April, 1975: After the Nixon Administration’s ignominious finale there was a renewed public interest in what what was actually going on in Washington! Democratic Senator William Proxmire started a monthly Golden Fleece Award that highlighted government waste and its first award went to the National Science Foundation that spent $84,000 trying to find out why people fell in love!
I was at Yellowfingers with Philip Carlson watching some people trying to fall in love after which I left Philip and went to watch The Academy Awards with Richard Amsel. Richard had invited a few friends to his apartment after which he projected Alice in Wonderland from his (at the time, illegal) collection of 35 millimeter Disney and other feature films!
Two days later I went with my friend Marilee to her singing lesson with her teacher, Marjorie Rivingston.
Rivingston, working with Joseph Papp, would eventually coach Meryl Streep, Maureen McGovern, Jane Powell, Bette Midler and many other equally prominent performers. She coached “All of Broadway,” it was said. Marilee was hoping to become one of them. Ultimately she didn’t, but that’s a story I know nothing about.
Earlier, I’d taken photographs of Romanian born film actress Nadia Gray, aka Princess Cantacuzino, who had decided to have a cabaret act.
Her film career is most remembered by her doing a sort of elegant strip tease wearing and then, as I remember, not wearing a sable coat in La Dolce Vita — the film that also gave us the words paparazzo and paparazzi!
She was a mature elegant woman at the time and I loved the way she looked in the photos. She, however, didn’t and used a vintage photo that underlined, in a manner of speaking, the passage of time!
My friend Craig Caswell had surprised me with a visit from Washington D.C. and I was thinking it was a fortuitous bit of synchronicity. When I first met him years earlier in 1968, he told me that he’d been adopted as a baby. Not knowing how to properly respond, I could only think to ask how he’d feel or what he’d think if he were to meet his birth parent(s). He said he “would forgive them.”
I felt that that was a strong response even though he had rather calmly and cooly said it. Here’s where the synchronicity part comes in — I had recently been very moved by hearing a woman named Florence Fisher interviewed for an hour on Barry Farber’s late night radio show. She told her story of having discovered by accident as a teenager that she had been adopted. She’d said that her family life had been “difficult” as she had nothing much in common with her family either physically or more importantly, emotionally!
When she discovered that she’d been adopted, it made sense to her. And at a young age she’d decided she would look for her birth parents or at least her birth mother.
As an adult she did just that and even located her mother. She was finally disheartened to learn that her mother did not want to be in touch with her and she wrote a book, The Search for Anna Fisher, detailing her efforts and telling her story, eventually forming a group in 1971 and naming it ALMA!
Aside from it meaning or relating to the soul in several languages, it also stands for Adoptees’ Liberty Movement Association which has become the most successful and comprehensive organization fighting for adoptees’ rights! There is also a registry enabling adopted persons and birth family members to be reunited.
Through her publisher I wrote her a note saying that the very subtle abandonment felt by some adoptees (Craig) can also be transferred to close friends (me!) by my friend Craig’s sometimes erratic behavior and disappearances. She wrote me a note inviting me and “my friend” to an upcoming ALMA meeting. That was the unexpected synchronicity of Craig’s unexpected arrival.
When he arrived I took him to lunch at O’Melia’s and told him about ALMA. He became very quiet and noncommittal. I said that nevertheless I was going to the upcoming meeting and he was certainly welcome to come.
I wondered why was everything like walking on eggshells?
So Saturday found both of us at The Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church on East 55th Street at the ALMA meeting.
He was very quiet through the whole meeting — just looking straight ahead. After, I didn’t say much but was thinking that at least he knew what was possible and that any negative thoughts he might have had were not unique to him.
That night we went to Reno Sweeney to see — someone!
I didn’t want to push ALMA!
As quickly as he’d arrived, he left again for Washington.
The Vietnam War really was finally winding down and very soon the recently named president General Duong Van Minh promised to reconcile with North Vietnam! Finally Saigon was invaded by the North, Americans and South Vietnamese were airlifted out by helicopters and there was total chaos as South Vietnam surrendered unconditionally! Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City and President Ford publicly hoped that united as a country we could move forward without recriminations toward a common goal!
Meanwhile, I was simply having a workout at my gym in the Village and stopping in after at Pennyfeathers!
Life must go on!
A few evenings later, Marie Christine, my Parisienne “sister,” and her husband Arnaud d’Usseau invited me and a few friends for a quiet but intensely interesting evening.
Heaven knows there was certainly enough going on in the world to ensure interesting and intelligent conversation.
With Arnaud’s past experiences and political background he discussed many of the complications that lay ahead for us now that the war was ending!
And Marie Christine always so elegant and looking like she’d have been right at home at the Palais de Versailles!
And Eric Roper was Katia’s frequent escort/companion. I admired him as resembling the perfect elegant Manhattan WASPy man-about-town! He always appeared to be appropriately Brooks Brother’d even when relaxed! So totally different from the California types I’d grown up with!
So, the the longest war in the history of the United States was over!
And there we all were.
All of us!