laurie's wild west

Happy Anniversary, Daisy

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I missed Daisy’s work anniversary that was a few days ago. On March 13, 1926 – 90 years ago – Daisy started to work at Street & Smith. She had answered a classified ad in the New York Times that may have been this one that appeared in the February 22 paper:

“YOUNG LADY, well educated, in publisher’s office; desirable environment and personnel; state age, experience, if any, and salary desired.”

Her first job at Street & Smith was working on LOVE STORY MAGAZINE’s advice column, “The Friend in Need.” Her beginning salary was $35 a week. Here’s a photo that may very have been taken during her first few years at Street & Smith.

And here’s a cover from an issue that may have included some of her first work for the magazine.

Daisy would later write a 26-page essay entitled “Dear Mrs. Browne,” an accounting of her time working on the column “The Friend in Need.” This is the first paragraph from the essay:

You ought to see my mail. You would think that I was a movie actress, a philanthropist, a millionaire or at least a murderer. Every morning the mail trucks back right up my door and throw quantities of letters off. Most of them are addressed in long hand and they are postmarked from every state in the Union; all the large cities and every hick town west of the water tower.

My desk, which is a roll top model of the vintage of 1890, is always covered with disorderly piles of the country’s worst and best examples and stationery. Carelessly opened letters with bits of gold or gayly flowered linings hanging out of the envelopes greet me the first thing in the morning. One corner of the room in which I sit is taken up by a large wooden packing box piled halfway to the ceiling with letters. Envelopes of every size and color repose therein; red ones and orange ones which fairly cry aloud for attention, small pale blue ones, playing square white ones, yellow ones and occasionally one with the black border.

I first made the acquaintance of this pile of letters years ago. It was in the summer time and the hot breeze coming in at the window stirred them restlessly. Every now and then a letter fluttered down from the pile and land in the center of the room with light. That seemed to me like you cry from an anguished heart, for these for lovelorn letters and I was new at the game of answering them. According to the name and address on the envelope, I was Mrs. Louise Winston Brown, in charge of the When You Need a Friend department of Love Affairs Magazine. Mrs. Brown wasn’t entirely mythical person, whose name had been selected for its euphony. But she was a perfect oracle of worldly wisdom and her name went on forever – only the users of the name change occasionally. I was the latest recruit to give up my true identity for that privilege and in return for it, I was getting $35 a week.

Probably because she was planning on getting the essay published and she didn’t want to get in trouble with her employer, the writer of the column (the name as it appeared in the magazine is Laura Alston Brown), the name of the column, and the name of the magazine were all changed.

As far as I know, the essay was never published. The original manuscript was discovered in her personal papers.

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