7
The Vogue
Years

A woman, to make a success in the fashion world, should have one qualification above all others. She should have trained and distinguished taste.

—Edna Woolman Chase

As the Depression continued, Millicent found herself an unemployed single mother. She had a fixed income and a fouryear-old daughter and one-year-old son to support. Hugh not only deserted his wife of six years and their young children, but unbeknownst to his wife he also left behind a mounting pile of debt. When he went to Europe, it caused alarm among individuals to whom he owed money. Thinking Hugh had skipped town, debt collectors inundated Millicent with his unpaid balances. Although caught off guard, Millicent didn't get a lawyer. “That never occurred to me,” she said. “Maybe that helped too, because they realized that they were not going to be opposed or anything fancy.” Setting aside money each week, Millicent slowly paid her husband's debts. Cousin Mary advised her to only pay the locals. “I told her she should pay the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, but not his New York debts—Giovanni and Club 21.” 1

Hugh's accumulated debts were “a terrible discovery,” said Millicent. “[On] Friday nights this man called Bill Boyd who was a processor in Somerville used to bring another bill. And finally he said to me, ‘You know I can hardly stand this, Mrs. Fenwick,' and I said, ‘Well, neither can I.’” Ultimately, by allotting $10 a month for some debts, and $20 for others, she managed to pay Hugh's creditors. “It really didn't amount to so much—a couple of thousand dollars, but at the time it seemed so huge.” 2 And indeed it was huge. The average annual income in 1938, the year Hugh left, was only $1,293. 3

-75-

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Millicent Fenwick: Her Way
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgements xiii
  • Millicent Fenwick *
  • 1 - A Gilded Past 1
  • 2 - Battle Cry 16
  • 3 - A Blended Family 26
  • 4 - Building Character 37
  • 5 - Ambassador's Daughter 45
  • 6 - Love, Scandal, Marriage 60
  • 7 - The Vogue Years 75
  • 8 - Retreating to the Country 99
  • 9 - Outhouse Millie 116
  • 10 - A Geriatric Triumph 134
  • 11 - The Conscience of Congress 147
  • 12 - Pursuing Human Rights 162
  • 13 - Lacey Davenport 184
  • 14 - Seeking the Senate 196
  • 15 - A Little Bit Useful 213
  • 16 - My Way 223
  • Notes 239
  • Selected Bibliography 263
  • Index 271
  • About the Author *
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