Thursday, August 24, 2017

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part CXXIV

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

My friend Gary Van Kirk had been invited to live and work in Paris.

He was a designer and while in Paris had met very important people who later would become very helpful to him. Starting in February, 1968 there was an attempt in Paris to overthrow the "Gaulliste" government of President Charles de Gaulle and things escalated to the point of a social revolution.
An anti-Gaullist Party poster (translation): "Just vote!  I'll take care of the rest!"
There were eventual nationwide workers' strikes with de Gaulle having to escape from Paris. He eventually returned and there was an election after which de Gaulle was deemed too old to continue.

It was decided that it would be a good idea for Gary to leave and return to New York, which he did.  Things finally calmed down in Paris, but Gary moved in with his friend Bill Rilling and decided to stay in New York.
Bill was a creative director at Alexander's Department Store, which in 1965 had opened a flagship Manhattan store immediately south of Bloomingdale's. Bill had a car — unusual in New York City since public transportation was so available.

And Bill's car was a classic 1963 beautiful white four door Jaguar.
I was invited to go with Gary and Bill to Jones Beach.  I was curious to see what a New York City beach would be like.
It wasn't like Malibu.
We spent the time at a terrace cafe where a lot of old people were gathered.  It was like a retirement community.  We went back to Manhattan and Gary drove.
The following Monday Amy Vane and I had an appointment at Metromedia. We were going to be on television talking about Underground Films.
It was exciting to think about.  We were going to be on the Allan Burke television show. I'd never watched it but I'd heard that it was a very popular show.
After we left the Metromedia offices we met Grace van Holsteyn at Daly's Dandelion,  which had recently opened.  Skitch Henderson was the owner and was also the popular music director of The Tonight Show — so the place had immediately become popular.
Grace was a friend of Paul Bartel's and was curious to know all the details of what was going on with us at Metromedia. She also asked if she could draw my picture since I had drawn her.
We told her about The Alan Burke Show and she was surprised.
She told us that Alan Burke was a kind of shock jock!

"A what?"

"A shock jock who asks embarrassing questions and sometimes exploits and humiliates his guests!"

"Oh great."
The next evening I was invited for dinner at Dick and Bobby Waddell's.

I was still thinking about what Grace had said about Allan Burke so it was a relief to be with them.
Karen and Sandra (Sandy) Waddell, the young daughters.
I asked them if they knew anything about Allan Burke and cousin "Tibby" (née Elizabeth) Karaman said, "Oh no! He's terrible!" She said virtually everything that Grace had said!
So ... Amy and I were going to be interviewed (or something) by Allan Burke!  I wondered if I should warn Amy.
The next night I was working on a deadline and my telephone rang.

It was very late but knowing I usually worked until dawn it wasn't unusual to get late phone calls.

My friend Herb DeLey was calling from Los Angeles and breathlessly, he said, "Kennedy's been shot!"

I said, "I know! Dallas, 1963!"

And he said, "NO!  Bobby's been shot!"

Herb and his wife Margot were at the Ambassador Hotel and in his acceptance speech, having won the California Primary Election, Kennedy had mentioned Margot's father who had been working with Kennedy and Cesar Chavez for the farm workers.

I quickly hung up and turned on the television to see an unbelievable scene:  Bobby Kennedy lying on the floor being cradled or assisted —  something — by a young kitchen worker!

There was a cacophony of news and reporters and I was riveted.
The next day we would learn that Kennedy was dead.
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