Beat Chick

Grad helped define literary scene in Greenwich Village

Hettie Jones ’55 pens her poetry at the $4 writing desk she bought in 1960 in New York City’s East Village.

The desk shares a room with burgeoning bookshelves just off the entrance of her fourth-floor walk-up at 27 Cooper Square, the old tenement Jones has called home for 50 years.

The man who sold her the little carved oak table called it a secretary. And that’s what it is, Jones says now, although she despised the word at the time.

It conjured up images of office help, and Jones had bigger plans.

After graduating from Mary Washington, Hettie Cohen headed to Greenwich Village and helped define the Beat movement.

She’d left her Queens, N.Y., home for Mary Washington College at age 17 because she longed for independence. Her parents had hoped the journey would land her a husband. Jones had no use for such conventional expectations.

She was going places. The desk would help get her there.

But like most things in life, it didn’t happen the way she’d planned.