by Caroline Luce
As one looks back on life, one wonders what one has achieved after 80 years. People are given different gifts, and bad or good luck enters into the picture. But I think in the end it is important simply to keep busy, doing the best you can with what fate has given you.
I consider myself to be a freethinker, one using common sense. If you do good, do it for itself, because it makes you feel good. Be open to people, but keep a quiet part for yourself.
My husband, Bill Luce, and I (then Carolyn Darrow) knew each other from high school in Philadelphia from age fourteen. At sixteen there we fell in love and were not to be separated (until a brief spell in World War II when he served as a quartermaster in the navy) until his death at age 69.
I had a gift for singing which began at age twelve. My high school principal was a musician who wrote several operettas which brought the school money in depression times of the 1930's. (This tall Lincolnesque man, popular with school parents at the beginning of Parent-Teacher Associations was to become head of the Philadelphia school system.) I was the lead singer in these entertainments.
My mother loved music. At age twelve I was sent from our northern Frankford suburb on a three hour round trip by trolley to south Philadelphia to the Settlement School of Music. I was too young to take vocal lessons, but was put in their youth chorus and taught the Chevé system of Solfeggio (sight reading) which turned out to be a godsend in learning opera scores in the future.
Reaching fifteen I was chosen as soprano soloist of all the schools to be featured in a teenage symphony orchestra concert in Philadelphia. The following year I had the soprano lead role in a play-musical put on at the Philadelphia's Academy of Music on Broad Street, also Philadelphia Board of Education directed.
Bill, my husband-to-be, was a boy of many talents, except for getting his homework done. At fourteen he was sports editor of his weekly high school paper. At sixteen he was its top editor. The paper, under his direction, was to receive many awards from Columbia University School of Journalism. He had the lead in the school play, "Charlie's Aunt" by Brandon Thomas. He and I were both in the school choir which was so good it did many performances around Philadelphia as well as on early TV (which then could be seen only in bars on a 4" x 7" screen).
Bill was an extracurricular boy who chucked his books in his locker and walked me a mile home from school every day. He had an IQ of 155 (mine was 137). When graduating he had to beg his Spanish teacher to give him passing grades to graduate and after a few months he enlisted in the Navy. (I graduated #3 in a class of 300.)
When Bill came home from the Pacific, sent back to go to officer's training at Colgate University, we were married in the final days of the war. Bill then came back to finish his final l'/2 years at Colgate with me in tow.
I had spent three years at Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts in training learning some twenty-five roles, large to small, in opera. During those war years I was a Red Cross volunteer, performing perhaps a dozen times for recovering veterans (including German prisoners) at the huge army hospital at Valley Forge. The hospital (torn down after the war) catered to soldiers with nervous breakdowns, or unable to cope for various reasons. The hospital was also a starting point of plastic surgery. (In my singing I encountered quadriplegics, men without faces, and the psychologically impaired. They say that the medical advances made in wartime outweighed in the end the loss of men on the battlefield.)
I also spent time entertaining and dancing with sailors of the British Merchant Navy. I heard their stories regarding the Battle of Britain. The ships of supply, the Merchant Marine, were heavily oppressed in World War II. They were sitting ducks for German U-boats. They were the ones to carry the most explosive materials with no one to save the crews as they went down. These poorer British men, mostly young, had defective teeth, almost no fruit available in World War II in Great Britain then.
In the war, with the experience in a Pacific typhoon, one of the least known disasters of the war, but one of the worst, driving a small boat in the midst of a large convoy of assorted naval vessels including destroyers, Bill felt nearest to death. In their close assemblage, these diverse vessels had the huge storm come upon them so quickly that they didn't have a chance to disperse, as was the custom. The waves were so high that Bill, in the dense rains, frequently could see nothing in front of him. When he could glimpse something finally, it would be a huge destroyer directly in front of him. The destroyer was certainly not going to move for him. It would have to be him in his 30 foot crash boat that would have to move - and move he did - time and time again. Many ships were lost in this storm.
By the time we married at age twenty we had had varied experiences that made us thankful just to be well and alive and together. Both our families had been of solid moral background, but forceful and restrictive.
Moving to Colgate was a wonderful first year of marriage.
The GI Bill of Rights certainly made it so. My husband's war duty made him very
grateful to both institutions. We lived penuriously there, but very
appreciative of the beauty of the campus and the people who from the war made
for a more varied campus population.
I think it would be wonderful if each one could take off a year or two between terms or after school to do something that really interests them before settling down to a forever job. There should be scholarships. Keep in mind if both husband and wife work, neither can become ill. You must allow for such a thing happening. The second lesser salary should be saved.
When my husband, Bill Luce graduated from Colgate University in spring of 1947, he was fortunate to have a recommendation from his journalism professor, Roger Spaulding, in seeking a job on the Binghamton Press, one of two daily papers in that New York State town.
We had spent our time at Colgate climbing its tall campus hill back and forth, swimming and playing tennis on the university's courts, breaking in apartments for the newly married in East Hall and the new prefabricated units in the sports area across the road from the school. Bill augmented our meager salary selling Herald Tribunes on campus, while I kept track of East Hall's newly married's laundry which was deposited in our two room apartment hall, and necessitated our crawling over it all week long. I had two piano students at a dollar each. At the end of each month we ate shredded wheat and a lot of potatoes and onions augmented by canned tomatoes. (Oh, don't forget Spam.)
I delighted in telling my husband that I had more pictures in the Colgate class of '47 album than he did.
With few women on campus it led to my acting in the play "Arsenic and Old Lace." I also had the lead in "The Drunkard," an old Victorian play and sang ballads in its intermission, sang with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra and went weekly for voice lessons at Syracuse University (with Florence Hartman).
At Colgate in the town of Hamilton, New York in a production of the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, "The Gondoliers," I had the soprano lead. For all this I received no remuneration, but kept my voice in trim, a very necessary obligation. Bill was no slouch in his final year at Colgate, as editor of the college magazine, "The Banter."
Our additional gift from Bill's Delta Upsilon fraternity was a free dinner for both of us each Sunday. Did I say "Free?" In return, we were to act as chaperones at that frat's parties. (Bill went alone to check the building's upper floors.)
The whole year was what you might call "Poverty Deluxe." But we added a group of friends that lasted a lifetime.
On to the Binghamton Press where Bill started out writing stories on publicizing the paper's social programs for the children.
In a number of articles leading up to a soapbox derby, the paper ran into trouble. The hill used was fine for the races, but the crowds that came for the show were enormous. The crowds kept pressing the wooden barriers more and more into the street itself By the time three races had concluded, the ambulances were rushing to the scene to aid the injured. One woman, who was breast feeding her baby, had a wheel off a cart enter her window and scare her to hysterics; another old man had his left tibia of his leg broken; and people were tripping over each other, trying to get away. I, on my way to the supposedly innocuous scene of childish delight, found myself on the bus delayed by ambulances from not only Binghamton, but three or four surrounding towns in the area.
There were court cases for years after. Obviously my husband had overwritten the joy of the occasion for young and old alike. The opposition newspaper took over the assault as well. The story was a watermark in the Binghamton Press's history.
Bill's articles thence appeared unbylined and the newspaper got him a job at United Press International - in Albany, thinking probably that the stress of the wire service work would finish him off there.
But Bill was to take the bit and prosper at the job.
The U.P. wire service was just the thing to either kill off or make a newspaper man. You had to type fast in perfect English, you had to be unassailable in your facts, and be first on the wire with the story if possible. The stories from New York's capital city were among America's most important. What Bill had was a well-grounded moral background, common sense, and a lack of fear in questioning the most important people.
What the United Press needed was bright young men - cheap! In due course, what Bill did in Albany was to man U.P.'s night desk alone past midnight, along with another man who could fix anything that broke in the office. At least one night a week, Bill would be out with this older Irishman in one of the local Irish bars celebrating a very dull or very active night. I think they were waiting for a story to break (excuse) or one that failed to. Once a story did break in the bar. Tom, who was well-known as a character and storyteller about the Albany bar scene, got his ankle twisted in the brass foot bar and tumbled over breaking his ankle. It was the talk of the town for several weeks, but the story never got on the wire.
Meanwhile, I was living just up the hill from the U.P. office and across the street from the Capitol Building on State Street. I can remember sliding down the steep sidewalks on the ice in winter with a pot of coffee in one hand and a sandwich in the other prepared for Bill's nightly lunch. For about a year and a half, I had a job on General Electric's radio station, WGY, on a half-hour weekly program featuring me and the studio orchestra, in classical works. (Three-initialed stations were the first radio stations in America. It was on WGY that Rudy Vallee came to fame. For the first time his light tenor voice could be heard without a megaphone.) I also starred in the Albany Knickerbocker Guild's production of Victor Herbert's "Mademoiselle Modiste" for which I received a very good review in the Albany papers. (Remember "Kiss Me, Kiss Me Again?") I also appeared on early TV programs at General Electric and was paid $28 a program.
I sang before the full New York legislature at a luncheon party given by General Electric. The only woman, I danced with many legislators of whom I remember none. I think I received $25 or $50 for the gig. All this was a great experience, but little money.
The musicians that I met could have interesting backgrounds. One very elderly flautist, as a bandmaster and conductor for royalty in Russia, knew well all of the famous musicians of the time of the Revolution. He had been caught in Poland in the crowds of a preliminary uprising, where the czar's troops had fired into a gathered mass of people, killing all before them with random fire. He had seen Rasputin in the streets of Russia's capital, a huge man, red-haired and with piercing eyes. The czar's personal army was selected for their great height and atop their strong pony-like horses, bred for the cold of northern Russia, they moved at a gallop throughout the city. People must get out of their way.
At the time of Governor Dewey's non-election to the presidency, Bill had written his first byline article. It was about how Mrs. Dewey was going to do over the White House. Needless to say, it didn't get printed.
So now Bill is sent to the main office of United Press in New York City. They were
looking for a bright young fellow there (cheap). With this move he was now making $75 a week.
That's where we met the Beat Generation - the trio of Lucien Carr, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg - a year or so before Kerouac's book "On the Road" came out.
Lu Carr also worked at U.P. and he and Bill became great
friends at once. They were opposites in temperament - Lu, bombastic, a drinker,
devilish hard-worker, prankster (but never in his work), vulgarian - a dual
character, to say the least. Allen was a penniless poet from Paterson who
sometimes asked for carfare home (and was avowedly gay). Jack was to me
introverted, gentlemanly, always watching life around him with the question in
his mind: "What's it all about?"
We thought that since these were among the first New Yorkers we had met, that all New Yorkers were a little crazy. But they were very interesting to watch and talk to. Each one would be considered maladjusted to life - but the conversation, ah! They knew in reading and writing -things we never knew before - and each had his dark serious side. But you must go to other books for that story. Days for Bill at United Press - and Lu, too - were fast paced. Most of the foreign news came in on the wires from abroad at night. So much to learn and do at about age 24 or 25. It was the first real time of challenge for these young men who worked the 7 to 3 A.M. shift. (The bosses wanted to go home early.)
Then there were the perks! U.P. never gave a raise except two weeks before one was due anyway. Tickets to very big events were sugar candy. Bill would get on the phone to me, "Meet me here at seven. We're going to the first Book Awards Dinner at the Plaza tonight." Three hours later we would find ourselves sandwiched at a round table in between Erich Maria Remarque, who wrote "All Quiet on the Western Front," and Irving Stone who wrote a string of biographies (including one on Clarence Darrow, the famous defense lawyer, "Darrow for Defense"). Bill was squeezed in between Remarque and James T. Farrel, author of "Studs Lonigan," a book greatly admired by my husband who had read it as a teenager using a flashlight under his bedcovers. We were almost speechless with awe. When Bill didn't interview them, they proceeded to imbibe heavily and have a good time, probably never having met each other before.
We attended Ella Fitzgerald's party celebrating her 25th
year in show business.
We spent the rest of that year following the Beats around the Village Saturday nights, meeting Allen and Jack either in the waiting room at U.P. or at a famous-to-be Italian restaurant, the San Remo, at MacDougal and 4th Streets in Greenwich Village. A half dozen New Year's Eve parties followed, becoming a tradition at Dody Muller's various apartments. Dody was Jack's girlfriend for a number of years. (An eighth generation Texan, Dody was descended from Jesse James and Geronimo. Her maiden name was "James.")
We were at the famous party in Lu's Chelsea loft apartment when Kerouac threw down his roll of yellow wire paper (which Lu supplied him with from the U.P.) Lu's dog, who drank a lot of half-full glasses of booze left on the floor, went over and promptly peed on this first unpublished edition of "On the Road." (Potchki was paper-trained after all.)
In a year or so, "On the Road" came out, an instant success. At a year later's party at our house newly bought in Teaneck, Kerouac was to say proudly that he had made the most money in his life that year. "Fifty thousand dollars!" he bragged. We asked him what he would like as a reward at our party and he said, "I'd like to kiss all these pretty girls in the room" (about eight in number). And he did. So, I've been kissed by Kerouac, sung Deanna Durban songs with Allen Ginsberg, been to Kerouac's wedding (bring your own booze, he'd furnish pretzels and chips) in a borrowed apartment on W. 23rd Street. But that's another book, as I said.
Before Bill was thirty, he left United Press. He was in direct competition with Lu Can for promotion, and Bill thought U.P. was uniquely suited to Lu's talents (for irreverence) in the news business. Lu Carr was to end up in Washington, D.C., as head of the U.P. Bureau there. I'd love to have heard him dealing with the bureaucrats, pols and foreign correspondents in his job there.
We had left New York City to move to Teaneck. That town was to become an interesting experiment in interracial living and religious diversity. It was a middle-class community that remained middle-class. I sang in a choir at the First Presbyterian Church that had a quartet of black bass and alto, and white soprano and tenor. I played in a town musical that had the role of the Queen of England played by a young black woman. The great African drummer, Olantunji was the guest star of the show. He was one of the first drummers to introduce the fantastic drumming to be used in black high school performing bands. The production was by Jewish directors from New York City's Broadway. Teaneck would have been called "leftist" in the McCarthy era. Howard Fast, the novelist, lived there, and many of the famous people of the arts and in sports (Mickey Mantle, for one). Paul Volcker, Secretary of the Treasury, was a member of the church I sang in. I never met a nicer group of people.
There were protests in the community about school teaching (wanting more information on Black history). I was on my way to a rehearsal when we were confronted by a group of about 100 High School students who had been protesting the lack of black studies in the High School. The students milled around us, parting so we could pass them, waving and smiling as we proceeded. The last time I saw Teaneck, it looked great. Once in a while I drop in to see a friend there (Teaneck had many faiths represented, including a Bahai Temple and eventually a Muslim one. Mixed marriages were not uncommon).
My husband, in moving to The New York Times, began a slow but steady move up in the work force there. He started on the rim of the bull pen (the center of the room where "the bulls" rule) - a long curved table with perhaps ten or twelve people, learning from the Times' style book of rules for new editors. This was dog work, moving up from editing "C" heads on one paragraph stories, on to two paragraph stories, onward and upwards until city desk stories were given them. (In some ways city, then state stories, are the hardest to write. The public is very near you and supercritical. You are sure to hear from them if the slightest thing is wrong. Who, on the other hand in New York, is going to correct your Far Eastern Russia copy?)
In tiny steps he advanced. (He had wanted all his life to be a reporter, but I knew he had a gift in editing. Every wife knows that she may lose her husband when he goes abroad. Foreign correspondents can be terribly spoiled by the attention and can have a freedom abroad, not available at home. If his or her marriage is shaky, it made for a breaking point. They have a big adjustment to make after the usual three years away.)
As Bill progressed from United Press to The New York Times, he was often daunted by his slow progress and in buying a house in Teaneck, New Jersey. (We paid $12,000 for it, and he wailed, "We'll never get our money back." I worked like a dog to prove him wrong - for over thirty-five years. When we finally sold it, we got $200,000 clear, but he never apologized. He had been taken from his beloved Manhattan!
The reason we moved to Teaneck was that I was pregnant at age twenty-five and I wanted to have more than one room to live in. We had a $2,000 down payment and a $10,000 mortgage.
We both put in a difficult time the next five years. Bill groaned about the bus trips, missing the city, having to meet the last bus from New York City at 1:25 A.M. Me going through five years of trying to have children (two miscarriages, one baby that lived only nine months, and one born dead.)
I gained forty-five pounds in those five years, and made to feel it was all my fault. For the last two pregnancies I had been "medicated" with steroids then called "DES" or "Stilbesterol" later called "steroids" and used to fatten up cattle and athletes. Because of the change of names, I did not know for years of the experiment. It was an experience I would not want to go through again. But, in a strange way, it had its own silver lining.
The pressure is on young people to produce children. You are
left out of many things if you don't (In my family history, I am descended from
the Du Bois family. I read recently that if you have been born in this country,
one in every seven people have Du Bois genes in their blood - this from one
family in the Hudson
Valley of the 1660's). We
no longer need that many children to develop America. I used birth control after
my attempts in having children.
So, after all that training and gaining weight, I took to my house as a sheltering cave. I would show Bill we would still get our $12,000 back if we ever moved.
Now we see the ascendancy of my dear husband, Bill. He became, in time, assistant city editor. Sections were added to The New York Times, such as the New Jersey and Westchester Bureaus, Business, Auto, Metro, Arts and Weekend additions. Of these, he was the beginning editor on the New Jersey section, first editor of the Weekend section for which he wrote a nine page recommendation to start that section. He was culture editor for about 3 1/2 years. His staff included Ada Louis Huxtable and Paul Goldberger (architecture), Brooks Atkinson (drama), Anna Kisselgoff (ballet), Dick Shepard (Broadway and Jewish entertainment), John Rockwell and Harold Schonberg (classical music), John Canaday (art) and Clive Barnes (ballet and Broadway). We saw and heard everything in town.
You must keep in mind that newspapers are open 24 hours a day. Night work is some of the most demanding. The paper must be ready for early the next morning in New York.
As a young boy in high school, Bill had to go to the printers every week to see that everything was printed correctly as possible. This he did daily when he was on duty late at night at The New York Times. He had a good relationship with the printers. He was always enthusiastic and trying to get the best out of people.
Writers and other workers need coddling and appreciation. A newspaper is a creative process, starting over new each day. He genuinely liked the newspaper business and all the smart, diverse, writers and the large support staff about him. It was never dull.
Abe Rosenthal came to depend on Bill and not have to worry needlessly when he was off on weekends (Abe was to call him "Keeper of the Gate."). Sammy Solovitz, one of the last ‘copy’ boys at the Times who really knew what went on there would say, “I don’t know how Bill does it all.”).
After being culture editor, Bill became the Assistant News editor and then the News editor. That's the one who put the paper to bed each night. An hour or two late might cost many thousands of dollars. There could be one, two or three editions in one night. Substitutes for my husband could be just as important in eventually earning their way to the top.
My husband, having no children, worked over holidays to let others celebrate them.
It was not uncommon for Bill to work an eleven hour day . He mostly had a sandwich at his desk for his dinnertime lunch. He was finally offered a coveted office overlooking 44th Street with all the sights of Broadway theaters and crowds at show time below. He turned it down. It was necessary that he be obtainable to all the third floor reporters and located in the middle of the room.
Gradually, the age of having children passes and other things take to your mind as important. I know that I could not have survived catering to both my husband's career and having children. In the larger scheme of things, I thought my husband's strivings were more important than mine. His reversal of hours and style of living were to continue throughout his life.
I was handy around the house. He was not, nor did he have the time to be. I puttered around quietly in the morning. He had a difficult time getting awake, even with an alarm clock. Once I left home to visit my mother for three days and he was late for work for those three days. Later, when someone would ask me what was the most important part of my life, I would reply, "Putting Bill out on the porch to go to work each day."
After that, the day was mine. I hand-scraped the woodwork in my 1906 house in the dining and living rooms. I never had a paper hanger or painter inside the house. I did the work. I paneled the kitchen. I handled the finances, although Bill did the yearly taxes. I gardened, knitted, needle worked, read - got to like the solitary life in myself - made nest, although imperiled by the thought that we would never get our $12,000 back.
Since the age of seven I had been in church choirs and, except for maybe three or four years, continued to. I left the Episcopal Church at age thirteen and sang in Presbyterian churches until age fifty when I quit cold. I started with pay at $4 a week, ending up at $17 which barely paid for my music. I also sang for twelve years at High Holiday services in a reformed synagogue in Teaneck. I gave several solo concerts at Teaneck First Presbyterian Church to benefit two funds to buy a grand piano and a very good organ. I was a Red Cross volunteer at the county hospital for several years.
My neighbors were my best friends. It was a lonely life, but I was glad to being taken from the obligation of making a serious living.
In the early 50's, when The Times was starting up some of their new sections the New Jersey edition, Hal Gal, asked my husband if I could do some kind of column for that section, maybe on clothes or something. I thought about it and came up with an antiques column, once a month at first and then going weekly. (Hal wasn't dumb. He knew that my husband would be my editor.) I knew and loved the antiquing part, but I didn't know how to type. Between learning that and my husband returning my copy three or four times to me for corrections, there was many a day that a couple of tears would roll down my face while I fumbled at typing and rewrote and rewrote and rewrote.
By the end of the first year I could get by with just one editing. By then I had acquired a full rack of almost a hundred books on the subject, an old car, and several maps of New Jersey. I reported on New Jersey museums, huge antique shows, individual shops and collections. I covered the state to all its borders with an occasional sortie into Pennsylvania and New York nearby. I did this for about 4 1/2 years. When I quit, they tried to replace my column, but couldn't and haven't to this day. (The wonderful photos plus my story and ads would frequently take up the entire page. All this (plus my editor husband) I did for $250 a week plus 8 cents a mile for my car.)
By the time he retired at age 64 in 1988, Bill had many high points to look back on in his life.
He had been editor on the desk when Malcolm X was killed.
He was sent to Attica to coordinate and edit the reporters at that week long New York State uprising of prisoners against their guards. (Governor Rockefeller didn't look good there.)
In Pope Paul's visit to New York, Bill was managing the desk at the time. It would be fair to say that many people at the paper would work in relays on large stories like these. In this case a book came out in celebration of the occasion, The New York Times knowing many of the facts.
My husband worked many times on the large (two or three pages) "take out" sections which The Times put out in its main sheet. These were of historical value, called "take out" by the fact that they could be removed or "taken out" by scholars for saving, done more in the past than present.
Sometimes reporters and editors had to stay with a story, like a plane crash or national crisis, kept in New York City for several nights in a row, simply because they were the only ones that had all the facts in their minds.
In the last seven or eight years, The Times sent Bill on trips abroad. As News editor he needed more background on other countries in the world. Also it enabled him to check on the reporters stationed worldwide. Because he did the traveling on his vacation time, he could take me along. (Double and single rooms are the same cost and, as a couple, we took cheaper plane tickets, plus food adjustments were made.) We visited Europe, India, Russia and the Near East on separate trips. The reporters abroad were happy for any news from New York or the U.S.A. They also poured out their problems in working abroad. (Many of the countries had limited statistics. A reporter relied heavily on their native office support and translators.)
When we were close to taking our European trip, Bill got a call from Gay Talese, the writer and a former Times reporter. He had an artist friend who came from Udine in the far northeast section of Italy. That area had suffered a serious earthquake. Gay wanted to know if we would be going to that part of the country, then further explained that it was mountainous and not particularly known for great artworks. What it did have were numerous chapels and small churches in its mountains and valleys, with many old fine architectural interiors and statuary, many having been heavily damaged in the earthquake.
So we made the trip there first. The large town square and other open places were still filled with tents. I stayed in the near empty hotel while Bill spent three or four days looking at the damage to the artworks. Statues and architectural pieces had been laid out in front of each religious building, large and small. They were still waiting for another quake. Priests and town fathers welcomed the attention gladly. It was not a rich province.
Bill wrote two columns of highly descriptive information and wired it to The New York Times. It was then selected to be printed in The International Herald Tribune in Paris (This went worldwide).
Millions of dollars poured into Udine and the surrounding countryside. It was most satisfying to Bill to be able to make a difference in the relief effort.
Since we had dinner mostly at 1 A.M. at home it would take Bill several hours to get to sleep, usually with an ear attachment to the TV, looking at old Laurel and Hardy movies to drive his job from his mind.
I was alone a lot. But I cultivated many hobbies, one of them collecting books on Hudson Valley history and genealogy. I traced four branches of my family - three back to the 1600's, two Dutch and Huguenot, and one German branch to 1710, all early settlers in Ulster County, New York. I piled up files of printed material. We had a small cabin on the Esopus Creek in Saugerties, New York, the town in which I was born. My mother and father, cousins to each other, retired there. I've spent a part of my life there every year.
It became a haven for even Bill, an inveterate cigarette smoker, who came to appreciate all the varied food and restaurants in the Catskills and a totally different outlook in contrast to Broadway and 43rd Street in New York City.
When Bill retired they gave him a fine retirement party in The Time's penthouse, with the new young Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., its publisher present.
Money collected from fellow Times workers resulted in a gift of radio, CD, record player, TV film attachment, speakers, headphone and baton (to conduct the orchestras he listened to, of course).
Two other gifts were dinner for two at the Rainbow Room and dinner for two at the top of the Twin Towers (only a memory now) in Bill's favorite city, New York.
Bill enjoyed his retirement - reading all the books he had missed along the way. He became my chef at dinner parties (I being in charge of my usual peasant meals). He would go into three food stores searching out the special ingredients required. I would be eagerly waiting at home to see what we would be having, so I could set the table.
One day, Bill had tests made because his legs hurt him. I got the results at home while he was shopping for food. I was phoned that he was having a serious aneurysm and must get to the hospital immediately. I waited an hour-and-a-half in my garage for him to return with the food he had bought for a party that night.
He survived the operation, but died of a second one on December 9, 1994. Arthur Gelb of The Times called me asking where and when the funeral would be.
"Arthur, Bill said he would haunt me if I spent any money on a funeral, so I thought in the spring I would have a party for all his relatives and Times friends, which he would have loved."
Arthur said, "We'll do it here at The Times. I'll put Gerry Gold (Pulitzer Prize winner, as head of The Pentagon Papers condensation) and Dick Shepard in charge and we'll do it in the spring. And they did, with 100 people invited and a simple toast, "Let's raise a glass for Bill Luce!" Years before, at Bill's retirement party, Joe Lelyveld, who couldn't attend, sent a postcard to Bill saying: "I don't think that when I retire I will be replaced by 4 people. You will always have that honor."
If I ever had a ghost following me about, it was Bill Luce. I mourned seriously for about three months.
I was left to manage the set of six condominiums in Englewood, New Jersey, a nicely designed architectural combination of Japanese-American design in a group of three twin houses. Bill was manager before me. I ended up baby-sitting the six while most of the inhabitants went to work daily.
I decided to mourn Bill two nights a week. The rest of the time I would start my book on Ulster County, New York. It would be called Stories from the West Bank of the Hudson River (1660-1939) - Another View.
By this time I had collected almost 100 books on my subject, about fifty pounds of newspaper articles, historic folders and family books. I have a Burhans Genealogy date 1888 that contains more than 11,000 names and a book by a Brink family historian (early 1900's), both of my Saugerties family. I would combine a young girl's reminiscences of the 1930's Depression with the historic search for her roots in the local history of the early Hudson River Dutch.
It was something I always wanted to do. I knew Bill, my first editor, would have backed me in my project. "Keep it clear and simple and human," I could hear him saying.
It took me nine years to write and Bill was with me all the way. It came out in 2003.
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