If America had a heart, one might call it Brooklyn. This story is a small piece of that heart, told with verve by a young girl who dreams of becoming a writer. In these pages, she records her travel from fourteen through "sweet sixteen" (1929-1930), mixing the routines of her neighborhood life in Flatbush with poems, radio song lyrics, her love of books, regular trips to the theater to watch the latest "pictures," illustrations of her Jazz Age clothes, and her romantic notions about boys. Here, at the beginning of the Depression, she reluctantly shortens her education to learn marketable skills at a business school—typing, shorthand, letter-writing—and finds her first job in Manhattan at a fan manufacturing firm for $15/week. Though the novel she is co-writing with her girl friend is ultimately burned in the winter woods, this, the truer, fuller story, survives. It is, at heart, a coming-of-ages narrative. Posthumously published, this book finally fulfills her girlhood dream.
Born in Southampton, England, at the outset of World War I in August 1914, Josephine Fincken was the daughter of an English hotel worker and an American captain in the merchant marine. She arrived in Brooklyn at the age of ten weeks. As a girl, Jo attended P.S. 89, Girls Commercial High School (9th grade), and the Ellsworth Business School. Her church was St. Stephens on Newkirk Ave., where, later, she and her husband (also from Brooklyn) were married. For much of her adult life, she lived in Simsbury, Conn., and Savannah, Ga. Mother of four children, her lifelong passions were antiques and old colonial houses, one of which she restored; reading; hooked rugs and needlecraft; and worldwide travel. During the last ten years of her life, Jo drove a small two-door hatchback with a license plate that spelled ROAMIN.