Fifty Years Ago—1971

Here I sit, pondering where my story fits. Where I fit. When I started this memoir, in 2010, the time-gap didn’t seem all that huge. Now 1971 feels like centuries ago, and without knowing what will happen even tomorrow, I wonder. Will I be able to finish this? Does the world need one one more coming-of-age-in-NYC story? Maybe not, but this feels like an organic way to fill my days at this strange time. Looking back at the path taken, because there really was no other.

It’s hard to believe that I was preparing my portfolio to apply to Parsons School of Design fifty years ago. I decided to share some of my earlier art and influences that led to my wanting to become a fashion designer/illustrator.

1971 – Harrisburg Art Exhibit
1970 – Ali MacGraw
1970 – Girl In Striped Dress
1970 – Al Hirschfeld – The New York Times
1968 – Franco Zefferelli’s “Romeo and Juliet” (used on an envelope sent from NYC, 1971)
1967 – Cher
My library card – 1965, Age 12
1966 – Conservative Mod

And, to enter “The Way-Back Machine”! . . .

And let’s not forget the influence of my mother. She’s the one who encouraged me with that very first ruffle.

*****

 In the beginning was a pink mushroom cloud. The obligatory childhood Crayola scribble of girlish self-expression on a sheet of construction paper documented the efforts of my three-year-old brain and eye and hand. Looking back, it was as if I were trying to mesh gears and get on with the business of growing up in the slipstream of postwar America. 

     And becoming a fashion artist.

     It all started, according to family folklore, with an appliance. To anyone (i.e., my “Mammaw”) who questioned the subject matter of my first recognizable creative masterpiece, my father (her son) would boom, “It’s an iron!” And then point to the other drawing on the paper that further emphasized my genius: a two-prong wall outlet. My iron had a dangling cord and plug—even then I knew the importance of detail and accessorizing properly. 

     Luckily for me, my mother put down the Sunbeam Steam/Dry as often as she could and picked up a graphite pencil, encouraging me to follow. My dad continued to beam his pride like a beacon, into my future. —Hell’s Kitchen and Couture Dreams 

copyright Sharon Watts

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