It is always a delight to talk to my friend Alice Watson Houston. When I heard her bright and lively voice on the phone recently, I knew I was in for a something special. Alice and I were part of a group of young editorial types who began our careers at American Heritage Publishing Company. We all had a marvelous mentor in Alvin Josephy. What luck to have had Alvin in our lives; and what luck to have a group of women whose respect for each other has grown over the years. Before Alvin's death, we would meet every May at his lovely home in Greenwich, Connecticut.
As an aside: I have a favorite house in America--Washington Irving's Sunnyside in Irvington, New York. And I have a favorite room in my heart and memory--Alvin's study, looking out on Bruce Park. It was a tumble of books and comfort for the soul of a writer. Alvin wrote many books in his long and productive life, but I think my favorite is his autobiography, A Walk Toward Oregon.
Alice is inviting Mary Jenkins and me to tea at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York today. Because her husband, a well-known artist for Steuben Glass, contributed drawings to the museum, she has special dining room privileges. Alice travels from her 1700's home in Stonington, Connecticut, where this time of year her garden must be heaven. My own terrace is glorious rimmed in mountain laurel. (Our Iowa house has June about to bust out all over, too. After a really cold winter, it seems a miracle to walk on a velvet lawn beneath flowering crab apple trees.)
And so I am looking forward to Alice's tea party...and the talk of what we are all up to. I have two copies of My First Best Friend in my bag for two friends who, while not the very first, are very treasured work friends. Alice says tea will be her treat--Mary and I think it will be ours just all being together again, without pencils behind our ears. Work friends--would you like to honor one here?