Iowa Alumni Magazine | December 2007 | Reviews

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Jacobson Hart

By Tina Owen

Do you remember the best summer of your life? So asks Marjorie Hart in the preface to her book that lovingly retraces a stand-out summer in New York City for two innocent Iowa girls.

For Hart and her best friend, Martha "Marty" Garrett Jackson [47BSC, deceased], the summer of 1945 was mesmerizing, glamorous, a dream-come-true. It gleamed with an unforgettable luster, much like the movie stars who glided through the city's famous Tiffany jewelry store, dripping with diamonds and effortless style.

Eager to find summer work in the big city, Hart and Garrett had managed to gain employment at the famous store. The first women ever to work on Tiffany's sales floor, they gazed wide-eyed at celebrity customers like Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich.

By day, they scraped together nickels for the subway and lived on Nestle's chocolate milk and stale deli sandwiches; by night, they sipped champagne in ritzy nightclubs and attended Broadway shows in the company of dashing servicemen.

A dark shadow loomed over these bright months, though. Even New York City's magic couldn't protect the Iowa girls from the reality and tragedy of World War II. Hart writes movingly of the loss of a cousin and other "boys we'd watched on the football field, the basketball court, and swimming at Lake Comar."

A few months later, Hart joined the ecstatic crowd that filled Times Square to celebrate the official announcement of the Japanese surrender. "No one was a stranger in that crowd," she remembers. "We'd read Ernie Pyle's columns, planted victory gardens, written V mails, sent care packages, gathered phonograph records for the USO, given up nylons for parachutes, saved bacon grease for explosives, and turned in tin foil, saved from gum wrappers, for ammunition. Most of all, we'd prayed that our loved ones would be safe."

The war was finally over — and so was the girls' remarkable summer. More than 60 years later, though, the memories sparkle like diamonds wrapped up in an aqua-blue Tiffany box.