April, 1974: Everything in the world was becoming unfamiliar and even unrecognizable. Patricia Hearst was still kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army led by someone calling himself General Cinque and the whole situation was beginning to resemble a 1950s-era B movie. Except it wasn’t.
The Hearst family, in response to General Cinque’s request had responded by donating a large amount of money to purchase free food for the poor but Patricia Hearst was still held captive!
At least the Arab oil embargo was ended but gas prices rose to 55 cents per gallon! That sounds good in 2020 but in today’s inflated value that’s over $3.00 a gallon! In the previous year gasoline was 36 cents a gallon, by today’s value a dollar less!
And as to the Watergate Scandal, President Nixon had been named as an unindicted co-conspirator as seven of his former presidential aides, “The Watergate Seven,” Attorney General Mitchell, aides Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Colson, Strachan, Mardian and Parkinson were all indicted.
A previously impenetrable curtain was slowly dropping to reveal the actual face of the Nixon White House!
This was more than a B movie!
Much more immediate and closer to home, Mary Milton was admitted to New York Hospital for a medical procedure. With my continuing schedule of work deadlines and the feeling of powerlessness it was a rough time for me — but of course, much more so for Mary!
The only thing I could think of was flowers! Nobody I knew loved flowers more than Mary so I brought her daffodils. Dozens of daffodils!
The brilliant yellow color did brighten the neutral colors of her hospital room and since I believe in mind/body synchronicity I hoped it would hasten her recovery.
The next evening I went to the Ethel Barrymore Theater with Eileen Brennan and Bill Rilling to see Noel Coward in Two Keys, an evening of two one-act plays, “Come Into the Garden Maude” and “A Song at Twilight.”
Afterwards we went to Charlie’s.
Mary got out of New York Hospital and I brought more daffodils. She was recuperating at home and not seeing anyone so I went to Connecticut to visit David Columbia (DPC). He was a wonderful host and it was nice to get out of the city and go to Connecticut.
It appears that I had something to eat with Dayna Golden at the Brochetteria, but I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t remember how I might have known her — or even if I knew her. It’s happened that sometimes I’ve drawn someone in a restaurant and they’ve noticed and so I’ve politely asked them their name (to be nice) and added it. That might’ve been the case with her since she does look interesting!
Whatever it was, I took the bus after — and drew someone else I didn’t know!
I was taking everyone I could think of to Ruskay’s restaurant and I was happy to see that the restaurant was becoming popular. I didn’t want them to go out of business.
There didn’t appear to be a lack of business so I stopped worrying.
Manhattan was becoming gentrified in so many neighborhoods and so many favorite places were simply disappearing that there was a feeling of insecurity as whole blocks of older tenement-style buildings were replaced by enormous luxury buildings. The entire character of a neighborhood would change in a matter of weeks.
Clark Allyn McCartney, an old friend from my teenage years, came to town and I showed him around while explaining to him that everything might be totally different the next time he visited.
He’d lived in New York in 1960 and was already surprised by so many changes. So I took him to Ruskay’s!
The Hearst kidnapping took an even stranger twist in mid-April when The Symbionese Liberation Army robbed a Northern California bank and the “captive” Patricia Hearst was photographed with them while holding a rifle and shouting orders at the customers! She had evidently joined them, her kidnappers!
David Columbia came in to town from Connecticut and with Watergate and the Hearst drama we had a lot to talk about!
Not only were neighborhoods suddenly unrecognizable the whole world had become different with situations that were hardly imaginable!
A few days later I was happy to meet with Carly Billings who’d come in from her home in Sag Harbor. She was so wise and worldly that she gave me hope that there was some decent continuity still in the world.
That she was also older helped but in reality, she was ageless and completely contemporary. She agreed with the student militants who were occupying universities and demanding changes and she continually called Nixon “a crook” and wished for his impeachment! Since she was a close friend of so many legendarily prominent people it gave her tremendous credibility!
She took me to lunch at Sardi’s and everyone who worked there knew her or knew of her as she had been an early investor in the 1939 play, ”Life With Father,” the play that still holds the record for being the longest running non-musical play on Broadway!
In 1947 it was made into a movie starring Irene Dunne, William Powell and a young Elizabeth Taylor along with a cast of familiar faces!
With road companies, amateur productions and even a television series I think that Carly had made a wise and very profitable investment!
With the character of a despotic but lovable father as the theme of Life With Father as compared with the modern Randolph Hearst, the father of Patricia, I guess there’s no comparison. As his daughter was recorded in a message sent to the Bay Area’s Pacifica station KPFA-fm wherein she referred to her parents as “pigs,” I guess the world of the ’70s was going to call Despotism within families a draw!