also applied to join the Lithographer’s Union and was accepted as a letter artist. It cost me $45 to join and paid my dues a few months until I left the U.S. Printing Co.
It was a pretty tough life – me up in New York and Bertha and the family back in Fort Worth, but there seemed to be no other way out. But we both survived the winter which brings me up to the time I met Bob Lowdon in the spring.
Bob came up to New York and I met him at the Taft Hotel. In the meantime instead of keeping their promise, Ray Cooper had made his son his assistant- the job I was supposed to take and to add insult to injury he only offered me $70 per week to come back as an artist. I had left the family back in Fort Worth while I was in New York and I just had to see them so I took the job anyhow.
When I got back, though I could see it was an impossible situation. Charley Johnson was still there and so was Bill Baker. I figured I got such a lousy deal at Stafford-Lowdon that I wrote back to Bob Nelson at U.S. Printing and told him I’d like to come back and work for him again and he offered me $100 per week and $2.50 per hr. for overtime work. So after only a couple weeks back in Fort Worth, about long enough to get reacquainted with my family, I went back to New York again.
A 2015 picture of where Clarence
rented in New York.
This is when I rented the place on Irving Place near my work. It was a real large room in an old house and the landlady told me Washington Irving owned the place and the street in front was named after him, also the school across the street. It was really antique. Being just off Union Square which was where nearly all the crackpot speakers gave their talks and not far from Washington Square it was a very interesting locality.
Things went fine for a while but then another blow fell. They decided to disband their large art department and I was out again. I did some free-lance work for them and picked up a job helping a photo-retoucher on 37th Street; a fussy old curmudgeon, but a good craftsman and he taught me some tricks of the trade.
Since I kept in touch with Bob Nelson and expressed my desire for a better job he sent me up to the Lindsay Studio in the Daily News Building where I was hired at $2.50 per hour. This was just a block from where the United Nations is now located and practically across the street from the Chrysler skyscraper. In those days there were many good restaurants nearby and I could get good meals for sixty cents and admission to the Rockefeller Music Center was then only sixty cents. To be close to my work I got a room in an apartment on 57th Street, just off Times Square. Not a desirable room at all, the bed was terrible, but I had to live as cheaply as I could to support myself and the family in Fort Worth.
Prior to all this time as soon as I knew we’d not live in Fort Worth any more we put our house up for sale. We decided to sell most of our stuff in Fort Worth, only taking a few essentials, the largest of which was the piano I had bought in 1932 for $300, the one I still have. It taught us the relatively small value of second hand furniture, in those days they never had heard of garage sales.
Bertha had plenty of headaches trying to get things ready to move. Everything we did not want to move had to be sold or given away. To cap it all off, on the eve of the morning she was to move, Charles was playing with matches in the garage and set it afire without much damage to anything but Bertha’s harried nerves.
In the meantime I found a house in Jamaica, Long Island that I leased for $60 per month. We finally got moved to Jamaica but we had to wait a week to get the furniture we had purchased so we ate out of boxes and slept on the floor. We went down to Macy’s as soon as we could and bought the dining room furniture we still have, a refrigerator, and sofa and chair at Wanamaker’s. And we also bought the boys bedroom suite that we still use.
We were finally settled again and happy until I lost my job at U.S. Printing Co. As recounted before after leaving the U.S. Printing Co. I worked at Lindsay’s Studio. I specialized in color airbrush work and in a large studio like this one almost had to specialize. I was one of the four top artists and had my own cubicle. Did not have to work in the “bull pen” as it was called with the lesser artists.
It was a mistake maybe for me to quit there for I was making pretty good money for those days, $2.50 per hour with lots of overtime.
It was interesting, though, living in New York City. We took lots of short trips with the kids, went to a lot of shows, museums, and parks – the best thing in New York were free. We made good friends with Rev. Macklin and his family next door. Things were cheap, too, The Daily New York Times sold for two cents, the Sunday Times for five cents. It cost only five cents to go to town on the subway and if you knew the ropes, you could ride all day for five cents by transferring. We could drive our car to Manhattan in twenty minutes and had no trouble finding a parking place.