Luring a Sucker -- er, Scholar, to the Village
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January 10, 1963, Vol. VIII, No. 12
The Greenwich Village Scholarship
By John Wilcock
Letters from girls as far away as Eugene, Oregon, and Valparaiso, Indiana, brought applications for the Greenwich Village Scholarship -- a weekend in the Village as guest of this column. But the winner, a unanimous choice of judges Art D'Lugoff of the Village Gate and Ted Wilentz of the Eighth Street Book Shop, was twenty-year-old Amy Stone of Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania. And, just after Christmas, Amy came to the Village.
The night she arrived I gave a large party which had been organized partly for her benefit, partly because the importers of Guinness (Heublein, Inc.) had promised free Guinness (mix it with beer, and it makes a great drink called "black and tan"), but mainly because I wanted to get everybody together for Christmas. More than 300 guests filled the lower east side loft borrowed from John Viccaro, and Amy seemed to be meeting most of them.
She was, of course, something of a celebrity, because John Putnam, Mad magazine's art director, had hand-drawn an enormous poster bearing her picture and the details of her visit, and everybody who saw it promptly went in search of her.
An amiable, pretty girl, she seemed constantly to be charming circles to which she was talking, and I learned later that she'd met up with several Swarthmore alumni in addition to the assorted disc jockeys, musicians, novelists, and actresses who were floating about.
The following night there were more parties -- three of them -- and then a visit to the Village Gate, where she was welcomed by genial Art D'Lugoff, at whose table she met Larry Adler and Herbie Mann. Adler, hearing details of the scholarship, referred to it as "sort of an Emptybright," and Herbie Mann brought over a sample of his invention, the Bossa Nova, whose potent ingredients include pernod, kahlua, and vodka.
Each of the nights ran so late that the days were spent in sleeping, although we did get time on the last day to visit "the $10 fur coat place" (as the Ridge Trading Company warehouse at 55 Great Jones Street is known) where so many Villagers have equipped themselves for the winter. The warehouse is filled from floor to ceiling with racks of every imaginable type of fur from rabbit to buffalo -- all at about $10-$30 -- and Amy was as awed by this sight as countless visitors before her...
Amy, safely back in the protective environs of Swarthmore, writes: "I'd always been sophisticated and enlightened enough to assume that the myth and folklore of the Village were strictly the creation of the Village equivalent of Madison Avenue. The Great Revelation to me was that it's all true. People really do run around smoking weird things, leading surrealistic sex lives, and never venturing north of 14th Street except for a David Amram concert."
[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956. John Wilcock is still going strong at his website, Ojaiorange.com. And at Amazon, you can order his new autobiography, Manhattan Memories.]