One day last month I read the following entry at The Writer’s Almanac:
“And today is the birthday of travel writer and novelist Mary Morris (books by this author), born in Chicago (1947). She grew up on the north shore of Lake Michigan, in Highland Park, which was largely rural at that time. She spent her free time roaming the woods and horseback riding through the cornfields. On one outing, she rode her horse across Adlai Stevenson’s front yard. He came out and gave her a wave. She went to college at Tufts University and spent her junior year at a study-abroad program in Paris, which kindled her interest in travel. As the old song goes, “How Ya Gonna Keep ’Em Down on the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree)?” Morris went to graduate school first at Harvard, and then at Columbia, and although she often writes about the Midwest, she never returned to Illinois for any length of time. She lives in Brooklyn now, and teaches writing at Sarah Lawrence College.”
Interesting entry to be sure. This gal is about my age, just a bit younger, and seems to have had an interesting life, one that allowed her to roam and write about it. What made me do a mental double-take was the inclusion of that bit about Adlai Stevenson waving to her as she rode by. Why did the Almanac writer include that? And what did that have to do with the price of rice in China? Is that her real claim to fame? I wouldn’t think so.
So it got me to thinking: what brushes have I had with the famous folks? Not that any of them made much of a difference in my life – except that I can sometimes, as the Brits say, dine on the stories.
Well, there was the time at the 1957 dedication of the new Girl Scout headquarters in New York City that I was approached by Averill Harriman. He was interested in the patches I’d just bought, and it wound up that he and a group of us scouts got our picture on the first page of the second section of the New York Times.
Then there was the time in Barbados that I got to the hotel just a week after Bennett Cerf, Roz Russell, and Frank Sinatra (be still my heart) and their spouses. Why did everyone there have to tell me what I missed?!
I once did have a door at a New York City bank held for me by Howard Cosell, and Frank and I did sleep in a bed once slept in by Bill Gates and his wife in a Provençal chateau.
Are you impressed? Oh, please look impressed! (Nah! I wouldn't be impressed either.)