A Daybook in a Life — St. Patrick’s Day 1984

Sat. March 17—New York City—St. Patrick’s Day.  Woke up, got out of bed, worked at my play for a couple of hours and then bundled up and headed downtown, to 9th Ave and 42nd Street to buy tickets to Fool for Love, the Sam Shepard play.  I stopped by Brooks Brothers on the way to buy a new coat and with the St. Patrick’s crowd milling around and my shamrock tie and pretty dreary looking coat, the 2nd floor guy didn’t hardly give me the time to say what I was looking for before he told me categorically that they didn’t have any such thing and then ushered me out the door.

I fought my way back uptown and watched the parade for quite a while from in front of Gimbel’s then came home and ate apple, cheese and a bagel then out again.  It was quite cold really, with periods of bright sun, but it was blustery and grey most of the time.  The parade this year seemed kind of subdued emotionally.  I think politics is creeping in to a damaging degree. I was appalled at the make-up of the Irish Northern Aid committees. I thought to myself they’ll need more help than that.

A Daybook in a Life–Days 168 &169

Civil War Battlefield Journey Continues….

Monticello, Photographed by Rufus W Holsinger via the Library of Congress.TMore


Sun.  June 17. 1984—Virginia–Had the best grits of my Southern trips.  We drove up to Monticello and did a fairly thorough tour.  The area surrounding reminded me, for some reason, of Olean though the vegetation was thicker, clustered certainly closer to the road and more “viney” than  W. New York. None-the-less,  that was an impression I got.  It was a beautiful day.  Hot, heavy sun.  I got a kick out of looking in the mirrors Jefferson looked in.  Mirrors have, after all, some spirit and image correlation.  It was interesting too, knowing Jefferson’s intense feelings about Monticello to try and imagine how peaceful and proprietary it would feel to have all that – the long terrace of gardens, the Mulberry Row of shops, the walks of flowers, the sense of satisfaction the Presidency would give.

I got a crush on a chubby little blonde girl who took tickets outside the east entrance and when she and her little skinny sister walked off down the path, something little placed in my heart sighed and will wonder forever.

We packed up and headed for Ashland, Monroe’s house, just two miles and visible from Monticello.  It had nothing of the “consequence” about it that Monticello does, but was interesting in a general way.  Peacocks (and pea hens) roamed the grounds.

Then on the road again North, via Rte. 64W and then to Staunton and Rte.11 North, the old Valley Pike.  I saw the wooden mill in Edenburg that Sheridan spared because it was the town’s only livelihood.  We stopped just short of Winchester and I took a long walk to determine the situation vis-a-vis the Battle of Kernstown.  I believe I have succeeded and will put my conclusions to test in the morning.

**Also on Rte. 64 we drove up the west side of the Blue Ridge Mountain in a gushing rain storm, and as we were just coming out of it, there galloping beside the road and alongside a “falling rock” fence was a baby fawn.  Disposition not known.

Sketch of the Battle of Kernstown, Sunday, March 23d 1862, Jedediah Hotchkiss. Via the Library of Congress Georgraphy and Maps Division.

Mon.  June 19, 1984—Virginia, Maryland and New York–Zach slept and slept while I read and wrote–a beautiful foggy morning in the Shenandoah Valley.  The very nice motherly Oriental woman who seems to own the place signaled me over for a cup of coffee and then couldn’t get the dispenser to work.  She thought Zach was my wife.  Two nights before a Pakistani motel keeper thought he was my father.

We drove a mile or so up Route 11 to the middle Road and then drove Southwest for app. 1 mile.  A ready row of trees went diagonally NW across the field.  I selected this as the sight of the stone wall of the Battle of Kernstown.  We drove the car up a farm path alongside the extended clump of trees and stopped where there was a break through.  Some older fella drove up in a station wagon. His son owned the property.  Later a real pretty lady came by named Kooce.  The owner was her husband.  She said that they were of the opinion that this was the place too and that reenactments had taken place here as well.

So we hit the road pretty well pleased and headed for Sharpsburg.  A few wrong turns later we were there, had lunch at the Red Byrd and headed out to hunt for property.  It had gotten very humid and hot.  I wasn’t feeling to extremely earnest about finding a place so after some desultory looking around, we headed back to NY.  Dropped Zach off and made it to the apartment by 8:15.  Took and abbreviated walk and made some phone calls:  Lee, Wade, Marta, Liza, Mom & Dad, read a bit and to bed.


Holsinger, Rufus W., Copyright Claimant. Monticello Cirkut. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2007663557/>.

Hotchkiss, Jedediah. Sketch of the Battle of Kernstown, Sunday, March 23d. 1861. Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2005625007/>.


A Daybook in the Life — Days 166 and 167

One of Many–A Journey to Civil War Battlefields

Seat of the War in America, Bacon & Co. — via Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Fri. June 15, 1984—New York and headed south—In the car at 7a.m. Down Fifth Avenue to 34th Street without a stoplight.  One of those new morning—old routine days in Manhattan.  Zach and I underway for the south at 8:30 or so.  A nice, cool, sunny day.  Gettysburg at 12 noon.  Hiked the battlefield, bought some books, watched the electric map (in exactly the reverse order that I’ve described) and generally enjoyed the afternoon.  After going northwest of town to see Reynold’s statue, we headed down Rte. 15, having a bit to eat in Leesburg then stopping for the night in a genuine fleabag near Warrenton.

Sat. June 16, 1984—Virginia—A reasonable start in the rain for Richmond.  We found a nice diner in Culpeper.  I ordered “blueberry cakes” and got some pancakes, covered with a gruesome blue smelling paste.  I ate around it and did fine.  Couldn’t find Kelley’s Ford nor the road leading to Clark Mtn. but we made it to Richmond all right.  Some cute little blonde girl screamed “stupid” at me when I was looking at the map and trying to figure out where to go but otherwise, Richmond was a bit run down and quite placid.  The downtown looked like an extended Olean with a three and four-story building kind of fading in the sun, the signs turning the weary off-color of long exposure.

The Confederate Museum was great, full of artifacts and little bits of business that everybody had been using the moment they were shot.  The presentation was in a chronological sequence and finishing the exhibit you’d pretty well worked your way through the war,  There was a distinctly southern bias to the tone, most notable in the plaque describing the battle between the Monitor and the Virginia .

We drove around a bit.  The Confederate White House was lost, very much like Thomas Wolfe’s “Old Kentucky Home”, amid the glacial looking new buildings, including the Confederate Museum itself.

We went through some real “poor” white neighborhoods in our efforts to get to Hollywood Cemetery.  There was a beautiful, clear blue-eyed girl, tough as a savage, standing looking at us as we hunted up and down the run-down streets for the entrance to the cemetery.  The cemetery itself was impressive in a lush, Southern Victorian way.  It reminded me of a swimming pool emptied out with heavy rock walls and huge Eucalyptus trees towering over the mass of grave stones and mausoleums.  We saw JEB Stuart’s, John Pegram’s, John Tyler’s , James Monroe’s, Jeff Davis’s, Geo. Pickett’s, Fitzhugh Lee’s, and a few other graves—Southall Freeman’s.

Unable to contact Tommy K..  We left Richmond and headed for Charlottesville along Rte 250.  Long straight and rolling ride to the White House Motel.

Stay tuned–the trip continues……

A Daybook in the Life Days 160 & 161

Best Man on the Job

Fri., June 8—New York—I intended to spend the day gazing around but I ended up all morning on the telephone.  A hot, muggy day–sunny and steamy–but very nice.  I picked up J. at 3:10 pm and we drove in heavy slow traffic up 3rd Avenue, across 118th Street to First and out over the Willis Ave. Bridge and on to Greenwich.  I was told that a toast was in order for tonight and nearly collapsed but that turned out not to be true.  We went to the rehearsal and things went smoothly.  The rehearsal dinner was very nice and the toasts were very touching.  T. and I eventually G. went to Tumbledown Dicks and stayed until 2.  Mr. P. growled at us from the landing when we came in.  Top bunk J’s room.

Sat., Jun 9–Greenwich, CT—The wedding. Got up early enough and went out for a walk with T. and C.  I sat down in every available corner to work on my toast and try to come up with a whooping last line.  I sat out by the swimming pool in the steaming heat and, this time, finally boiling sun. We suited up and got to the church in plenty of time. There was a “hard feelings” other wedding in progress.  After it was over, the bride’s mother came charging up the aisle demanding to know where their flowers had gone.  We said , “The ushers took them,” and she said, “Whose ushers?” in a screech.

The ceremony began with only a slight delay at 2:05 and proceeded beautifully.  C. burst into tears at the end of her short walk up the aisle and things got underway.  The ceremony was short and sweet.

I drove with J. and C. R. to the reception. I was getting very nervous by this time but enjoyed myself nonetheless.  My toast, followed by a reading of a couple of telegrams and a short decent description of J. and of our life and times and the jumping on me story about Leslie.  My finale was:  May you always awake at the top of the morning, live in the best of days and sleep wherever the hell you like.

After J. and L. left, J, P. and I drove back to the P.’s house.  We took a swim, then went out to the Jardines and then I drove C. R. home to Khakum Wood and headed to NYC with a big cigar.

A DayBook in the Life — Day 156 through Day 158

Business and Bachelors

New York—Mon. June 4, 1984–Nice day.  Headed off early for Westchester, then over the Throgs Neck Bridge to Long Island.  Mom and Dad arrived at 7:00 p.m.  Preparations under way for J.’s bachelor party. Out to a small dinner and to bed at 12.

New York–Tuesday June 5, 1984–Set out with Dad for INA.  One of the first sunny, steamy days of the year.  Subway downtown, good meeting.  We had lunch in the INA cafeteria and headed home.  Mom had the apartment all cleaned-up.  Flowers in the windows, tables set up.  Very nice.  Dad and I bought two cases of beers for $50 which caused some soul-searching but I kept thinking: this is once in a lifetime stuff.  Everybody was up and down the stairs all afternoon.  Mrs. Graham’s refrigerator stayed in the hallway the entire time.

Liza came just after the parents took off — about 4:30.  J. arrived just as Liza was leaving, about 7:30.

The gang began arriving about 8:00.  Once the food came I started drinking beers and smoking Woody K.’s cigar and I had a very muddled and cheerful evening.

New York–Wed. Jun. 6, 1984–D-Day’s 40th Anniversary.   I woke up with a faint sense of unwell being—head aching and tired but generally okay.  Jeffersonville and Ellenville.  I cancelled my plans to go dancing with Cathy.   Marc C. arrived on my doorstep with a bottle of French white wine, ready for the bachelor party.  For some reason I’d half wondered if he’d show up a day late because I thought it was odd he hadn’t come or called.

Listened to a tape on the radio and sat in the living room with the table cleared and Franny and Zooey opened, looking for ideas for a toast.  Nothing conclusive yet.  D.B. called collect and we talked until 1.

A DayBook in a Life– Day 74, Day 133, and Day 140

Wedding Bells and Blues

New York—Wed. March 14, 1984—Stayed in town, mostly to meet J.P. at Brooks Bros. and pick up our wedding attire.  I guess L. knows what she’s doing after all since things look pretty nice.

I played my electric guitar for an hour or so and got down a rousing version of One After 909. 

The day’s most intese experience was a poor incredibly dirty heap of a man picking his toes on the subway while I was enroute to Brooklyn.

New York –Sat.  May 12, 1984—A strange, atmospheric day.  The sky was a half white blue the color of a baby’s cornea.  Clouds were sort of blooping out of it, forming a series of thick, doughy obscene shapes.  At the same time, looking west down the side streets, lights were gleaming sweetly against the clearing evening sky.

Early in the evening, it blackenend and yellowed and gave all indication of a violent storm, but only a brief, fairly heavy shower came of it.

I was downtown at Bloomingdales at the “Registry” buying wedding presents for K.H. and J.P. and L.  It’s on a computer and the “read-out” lists all the items desired and how many have already been bought.  And once you buy the items they are handled, wrapped and delivered without any further concern on the buyer’s part.

Zach came to town and we went to see Moscow on the Hudson.  T.B.’s movie.  It was good but not exactly great.  I also, with Zach’s expert assistance, bought a lottery ticket.  The prize which was being drawn was $22 million.  I did not win.

New York—Sat. May 19, 1984—K.H. got married today, with her hair cropped short and her little thin neck and her mother not bothering to come, she was such a pretty and individual looking bride that for the first time I felt a real twinge of regret that some girl was gone forever.

Met Jane and Steve at the wedding and went with them to the reception.  It was down in the lower east side across from the Strand.

I walked home and ate apples and cheese ravanously. Also, at the reception talked earnestly and nonsense with M.H. for about ten minutes and felt enormously relieved–don’t ask me why.

A Daybook in a Life–Day 126

How Easy it is to Spend Someone Else’s Money

Sat. May 5, 1984—New York—Zach arrived here at 9:30, Jo soon after.  We drove to Boo’s in Fairfield, left there at about 11:00, drove to Mystic, Conn. And stopped for ice cream then met J. C. at Pequot Properties at 1:30 p.m.  She drove us to the  house mom had liked but wasn’t able to see inside. It was just as well, probably that she didn’t. Somebody was home cooking hard-boiled eggs and the interior of the house was basically conducive to the odor. We drove out toward Stonington, Conn. to see the “daffodil house” which was very nice, a lot like Maine, but too close to Rte. 1. Then we  arranged to meet A. from Boyer Agency at 13 Grove Street.  A most beautiful house which looked as if the sun had shown in it and the breezes blown in it since the day it was built—1863.  I believe.  A half block away from the water on a nice almost college quadrangle style neighborhood. We went back to Pequoit and bought it. Boo had the only  blank check in the group and signed it over for $10,000. Our first offer of $220,000 was refused—a second one for $225,000 accepted from a telephone booth en route back in Essex.

We ate dinner in the Tumble Down Café and went to the Griswold to await the arrival of Alice with the changes.  Signed, sealed and delivered at the Griswold Inn at app. 9:00 p.m. Dropped Boo off in Fairfield, Jo at her car, Zach at the door and to bed.

Between offers, of course, I spoke with Mom and Dad, on the basis of one phone call, at the Williamsburg Inn, not knowing exactly where they were or if they would be in.  A good sign.  I thought.

A Daybook in a Life – Day 105

Sat. Apr. 14,1984–New York—Looking out the window this morning at 10:00 a.m., it looked cold and deserted as a bad November day.  Discouraging weather.  One must, however, keep up one’s spirits.  What alternative, tell me, has one got.

L.W. called and wanted me to meet H. and J. for lunch. L. said he needed help.  So I trudged down to the Trump Tower in the rain and it turned out not to be a cozy lunch but distant relations. A., M. and Mother S, of whom, I’ve never even heard.  Anyway, we raced through lunch then they tore off to a play and that was that.  L. and H. and I ended up starring at one another as if we’d survived a hurricane on the roof of a house.

I trudged on home in the rain and spoke to L.P.   P.C. is house manager for a settlement house on W. 46th play center so Z. K.  and L.P. and I went down and met P. C. there.  The play was The Shoehorn by Mark Wiston, a pretty dreadful play about marital infidelity among the older generation.  Afterwards we went out and had dinner with the sound and lighting people–a nice girl name L.S. who lives in Brooklyn, a nice, nervous wreck of a kid with an earring–an uneasy addition to anybody’s wardrobe so far as I am concerned and another nice guy who reminded me of G.P. with overtones of C.B.

That was fun.  Home by 1:00 a.m. in a cab.  Englsh cabbie.

A Daybook in the Life–Day 93 and Day 97

Mon.  April 2, 1984—New York–I started off yesterday in pretty high spirits, striding to the bank, having my shoes shined, stepping fancifully around in the nice warm weather.  Things went pretty rapidly downhill though when I’d gotten home.  I was cleaning, folding and vacuuming for Dad’s arrival when I became inspired about taking C.B. out.  So I bought tickets over the phone to Sam Shepard’s True West and called the B.’s number.  T. (her sister) came on and immediately said that everybody had plans and suddenly I went from young man about town to kid in serious trouble.  The nadir was calling W. R., a tough but nice seemingly girl from Berryville, Virginia (scene of some interesting activity during the Civil War), and having her roommate answer and hear W. saying in the background to tell me she was talking a shower.  I had to hang my head at that one.

Earlier though, on the bright side, I signed and mailed my tax returns, completed, including my eye test, and mailed my license renewal and a contribution to William Westmoreland for his libel suit against CBS.

During the day, I got a flat tire (a big nail punctured the tire but it didn’t go down, it just would have) right near where L.B. lives, so I went and left her a note.  In general a hurried retreat turning into a rout on the girl front.

Fri. Apr. 6 1984—New York–A pleasant enough day weather wise.  Did business on L.I.  Had a nice lunch with E. R., P. B, and L. D.  I think half of the girls in that office love L., odd because he is a huge man and looks like a walrus.

I went to see True West tonight—all by myself.  It was kind of nice because in that stunned and appreciative moment when the play ends, you don’t have to start chattering to somebody about it.  I think I called twelve girls to go to it and not a one would come—nobody—nada.  I got to the theater early though and sat in relative comfort eating a bagel out of my front pocket and reading a New Yorker article about Mario Cuomo.

I bought a great pirate Beatle record tonight—File Under Beatles.


A Daybook in a Life — Day 1


Dec. 31, 1983—New York–I have decide to try and maintain a diary this year.  It will be more like a ledger (Scott Fitzgerald maintained a literary ledger detailing a monetary and publishing history of his work as well as a month by month short hand diary of his life for use as raw material–I will try to do the same) than a “dark night of the soul.”  I already make a practice of jotting down phrases which interest me, occur to me or I happen to read, so I will use this diary as a repository for all my little bits of paper.

It might be a nice place to maintain the weather and to reflect a bit on the news of the day.  Since my business actually is carefully registered I will not concern myself with that but I know that I keep hardly any track at all of my social time so that will be recorded.  A minimum entry requirement might not be a bad idea.  A lot of nights I barely get my socks off, or not even, so I might use today as a prototype—the last day of 1983.  A year book is a poor place to reminisce, so I will merely note that the year passes without great feeling or particular regret.

First Daybook Entry

Sat. Dec. 31, 1983—New York–The weather is cold and bright, the sky clear.  Slept on the sofa and slept.  Spent 2 hours on my play, rattled away on the guitar, then took a bundled-up walk down Fifth Ave.  I walked part of the way behind a youngish couple, she with a very hearty laugh, and overheard her talking about her mother walking for half an hour every day round and around the same block.  He said, “So I have heard.”  I approved of that. Once I got home, I sat down and wrote a note to Spectra Films requesting a promotional still photo of Nathalie Baye, a French film actress who is a favorite of mine. J.M. is having a New Year’s Eve party, I probably will go. C.H. said tonight on the telephone, “Happy New Year with skates on it…and stars.”  I hope so.

Ask and you shall receive–hand out photos of Nathalie Baye in La Balance.