Louise Tallmer Begins ‘Voice Feminine’


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July 8, 1959, Vol. IV, No. 37

Voice Feminine

By Louise Tallmer

It’s pretty frightening to attempt a “Woman’s Column” for the peculiarly male “make-out” world of The Voice. I feel as if I’ve been thrust into a Joan Crawford character. But I can’t Charleston, and my shoulders aren’t quite that broad – so editor, please keep the hatchet boys (Feiffer, Manville, et al) away for a while.

Just to prove how humble this all is, today we visit the Nichol’s 5 & 10 on Sixth Avenue between 8th Street and Waverly Place. About once every three years I decide that it’s ridiculous to spend $1 for lipstick, and I trot off to the 5 & 10 for some that cost 69 cents. (I once saw a Village couple, two elegant young men, coming out of one of our dingier supermarkets loaded down with bargain groceries. They hailed a cab and away they went; the best of two worlds.)

I never did get that cheap lipstick at Nichol’s, but I spent about two hours rediscovering the excitement of shopping some place where I could actually afford to buy any item in the store — a thrill I never got in Lord & Taylor.

I started at the sewing-notions counter. Filled with all sorts of prosaic, every-day trivia that you simply can’t find in most other stores. Finally bought a button to replace one missing on a raincoat, seam-binding to put up some hems that have been waiting around since skirts first got shorter. I passed up as a needless extravagance (25 cents) a brush, rather like a pastry brush, put out by Singer. This to dust those hard-to-get places on your sewing machine!

Then to the housewares counter. I’ve always maintained that unless you can afford the virginal-looking stuff in Bonniers’, the 5 & 10 has the best-looking glasses around town. Just plain old glass glasses. Not the kind that do a strip tease as you fill them with water, not the kind had-blown by Mexican peasants, nor the kind painted or fire, or whatever they do, by rich women who’ve decided to express their inner selves. Just glasses that are easy to hold, look great filled with orange juice, a highball, or mouthwash. These, two for 25 cents.

…One more thing: just to make the browsing pleasanter, you’re allowed to smoke, something I wouldn’t expect in a store of this kind. Takes it out of the Horn & Hardart class. All in all, shopping here is fun. No one seems to think it odd that you just want to look. I must have spent a good hour examining and comparing lipstick shades, and it was just fine with the management and the sales clerk. It was a relief not to be treated like a potential shoplifter.

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]