change our future lifestyle. It was too risky to think about returning to my art career, or
lack of one. Any job I took had to bring in more money than I had to spend on salary for
The very next week, I read about a job possibility in the ‘employment wanted’ section
of the newspaper. Marcia Lehr, who had become well-known in Hollywood circles as the
premier wedding and party planner/designer, was looking for someone to help her with
the hand-addressing of hundreds of invitation envelopes. The location of her shop
immediately caught my attention. It was on Robertson Boulevard within biking distance
from my house.
I felt the first rush of adrenaline since giving birth to the twins and picked up the
phone. “Mother, another potential miracle just dropped into my lap. I saw a job
description in the want-ads of today’s paper and know it was written specifically for me.
It sounds like something I could do at home when the girls are asleep.” I read it to her and
asked if she could watch the girls once again while I went by the shop for an interview.
Mother agreed wholeheartedly and, while waiting for her, I searched through my
wardrobe for the most appropriate outfit. Not too dressy. Not too casual. Professional, but
Two hours later, I was seated next to Marcia as she showed me samples of addressed
party and wedding invitations. “I’m impressed with your art background, Carol. I believe
we could work together, but I don’t want you to think this work is easy. You say you’ve
never written in any form for calligraphy. It takes hours of practice to get it right, and I
am very particular about quality. I demand perfection, because my clients expect it of
“I’m willing to learn.”
“I can tell that you are, but ‘willing to’ and ‘can’ are worlds apart. Watch me. I usually
write in Spencerian Script. It was developed by a young man in the mid-19th century—
Platt Rogers Spencer. As you can see, it’s very elegant and has many loops and
flourishes.” She reached for an envelope and a pen that she dipped into a pot of black ink.
For the next several minutes, I watched every movement of the pen as she addressed a
sample envelope in a style of calligraphy. The capital letters swirled into works of art.
“May I take a few of your samples home with me?” I asked. “I have a good eye. I
think I can mimic your writing with a little practice. I’ll return first thing in the morning
to show you my work. I couldn’t ask you to hire me without first seeing if I have the
talent required.” I held back tears all the way home, both from elation over the prospect
of becoming a wage-earner again and from pure anxiety over whether I could learn the
difficult calligraphy technique in one night of practice. I wanted the position. I wanted to
work with Marcia Lehr.
As soon as Lisa and Jenny closed their eyes for the night, I tiptoed from their bedroom
and took a seat at my desk. Mrs. Lehr had given me a pen, two tips, a bottle of ink and a
plentiful supply of paper in various sizes and weights. She had also provided a chart
illustrating the capital and small letters and figures in the same script style for dates,
house and phone numbers. I propped it up in front of me and started to write copies of
each letter and then over and over again, until I was satisfied with the results. By that
time, I had also consumed at least a dozen chocolate chip cookies.
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