Read about Kenneth in an excerpt from A Very Good Life



Kenneth – the salon of Kenneth Battelle, “the first celebrity hairdresser,” who gave Jacqueline Kennedy her tousled bouffant, was located at 19 East 54th Street. The 17,000-square-foot Renaissance Revival townhouse was redesigned as a salon by Billy Baldwin and opened March 4, 1963.

<img src= "hair salon.jpg" alt= "drawing of elegant hair salon with ferns and red sofa">

Kenneth the New York hair salon

An excerpt from Dana’s visit to Kenneth in A Very Good Life. Available on AMAZON


                                 Chapter Twenty-Three


Dana decided that in order to retain her ability to focus on her job at B. Altman—indeed to keep her sanity after being humiliated by Janice Conlon—she needed to get through the rest of the day without deviating from her schedule. She had an afternoon appointment with her hairdresser at Kenneth’s, the 1897 Renaissance Revival townhouse at 19 East 54th Street that had been redesigned as a salon by Billy Baldwin. At the request of Kenneth, the lavish décor was inspired by the Brighton Pavilion, and five hundred yards of paisley and nine hundred yards of Indian jungle flower cotton in circus shades of red and yellow were draped in such a fashion so as to create a fantasy palace.

As much as she enjoyed being pampered, Dana was in no mood for such luxury after leaving Mary Elizabeth’s. Janice’s bizarre words echoed in her mind again and again. The woman was impertinent, and her totally unexpected public tolerance of prostitution had managed to sabotage an issue that was important to the Murray Hill Neighborhood Association. But the failure of the meeting was now the least of Dana’s worries. The idea of Brett purchasing a wardrobe for someone was bad enough, but that he had done so for the brash and tawdry Janice was something that made Dana’s mind reel. And then there was the matter of the wine journals. Janice had no more business being with Brett to pick up the gifts Dana had selected than she did attending the neighborhood association meeting. Their client had offices at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, not at Mrs. John L. Strong.

Dana entered Kenneth’s and was escorted to the chair at the station of Mr. Gino, her personal stylist. Mr. Gino was talking animatedly to Dana about what she wished to be done on this particular visit, but Dana didn’t hear a word. She was rehearsing the questions she would ask Brett later in the day. He was good at thinking on his feet after years of standing in open court and handling unanticipated situations, and she wondered what answers he would tender when confronted with the information she had learned from Janice at Mary Elizabeth’s. The one glimmer of hope that Dana entertained was that it made no sense for Brett to send a woman to the meeting who could offer compromising information on his recent activities. Why would he intentionally incriminate himself?

Perhaps the woman was just abrasive, and Brett would have a perfectly legitimate explanation for his activities on Saturday. For that matter, Janice Conlon might not even be telling the truth. Her histrionic manner and unwillingness to help with the petition had made it clear that she was not someone to be trusted. Dana’s impulse was to pick up the phone immediately, call Brett and clear the air for good or ill, but she wanted to confront her husband face to face. People’s body language sometimes said far more than the spoken word. If Brett flinched the smallest bit when Dana requested an explanation, she would know that something was amiss.

Until the opportunity presented itself, however, Dana decided to relax in Kenneth’s peaceful sanctum while she reveled in Monday’s triumph at B. Altman. There was going to be a teen makeup section, and Helen wasn’t going to be able to block it, regardless of her adamant opposition to the concept on Friday. The air would be chilly for the foreseeable future when the two women encountered each other, but Helen would eventually come around. She might even end up, at some point in the future, speaking of what a wonderfully creative move it had been for the cosmetic section to incorporate a teen makeup counter so as to be seen favorably by Ira and Dawn. Dana knew that everyone was capable of using revisionist history to their own advantage.

Dana was finally beginning to tune into Mr. Gino’s words when the receptionist approached his station and handed her a slip of paper torn from a message pad. Dana read the words and turned to her hairdresser. “Sorry, Mr. Gino, but I have to run back to work. I’ll need to reschedule.”

<img src= "hair salon.jpg" alt= "dark elegant room with chairs and tables for hairdressers and round red sofa in the middle of room ">
Kenneth Hair Salon

Dana was out on the street in a matter of minutes. Kim Sullivan’s rack of clothing had been sprayed with water from a pipe being repaired in an adjacent dressing area. Dana would need to make another selection of clothing for the contestant. Before leaving Kenneth’s, Dana had called the Sullivan’s residence and asked the housekeeper to rush Kim to her office for another fitting as soon as she was out of school.

As Dana taxied back to the store, she mentally rehearsed everything that needed to be done before the luncheon. For the moment, her thoughts were no longer on Concolor Christmas trees, the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, wine journals, or Janice Conlon. There was a contest to run, and she was going to see it done correctly—and fairly.

<img src= "man and woman.jpg" alt= "Jackie Kennedy in pink gown with a man in white suit">
Mr. Kenneth and Jackie
<img src= "woman and hairdresser.jpg" alt= "Marilyn Monroe with hairdresser Mr. Kenneth in business suit ">
Marilyn Monroe and hairdresser Mr. Kenneth


Sniffen Court

Sniffen CourtSniffen Court, a flagstone-paved alley consisting of ten brick stables built in the 1850s, is located in the Murray Hill Historic District on 36th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues. Originally commissioned by local builder John Sniffen, the quaint buildings in the early Romanesque Revival style, were converted to private townhouses in the 1920s, with a studio on the south end and The Amateur Comedy Club on the north end. The private courtyard is gated and locked providing a peaceful and charming oasis in mid-town Manhattan.

In What Might Have Been, Book 2 in the Dana McGarry Series, Dana lives in a coach house in Murray Hill.

Available on AMAZON




Estee Lauder

Estee in dept store

Estee Lauder was born Josephine Esther Mentzer in Corona, Queens. Growing up, she was more interested in her uncle’s work as a chemist than her family’s hardware store. She named one of her uncle’s chemical blends Super Rich All-Purpose Cream and sold it to friends. Her uncle, Dr. John Schotz, also made other products, such as Dr. Schotz’s Viennese Cream, which she sold to beauty salons, beach clubs and resorts. Founding the Estee Lauder Company in 1946, she later introduced the enormously popular bath oil and fragrance known as Youth Dew, and the first allergy tested, dermatologist-created cosmetic brand, Clinique. A perfectionist, Lauder kept a watchful eye on every aspect of her luxury brand, choosing pale turquoise for the packaging because it looked good in any color bathroom. Her instincts for promotion and marketing were just as keen, introducing the successful concept of “gift with purchase.” One of her most famous quotations was, “If I believe in something, I sell it, and sell it hard.”

The Dana McGarry Series by Lynn Steward

Murray Hill

In 1753, Robert Murray, who owned an importing business and Murray’s Wharf on lower Wall Street, and his wife, Mary Lindley Murray, purchased a tract of land for a country estate from what is now Madison Avenue east to Lexington Avenue and from 33rd to 39th Streets. After their deaths, the land was purchased by Robert’s younger brother, John, who divided the lots equally among his children. In 1847, the eleven descendants of John Murray registered with the City Surveyor what became known as the Murray Hill Restriction, banning the use of land for commercial real estate development, with the exception of churches and the private stables and carriage houses located between Lexington and Third Avenues.

Row of Brownstones,NYC.

This restriction assured a private and exclusive neighborhood and appealed to some of the city’s wealthiest families, including Mrs. Astor whose mansion was on the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street. The Murray Hill Restriction, however, did not apply to the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, offering Benjamin Altman in the opportunity to build his dream of the finest and largest New York department store. In deference to the exclusive enclave, Mr. Altman had the building designed to replicate a Florentine palace and when it opened in 1906, his business name did not appear on the outside of the building, and it remained that way until the 1950s.