Picture it, New York City 1981. A beautiful autumn evening in Central Park—the four of us paused to take photos after a grand dinner at Tavern on the Green.
Don Havens and I lived in the Alden at 225 Central Park West. Shirley flew in from Los Angeles for a visit and one of our clients, Walter Hess, owner of Rose Hill Flower Company on Third Avenue, invited the three of us for dinner. We all tried to dress like swells, but only Shirley actually nailed it.
She looked so extraordinary that the captain and waiters took notice, gave her all kinds of attention, and over dinner Walter asked her to accompany him to an opera at the Met. They made their opera date and then Shirley asked where some Upper West Side “straight bars” were.
Around midnight, after some photos, Shirley went out on the town on her own and Don and I went home, as did Walter.
Around 3 AM the phone rang. I answered.
Shirley, “I didn’t want you to worry. I’m having a great time.”
Me, “Where are you?”
Shirley, “I’m on the top floor of the Gulf+Western building. They own Paramount, you know.”
Shirley, “A couple of guys wanted to show me the view from Columbus Circle.”
Me, “The view?”
Shirley, “I’ll see you in the morning.”
True to her word, she strolled in around 5:30. For the next few days she looked a bit smug. Happy, but smug.
Our best girl—the gal from Waco, Texas—who we’d thought of as a bit of an innocent, a bit unworldly—was apparently, all grown up and completely in her element. Don and I never underestimated Shirley Ray again.