A really nice friend and I recently had a lunch conversation that included a mention of my love for The New Yorker. She divulged that she had an attic slap full of the things dated back to the 30s. Even though I was serious, she laughed when I asked about moving into her attic for the better part of 2011.
In an email the next week to check in as usual, she asked me when my birthday is. I told her and didn't think anything about it because it's in July and this is January. I told her that I knew hers was in September, because we had lunch last year to celebrate a particular milestone around her age.
When we met again for lunch a couple of weeks later, she brought me two New Yorkers - one from the Friday before my Wednesday date of birth and one from the Friday after: July 13th and July 20th, 1963.
They were 25 cents each. There were ads for American Airlines' Astrojet, a Kodak camera with a new fangled auto-rewind feature, Marlboro cigarettes, Holiday pipe tobacco, Ferrara candy, all-polyester weatherproof Alligator coats, tequila, scotch, creme de menthe and more than a few brands of gin. Full-page ads for Haig and Haig Pinch, my father's Scotch of choice. Cordoroy was in. And so was Hawaii. Lots of ads for Hawaii. Ford and Sunbeam had new models with roll-up windows and lockable doors. Ventura had new lightweight luggage with keyless combination locks. You could go on an 8-day cruise from NYC to the Bahamas for $195 or take an "Around the World in 80 Days" cruise which stopped in 22 of the world's most romantic cities for $2,700.
The cartoons were timeless, albeit a bit sexist, of course. But what fascinated me the most were two articles of a three-part series written by Calvin Trillin, whom I've only known and loved as a poet, entitled "A Reporter At Large, An Education in Georgia", about two Negro (a word used often enough to make me uncomfortable) college students' experiences at the University of Georgia, which was apparently known for not being altogether welcoming to this sort of change in its population. I grew up in Georgia and attended UGA from 1982 to 1984. Trillin wrote about Atlanta and Athens and their newspapers and colleges and neighborhoods. He even mentioned Marist, my high school in Atlanta, which at the time was a pretty well-known all-boys Catholic military school. I was admitted to Marist's first class that allowed girls in 1977. Up to then, I had had some fairly decent character-building life experiences at home, but this was an initiation into the public kind and the Catholic guilt (and I'm not Catholic) that both continue to this day.
There was a heartbreaking story entitled "A Leave-Taking" written by Shirley Hazzard that made me google her. She is an Australian author of fiction and nonfiction, and her 1970 novel The Bay of Noon was shortlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize in 2010, according to the Wiki. So, what's a girl to do but see about finding this book at the library? My to-do list never ends, I tell you.
I'm sad that I have to return these treasures at lunch tomorrow. But I'm just so fortunate to have a friend who gave me this New Yorker glance into that week around my birth! I just found out that anyone can see the NYer covers online here, and subscribers can also flip through the magazines online after providing their account information. I prefer touching and holding and smelling books and magazines as I read them, but I understand you "e" types. Either way, it was a lot of fun and I highly recommend it!