St. Louis, Mo.
International Shoe Company
1501 Washington Avenue
International Shoe Company warehouse
701 N. 15th Street
In 1931, Tennessee Williams’ father secured his son a summer job as an office clerk at the show company where he himself was sales manager. Later, when the Depression leveled the family’s finances and Cornelius withdrew his son from the university, Tennessee lived at home and labored full-time as a clerical worker at the company’s warehouse during 1934 and early 1935. Because he hated it and dreamed of being a writer, Williams later exaggerated his employment time there, saying it dragged on for three or four years. (Or maybe it just felt that way to him?) Williams wrote after work and late into the night at the kitchen table, getting by mostly on cigarettes and coffee.
At International Shoe, there was a brawny worker named Stanley Kowalski, a “ladies’ man,” who became Williams’ closest companion. According to one biographer, there is no evidence that the two men had a sexual relationship, but it is clear that Williams was infatuated with his co-worker, much as Blanche DuBois was drawn to the fictional Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Williams’ employment records at International Shoe list “ill health” as the reason for his resignation in the spring of 1935. Suffering from anxiety attacks that felt like cardiac arrest, Williams went to recuperate at his grandparents’ house in Memphis.