The deaths last week of singer Tony Martin and author Gore Vidal impressed me with how few people I know still walking around.
Mr. Vidal attended several Roman affairs when I covered the Vatican in the post-Vatican II’s years. Mr. Martin honey-mooned in Germany and I made a couple of American Forces Network Radio programs with him; he’s widely forgotten. But his 1948 bride – dancer Cyd Charisse – is recalled instantly, mainly because of her fantastic legs.
The state of my constant companion distresses me.
Both ex-Frederick Mayor Jeff Holtzinger and WFMD Morning News Express’s Bob Miller came up with the same title for the English pointer who brightens my life. They called Pushkin the “real downtown mayor.”
Of course, those were the days when our twice-daily strolls took in East Patrick Street and across Carroll Creek, before bad arthritis set in – for us both. My knee was replaced by Bobby Fisher and we visit West Frederick Vet biweekly for acupuncture by Stacy Dimaria, as I’ve written before. We stick to North Market where our yellow-door, 260-year-old house sits. A title reduction is in order. He’s nothing more than the mayor of our street.
He’s still king of all he surveys, generally my library’s Turkish carpet. Sometimes he surprises by climbing on the love seat. The nightly trek up to the bedroom is always laborious; some mornings he slides down the stairs, landing with a thud close to the front door. On July 9, he reached 14; in man-years the equivalent to 98. He came to live with me when 12 weeks-old on the eve of my 70th birthday, which comes in October. Last Saturday I was very forcefully reminded of my advancing age.
My eldest son, attorney Tom Meachum, and his beautiful, Minnesota-born wife, Kari, drove me to the late Drew Pearson’s Potomac farm, inherited by his step-son Tyler Abell. His wife threw a tremendous party for Tyler’s 80th birthday; they eloped after a New Year’s Eve party, fresh out of his Saint Albans and her National Cathedral School. She’s daughter to late Kentucky governor and senator Earl Clements. We met when she was social secretary in Lyndon B. Johnson’s White House; it was in late 1963.
While keeping my office at the Washington Post/Newsweek stations, I advised her on the performing arts and wrote program notes. We’ve been friends ever since. I learned about the party when I took Bess for lunch at Braddock’s The Silver Maple. She didn’t mention the other guests invited. I was astonished how old her sons, Lyndon and Danny, have become; their children were there.
When we first left Tom’s car to valet parking, I bumped into Chuck Robb, whose life includes being Virginia senator and governor. He was a Marine Corps officer and White House social aide before he married the “boss’s” daughter, Lynda B. Johnson. I was delighted to discover Charlie Warner, the best man in the elopement. We became friends when he was a sales manager at WTOP Radio; I stayed with his family in Darien, Connecticut. The era’s White House Historian Jim Ketchum now lives on a Pennsylvania farm; somewhere between Gettysburg and Carlisle.
The bittersweet irony came when I realized I’ll probably never look on their familiar faces again. We’ll soon join Lyndon and Claudia Taylor Johnson, and the witty, acerbic Liz Carpenter, whom I called upon in Austin with my “son” Michael Colgan; he bought a restaurant in Texas when his Venuti’s closed here.