The enclosed squib in the
NY Times evoked some fond memories.
In the summer of 1916 I was the office
boy in Curtis Brown – then in the World Tower building on West
40th Street. The staff consisted of a very portly Britisher named Mr.
Barmby, a secretary, and myself. The office was tiny. We received a great
many manuscripts – some from the London office.
My job was to tour
the Manhattan publishers every day delivering bundles of manuscripts
and picking up the rejections. I got to know the taste of most of the
publishers. Century and Harper got the good stuff and all book length
manuscripts and paid top dollar.
They printed Railroad Magazine and several
others. Street and Smith were down on 13th Street. There was also a firm
on the lower West Side that published a fashion magazine. I think they
also published Adventure Magazine. (Editor’s note: A bit of 1984
research shows that Adventure was published by the Butterick Publishing
Company, who also produced Delineator, Romance and Everybody’s).
Every night we shipped manuscripts to other publishers in the U.S.A.
by delivering them to the American Express office on 29th or 39th Street.
received a salary of $5.00 a week, but there were certain fringe benefits
that brought me another $3.00 a week. It wasn’t bad – considering
that all newspapers sold for one cent each, and a hotdog was three cents,
including sauerkraut and mustard. Around the corner on 7th Avenue the
Italian restaurants served a full course meal from soup to nuts, including
a bottle of wine, for seventy cents.
We received a lot of mail from British
possessions all over the world. Their postage stamps were colorful and
We did not enjoy all the blessings of today’s New York.
There were no radios, T.V., drugs, autos, airplanes, crime waves, or
I don’t know what the authors used for food and lodging
in those days – because their compensation was so miserable.
stories couldn’t be sold to anybody, even though they were peddled
all over the country.
Very truly yours,
Bernard J. Ferguson