Download Big Bosses: A Working Girl’s Memoir of Jazz Age America by Althea McDowell Altemus,Robin F. Bachin PDF

By Althea McDowell Altemus,Robin F. Bachin

Sharp, ingenious, and with a mode all her personal, Althea Altemus embodied the spirit of the autonomous operating lady of the Jazz Age. In her memoir, Big Bosses, she vividly recounts her existence as a secretary for well-liked (but thinly disguised) employers in Chicago, Miami, and manhattan throughout the past due teenagers and Twenties. along her we rub elbows with motion picture stars, artists, and high-profile businessmen, and event lavish property events that sometimes defied the legislation of Prohibition.

Beginning together with her employment as a personal secretary to James Deering of foreign Harvester, whom she describes as “probably the world’s oldest and wealthiest bachelor playboy,” Altemus tells us a lot approximately excessive society in the course of the time, taking us within Deering’s glamorous Miami property, Vizcaya, an Italianate mansion worthwhile of Gatsby himself. Later, we meet her different awesome employers, together with Samuel Insull, president of Chicago Edison; ny banker S. W. Straus; and actual property developer Fred F. French. We cinch up our trenchcoats and head out sleuthing in Chicago, employed through the spouse of a large boss to determine how he spends his evenings (with, it seems, a mistress hidden in an house inside his workplace, no less). Altemus was once additionally a suffering unmarried mom, a truth she needed to maintain mystery from her employers, and he or she unearths the problems of being a operating girl on the time via glimpses into women’s residences, their friendships, and the dangers—sexual and otherwise—that she and others confronted. all through, Altemus entertains with a tart and self-aware voice that mixes the information of an insider with the wit and readability of somebody at the fringe.

Anchored by means of wide annotation and an afterword from historian Robin F. Bachin, which contextualizes Altemus’s narrative, Big Bosses offers a different peek contained in the pleasure, extravagances, and the demanding situations of being a operating lady roaring throughout the ’20s.

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