Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Plaza Tale

I've heard from a number of people who remember the Tailored Woman store and its mercurial owner, Eugene K. Denton.  I received the following message a few months ago from Diana Pons, who gave me permission to share her story.

My father, Victor Pons, was the maitre d' of the Oak Room at The Plaza Hotel on 59th Street and Fifth Avenue, just steps from The Tailored Woman. I am writing a book about my father's years at The Plaza (1953-1973) and the many experiences he, and I, had there. I was trying to remember when The Tailored Woman closed. I just Googled the store's name and I found your web site!

My father's years at The Plaza reflect my life from age 6 to 26. Your great-great-granduncle (Eugene K. Denton) came often to the Oak Room. He liked my father very much, and my father liked him. When I was 18 (that would be 1965), I was looking for a summer job. My father asked him if he needed help in the store. He gave me a job for the summer in the accounting department on the top floor. At the end of the day, all the merchandise ticket stubs from sales were brought upstairs (there were four of us in my department). We'd spend the next day adding them up to make sure that they matched the amount of money taken in. I had other duties too, but that was the primary one.

I read on your web site that you never met your great-great-granduncle. He was a character, and I mean that only in the nicest way. He was a tough taskmaster and kept everyone in the store on their toes. When he would get upset if something wasn't done right, he would bluster and yell. His face would get so red that I thought he would explode! He was, however, never anything but courteous and kind to me. When I left at the end of the summer, he took me to lunch (not in the Oak Room - women were only allowed in for dinner and supper until 1973) and he gave me a gift of a lovely brooch from the store, befitting a young girl, which I still have. My father told me that he said that I was a "smart girl and an excellent employee who would do well in life." Especially at age 18, I was very honored by his compliment.

I did run into him once more in a restaurant on Madison Avenue. He recognized me first and came to my table to say hello. I was pleasantly surprised that he would remember me, considering all the people he must have met over many years. He left before I did, and when I asked for my check my waiter told me that it was paid, compliments of Mr. Denton.

I thought you might enjoy my story, and I am so glad that I found your web site and learned a little more about your family and the history of The Tailored Woman. It was a wonderful store owned by a man I have never forgotten.
Isn't that lovely?  And isn't it fortunate that I didn't inherit the Denton temper?  (No comments from the peanut gallery, please...)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Tailored Woman store, circa 1967

I received permission from the generous and talented Dave Hay to post this photo of the Tailored Woman store, taken as part of a series of photos of Midtown when Dave was newly-arrived in the city in 1967.  I love this shot of the corner of 57th and Fifth.  The building, which still houses Bergdorf Goodman, looks very much the same today.