Sunday, July 23, 2017


October 31, 1962
     Monday night Ed had two tickets to a cocktail party for Ted Kennedy.  He told me to buy a hundred-dollar dress, have my hair done by Miss June, and meet him in the lobby of the Statler-Hilton at 6:30.  I didn’t have time to look for a new dress last week, so after I had my hair done Monday afternoon, I walked around the corner to Sabien’s and tried on a few of their more expensive gowns.  I’m just not the Hundred-Dollar-Dress type.  I couldn’t find anything I liked as well as the pleated lavender dress I was wearing.                
     The party wasn’t terribly crowded, so getting a look at Ted was no problem.  My, but he was handsome!  And my, but the hors d’oeuvres were yummy!  I didn’t know which attraction to concentrate on.  Ed said he wished he had enough nerve to walk right up and shake hands with our future senator.  He sure had contributed enough to the campaign, but he guessed he didn’t have an aggressive personality.  Ah, but someone very close to him did. Ted made a brief speech from the platform at the far end of the room, and as he started to leave I could see he was going to pass within a yard or two of Ed and me.  I stepped forward, put my hand out, and the President’s brother paused and shook hands with me!   Not only that, but he said, “I’m glad to see you.
     Instead of saying, “I’m glad to see you, too,” I stood there speechless, gazing into his eyes.  Gazing into his eyes was no mean feat, I might add, as he’s slightly wall-eyed, and so am I.          
     When I came to, he had unclenched my fingers, withdrawn his hand, and gone his illustrious way.
November 18, 1962
     The youngest member of the family is sixteen today.  In honor of the occasion, I brought him his breakfast on a tray.  His gifts were a check, a sweater, and a Password game.
     “Hey, Maw, you can’t kid me, you’re like the guy who gives his son a railroad set and then monopolizes it himself.  Well, I might let you borrow my Password game once in a while, but don’t count on it.” 
     Mrs. White concocted the most unusual birthday cake this house has ever seen.  She knew Tim was fond of marshmallow fluff, so she used the frosting recipe on the Fluffo jar.  She followed instructions to the letter, she said, but the resulting product had the consistency of flour-and-water paste and was difficult to spread.  Impossible, judging by the final appearance of the cake.
     When we tried placing candles in the rubbery stuff, they got a toehold and then inclined slowly toward a horizontal position.  I attempted to twist one of the candles in place, but the frosting twisted, too, wrapping itself around the candle’s base and drawing away from the edges of the cake—as when Ed rolls over in the night and takes two-thirds of the blanket with him.
     Finally we just stuck the candles in various threadbare spots that Mrs. White had been unsuccessful in covering.  The effect was far from symmetrical, but at least we had what could pass for a birthday cake.
     When Tim came downstairs he found the cake on the kitchen counter, along with a note that said:  “Dear Tim—I dreamed up a beautiful cake, a real picture with lovely white frosting, but the gremlins were at work and led me astray.  It is a mess, but gosh I tried!  Anyway Happy Birthday—B. White.”
     “Hurry up and blow out the candles, Tim,” Mrs. White said.  “That stuff might be explosive!”
     Tim extinguished the candles with one gusty breath and then attempted to cut a piece of cake.  The frosting sank but didn’t surrender.  He lifted the knife to try another angle, and the plastic-like confection soared into the air, denuding Mrs. White’s Lemon Surprise.
     “Oops!” said Timmy, shaking the sheet of frosting from his knife and carefully replacing it on a rather battered cake.  “Stop laughing, everybody,” he ordered.  “You’ll hurt Mrs. White’s feelings.”
     She was laughing as hard as the rest of us.
     “It’s not her fault,” I said.  “We should put the stuff in an envelope and send it to the Fluffo people with our compliments.”
     Ed has a new car—a Ford Falcon convertible, black with a red stripe, white-wall wheels, and a stick shift.   It’s a compromise between our opposite tastes in automobiles.  It doesn’t have bucket seats, for which Tokay will be grateful (she didn’t like sitting on the brake in the Austin Healy), and it has a nice quiet engine.
January 3, 1963
     New Year’s Day Mrs. White prepared a holiday dinner of roast duckling cooked in wine and orange sauce.  She had dinner with us; we all had champagne first, then dined by candlelight, which has a wonderfully quieting effect.  Tim started to switch on the lights, but Mrs. White said, “Uh-uh, Tim.”
     “What’s the matter, don’t you want us to see what we’re eating?” Timmy grinned.
     Mrs. White understands that Ed gets home late from work, but she still thinks we should dine together as a family more often.  
     “Every once in awhile, why don’t you let me serve you all a nice dinner in the dining-room?  It would be good for the children to learn how to conduct themselves on formal occasions.  Then when they’re invited to other people’s houses, they won’t feel uneasy or self-conscious.”
     She is a dear to be willing to do this for the young Malley savages.  
     Mother sent me a poem called “The New Year.”

                        The New Year’s a penny untarnished and bright;
                        The New Year’s a baby, asleep in the morn—
                        A fine bouncing baby who’s glad to be born.
                        Let’s write in the notebook, nor leave any smudges,
                        Let’s spend the bright penny and settle our grudges,
                        Let’s comfort the New Year who’ll cry when he wakes,
                        And discover he’s stuck with the Old Year’s mistakes!

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