Monthly Archives: April 2012

Growing Up

:: Tonsils :: July 2002  My first memory is of my father. It was warm outside, a summer evening. The smiling man held me in his arms, against his white t-shirt, and I reached up to touch his face. His face felt scratchy. I felt excited by the change of scene, loved and safe and […]

The Fluffy Towel

January 11, 2002 I was not always as suave as you know me to be now, and recently a memory came unbidden that reminded me of just how un-suave I have been in the past. Years ago, I was a copywriter at a large advertising agency and one Friday afternoon we were having our annual […]

The Elephant Letter

March, 1988 Laurie, Abbie and I went to the circus last Sunday at the Syracuse War Memorial Auditorium; a more threadbare pageant you could never hope to see. After the first three acts, the show folk began resurfacing in new costumes with new names. Stuntwise, the degree of difficulty was never so high as to […]

Bessie Love and James Abbe

In June of 1998, I was spending a day at Pike Place Market in Seattle, a busy hive of shops where one can find anything from fresh fish to antique postcards. I was in a quiet corner of a shop specializing in the latter, when I was stopped, frozen, by an image that still fascinates […]

Eleonora Sears and John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent and Eleonora Sears are both favorites of mine, and so I was delighted to discover their paths crossed in 1921, when Sargent wrote to Sears asking her if she would sit for a drawing, and she accepted. Ethel Barrymore, the actress, wrote of her friend Eleo, “She has more charm than anybody […]

Louisa Lander and Nathaniel Hawthorne

The early spring of 2004 found me on a southern island, in a garden, looking at a statue for which I had no explanation. “It’s Virginia Dare,” a friend said, but the Virginia Dare of my understanding was a child, the first European child born on these shores, part of the Lost Colony of Roanoke […]

Edison the Executioner

When we bought our house in Skaneateles, it came with the appliances, including a built-in microwave oven with some unusual features. For one thing, it turned itself on. A repairman said that was probably the circuit board getting ready to go, “and that’s really expensive.” If we had chosen to call a witch doctor, I’m […]

Polo, Oysters and Evelyn Nesbit

A tournament for the Monty Waterbury Cup, in Aiken, S.C., called to mind one of America’s greatest polo players and the evening he dined with Evelyn Nesbit.James “Monty” Waterbury was a 10-goal player and a finesse player, always composed, in perfect control of himself, his pony and his mallet. Playing with The Wanderers, he won […]

Malt Liquor: A History

A Story without Heroes: The Cautionary Tale of Malt Liquor The family of American-born beers speaks proudly about two of its children. Ask about Steam Beer or the less gifted but very popular Light Beer, and the photos come out, the stories begin. But speak aloud the name of the other sibling, and the room […]

Basic Training, 1968

  The morning I went into the Air Force — September 26, 1968 — I started at the Entrance Station in Buffalo, New York, the same place where I’d had my draft physical a few months before. My parents dropped me off, and as they drove away, I saw my mother crying. I didn’t understand […]