Saturday, February 26, 2011

Musings in the Wind

It is not quite March and I have no desire to rush the seasons. But it has been so windy that I feel the Ides of March in my bones. I am sure Mother Nature has a snow or two in store for us still.

I receive so many warm memories from readers of this blog and lately from former staff members, that I am inspired to share others. I never wanted this journal to be a trip backward. But it seems that the past is definitely a prologue at times--as the recent post from Catherine Sieberling Pond reveals. She did indeed write her first story for Victoria and she has gone on to be a writer of books and many articles. Her recent book, The Pantry, is something to dip into--as one might in one's own pantry of recollections. We had a real pantry in the house I grew up in--a little room all its own--as well as a back stairs whose steps served as a kind of pantry space.

I am delighted to know of Catherine's book and her ongoing activities, and proud as punch that Victoria was her springboard. She also met the photographers for her book through her magazine connections. Bravo to all--and I am thankful that the magazine existed and continues to connect in such personal ways.

Thinking back, I am often reminded of the wonderful man who made it all possible. I speak, of course, of John Mack Carter. While I don't get to spend as much time with John as I used to when we worked together and the years following when a lunch at the 21 Club was such a highlight for me, I often rerun conversations in my mind as we talked about so many things. His insights were always a revelation.

Once, when John was introducing me, he said this: "As her boss I used to look over her shoulder, but now I hold her coat." I have held that close to my heart ever since. My husband once said that he thought I ought to publish our correspondence because it was always so interesting and often humorous. But the words remain between us.

I had an opportunity to salute John on his retirement. Many of the people spoke appropriately of his influence on their careers and his many accomplishments. I took another path to John. I will never forget a spunky fellow very early in the morning in Central Park, holding a megaphone to round up his staff to take part in The Race for the Cure to support research for breast cancer. He was the only magazine executive of his stature there and, of course, we had the biggest contingents. That was John, a champion of women's concerns and causes. That John Mack Carter was a force behind Victoria is no surprise.

And of course, "Mr.Carter" (as we called him) was the reason I became an avid tennis fan. He generously shared his seats every year at the U. S. Open and it was there that I adopted the young Pete Sampras. Generosity is not something that necessarily comes with publishing DNA.

There was a movement once upon a time to say that men should not edit women's magazines. It sounded as sexist to me then as it does now. People should edit the magazines they are qualified to do. John survived the assault on his qualifications, as well he should have. And it was he who saw the possibilities of a magazine like Victoria and looked over my shoulder long enough to have it come into being.

I'd be happy to hold his coat any day.

Perhaps the wind blows the dust from our thoughts. And let's bring back pantries and all their hidden delights.

Photos: Nancy and John at the launch party for Victoria in the garden at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum; Nancy and John at a Victoria event.


  1. How I love waking early on a Saturday morning, & get a notice in my email that you made a new entry to your journal for me to enjoy reading!

    I just now ordered the book,"The Pantry"-- and am looking so forward to reading it. I had a Pantry in every house I lived in in North Dakota-{14 years ago}. In ND, especially on the Ranch, I coudn't imagine then,not having a pantry to hold all of the many utensils and cooking items,& canning supplys, the meat scale & the long butcher block table we used used to cut meats, made sausage---On one entire wall of shelves , we would buy in quantity store bought items {boxed and cases too of the extra things that were not home grown or readily availble out there}.We miss the root celler space also, for holding all of the beautiful made with love canned fruits and veggies ,pickles, beets,jams, jellys & condiments!I had canned & froze everything from my own garden there.

    I so love and miss looking at all of those Mason jars, filled with colorful and delicious foods.{especially the choke cherry jam & syrup}.-- When we visit ND- we our relatives give us enough to fill out car trunk-and bring home here to Reno.-- Well enough rambling for now!--,-Thanks Nancy for bringing me so many wonderful memories through your magazine, books , & now your blog posts..-Love,Valery

  2. Dear Nancy,
    Brr..March is indeed a bone chilling month and we can't get to April until March blows off the calendar.So I don't mind rushing the season.
    John must have been the BOSS from heaven. Why are there only so few good men that really know how to lead. We need more bosses like John's in the work force.

    I grew up with a pantry. I could always be found playing in the pantry. I pretened it was my store and I was in charge. Rearranging all the can goods and dry foods. I would even try to sell items back to my mom! LOL! It was only after I married and started my own home did I find newer homes had no pantry. Guess it's another reason we call the past 'The Good Old Days!'
    Enjoy the day.
    Yours Sincerely,

  3. The possibilities of a magazine like Victoria have certainly proved themselves...a large group of people with a desire for beauty, order, surprise, gentility and contemplation in an increasingly senseless, gauche and rude world without conscience or appreciation of the word beautiful! I will order the book and thank you for your post.

  4. I do remember John Mack Carter and do appreciate his influence in publications. Thanks for sharing your memories and pictures. Now I must go check out The Pantry.

  5. I met Mr. Carter once at a Victoria event at the Botanical Gardens in Brooklyn. He was charming and kind, asking me where I came from for the event. When I told him, Rochester, he was delighted. He asked me why I loved Victoria enough to travel that distance and when I told him "Because it's beauty I can see every day," he was equally delighted. His warm-hearted spirit just glowed.

  6. What a gentile man, the kind that is so rare today. My grandfather was like that, Scottish gentleman. He called my sister and I "Honey Lamb", does it ever get better than that? My husband is a gentleman, but they are few in numbers in 2011. About pantries, they are divine. My grandmother had one in every city apartment she lived in. They were small, but filled with delicious smells. I loved walking in hers, there always was a pie or plate of cookies sitting on the counter, I recollect. Thank you for sparking the delightful memory this morning.

  7. I have a signed copy of the Pantry sitting on my open pantry counter top. My pantry is in the open and I keep many of my cookbooks on it as well as an old fashioned scale. The Pantry is very inspirational and Catherine Sieberling Pond a lovely writer. I still have the magazine with her first article.
    Victoria lives on through those that were introduced to us from her pages.
    I do not see your writing as going back, but more a sharing the behind the scenes and I love it.

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