January, 1977: President Gerald Ford gave a pardon to Iva Toguri D’Aquino who was known during WWII as “Tokyo Rose.”
She was born in Los Angeles and worked in her father’s mercantile company.
She graduated UCLA in 1940 and in mid-1941 went to Japan to visit a sick aunt. Before she could return, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and WWII began.
She got a job playing music on Japanese radio and broadcasting. There were a few English-speaking women broadcasting and being called “Tokyo Rose.” When Iva came home to the US she was tried and sent to prison and served time after which Walter Winchell, the controversial journalist and popular broadcaster, on her return went ballistic and called her a traitor.
It turned out that some of the witnesses testifying against her had perjured themselves, and she was released early moving to Chicago where she worked with her father again.
My brother and she became close friends and my brother used to jokingly wonder what our late parents would think knowing that he was a good friend of Tokyo Rose!
Would they think that somehow they missed knowing that Japan had won the war?
I did meet her and can attest that there was nothing traitorous about Iva!
Plus, we were all UCLA graduates!
That would all be way in the future from 1977!
Meanwhile, there was a lot of excitement and curiosity about the incoming President Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer from Georgia.
I met Mike Jennings and we went to Serendipity III for ice cream; and talked politics! Mike was another one of the artist/gym buddies that had formed after gym workouts.
And then here it was, the Presidential Inauguration.
Ric Mendez, Sharon Lamoreaux and I were busy making fabric jewelry but were also wrapped up watching Jimmy Carter getting sworn in and then with his wife First Lady Rosalynn walking the parade route.
It all seemed “homey” and informal.
Beth Rudin, now being married to Jim DeWoody and with them living in a loft downtown, gave her Upper East Side apartment to Ric and Bruce Patterson which is where we were putting together our jewelry. It was one of her family’s buildings so it was sort of curious that we were doing our handcrafted business in a luxury building!
Ken Geist was a good friend of Paul Bartel and I was never sure of what he did professionally. He was involved in the entertainment field and I surmised it had to do with writing but more than that I was never able to ascertain. Whatever it was seemed to be freelance.
The Inauguration being so recent the conversation generally was about what we’d been through with Ford and the pardon of Richard Nixon — and Vietnam!
Richard Amsel had painted the poster for the movie, The Late Show, and invited me to go with him to an advanced screening of it at the Warner Brothers Screening Room.
It was written and directed by Robert Benton who had given me my first really good commission when he was the art director at Esquire magazine.
He had previously had success with the movie, Bonnie and Clyde, which he’d written with David Newman and left art directing to become a movie director.
When released, this film was well received by critics and did very well at the box office.
The next day I visited Ellen Bilgore who’d been very helpful suggesting outlets and boutiques for my fabric jewelry and accessory designs. I was pleased to see that she was even wearing one of my fabric necklaces!
My close friend Katia was married to Gervase de Peyer, who was a very respected and renowned concert clarinetist. He was concertizing with the Haydn Quartet performing at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.
Afterwards there was a reception hosted by Julia Markham who was a good friend of Gervase and Katia’s.
The time was moving swiftly and Jimmy Carter’s first month as President had been a busy one. The day immediately after becoming the President, Carter had pardoned all of the Vietnam War draft evaders. It was a pretty clear indication of his thoughts about the justifications that had been given for the US’s involvement in an unpopular war! Many people thought this was an excellent first move showing a possible more positive direction for the new administration!
I was having coffee at Pennyfeathers in Greenwich Village and I could sense a lighter atmosphere downtown and I found myself wondering if it meant the end of massive public protests and demonstrations.
Still the same Village characters but less anger.
Later I met with Beth DeWoody — and she agreed about a much happier feeling everywhere in town.
At least she was — and I was.
For the moment, that was all we cared about!