The Next Generation Goes to the Office: Part 2

Dear Michael,

My grandfather, Benjamin Sheft, had worked in Manhattan, too, in the accounting office he shared with his partner on East 42nd Street, right across from Grand Central Terminal.
My Uncle Leonard had worked in Manhattan, too, most recently on Third Avenue and 55th Street, at a law firm he shared with his partner.

Why, even my great-grandfather, my grandmother Sheft’s father, Isidore, had worked in Manhattan, as a tailor at Saks Fifth Avenue, on Fifth and 50th.
And of course I, too, had long worked in Manhattan. My first job, in 1976, was only a few blocks away, at a weekly community newspaper – also journalism! – on Park Avenue South and 17th Street.

I’ve also held jobs on 57th Street and Seven, and Sixth and 50th, and Lower Broadway near City Hall, and Third Avenue and 55th, and Eighth Avenue and 49th.
And now the receptionist here at Discover magazine ( knew your name. Someone came out from the back to lead me toward you. We passed offices and cubicles, all the editors and artists in front of computers, tweaking text and adjusting images for the magazine. We went down one aisle, then turned down another, until finally we approached the library.

And there you were at your desk. You looked up and smiled, proud and sheepish at the same time. Your smile said to me both that yes, this was a pretty big deal, but also no, this was no big deal at all.

I certainly saw it as a big deal, and I always will. You were the latest in the line of generations of family I knew working at a job in Manhattan (as Mom had, too, by the way, at several jobs, all within the Garment District, right around Seventh Avenue and 40th Street, from about 1970 to 1990).

There you sat, looking so smart and professional, so proud and sheepish, the library behind you, working on the magazine’s next issue. You said how the library was the only place with any room left for you. And I said, Hey, all you need is a desk and a computer and you’re good to go.
It was a glorious moment, a favorite moment for me, a proud moment. You were getting going out there in the world and I was lucky enough to be there to see it.

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