Resident Spotlight: Jane Button

Lights, camera, smile!

While Jane Button celebrated her 97th birthday in December, she shared a small part of her past. When she was twenty-one, she moved to New York to pursue a modeling career. Her journey from Ft. Smith, Arkansas to New York was an incredible adventure and one that holds many wonderful memories!

Prior to embarking on the trip, she graduated from high school at age seventeen and started working different Civil Service jobs – including one in a glider factory. It was during that time that she met a “soldier boy” who caught her eye. He ended up being one of the first men drafted, but they engaged shortly before he left for France.

His initial assignment was supposed to last five years; shortly after his deployment overseas, Jane decided that she would head to New York to pursue a modeling career. Why did she to decide to move so far away? “Ambition,” she confirmed. After years of being told by friends and family members that she should pursue modeling, she finally made the decision to follow their advice!

Once she made it to New York, she moved into the Barbizon Hotel for Women where she lived during the time she was there. She found work almost immediately after reaching out to photographers and agencies to let them know she was available. At the time, she was twenty-one years old, almost twenty-two and recalled, “I loved what I was doing; although I was always trying to look older that I was. Vogue and other high fashion magazines were interested in older women.” Today it seems that magazines are looking for younger models – so she was definitely ahead of her time.

Relocating to New York was a move that her parents were apprehensive about, but supported. She quickly found a job at Richard Hudnut Salon in the evenings. This supplied her with a steady income as well as flexibility during the day to network and model.

Jane’s niche was in sitting for photographs, not walking the runway. At the time, she was paid well for her modeling jobs. She was in national magazine ads for well-known products at the time, Black Cat Cigarette’s and Coro Jewelry, as well as Pond’s Cold Cream. Her pay ranged from $7.50 – 25.00 an hour – a substantial amount during that time. She recalled having a few perks from those companies including some costume jewelry from Coro Jewelry and a year’s supply of cold cream from Pond’s.

Remember the soldier boy she was engaged to? He ended up coming home earlier than expected and when he did, she moved back home to marry him – another significant life decision that she is happy she made! She moved back in December 1945 and married him in March 1946. That decision resulted in a happy marriage and three children. Those children all live in Tulsa, so it was an easy decision to eventually make Tulsa home. And now she also has grandchildren and great grandchildren nearby, too.

Jane has lived at Montereau since 2007 and truly enjoys the community saying, “I have met so many friends here.” A fun fact about her? After attending a painting class shortly after she moved in, she discovered a new hobby and has been a loyal student in the weekly class for more than twelve and a half years.

Jane enjoyed her short modeling career tremendously and does not regret pursing her interest. Her daughter made her a photo book loaded with pages from her modeling days. In it are two of the Pond’s ads she was a part of. And in the ad, the company’s highlighted caption reads, “She’s engaged! She’s lovely! She uses Pond’s.” When I asked her if she really used Pond’s at the time, she admits that she did – and still does! Maybe that’s why she continues to look so young!

Jane displays one of her ads from her modeling days.