Visiting & Voyeuring, Clapping & Cheering

Mar 7, 2015 | 2 comments

Starring My Cousin Freddy (among others!)

Starring My Cousin Freddy (among others!)

My friend Linda-of-Seattle is the best informed person I know. She is always up to the minute on almost any subject that comes up. I’m not quite sure how she manages, but she seems to have time to see the latest films (but also the oldies) and read up on the stories behind the headlines (local, domestic, and foreign), even as she is traveling to exotic lands and leading a rich cultural life in the big city.

So, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when she sent me a sympathy note about my cousin Freddy’s death last week accompanied by a link to a PBS documentary I’d never heard of: “Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself.” It definitely didn’t surprise me that I’d never heard of it. Even though it came out in May 2014 and Freddy (as George’s first wife and mother of his two eldest children) has a prominent role in it, I had no idea…

So, yesterday morning I spent ‘at the movies’ right here in my office. Never mind that my computer was calling out to get back to a couple of looming deadlines of my own. I was thoroughly enjoying a visit with the past and “re-visiting” with my relatives, Freddy and her grown children Medora and Taylor none of whom I’d seen in a decade or more. And, as icing on the cake there was a glimpse of Willard, himself, at one of George’s infamous cocktail parties at the Paris Review.

Summertime Linda

Summertime Linda

It was a grand peek at the life-and-times of the jet-set that most of us only know by dint of rumor and gossip. I loved the glimpses of the ‘rich and famous’ – emphasis on the famous because mostly they were writers and, with a few notable exceptions, were far from rich. There were some surprises, too, like Ken Burns weighing in. I would not have associated him with George, but of course the fact that he was made perfect sense.

Plus, I loved seeing George on his own turf. I had met him just once – his only trip to Oysterville. We lunched together at the Ark back in 1999. He and Freddy were in the ‘neighborhood’ for Taylor’s graduation from Reed and they nipped up here to pay respects to the family. Willard had died in February and George, standing in the middle of Territory Road in front of the church, remarked, “I just can’t picture Willard here.” I replied, “And I can’t really picture him anywhere else.”

But, of course, I could. We had visited with Willard in New York on many occasions. And, when I was growing up he was part of my life everywhere I lived – in Boston, in Portland, in Berkeley and Castro Valley. We even lunched together once in London. But… I digress. If you want a little taste of how the other half lives, check out the film. You can get it on Netflix or stream it live on your computer.

Meanwhile, I think of Linda as part of that ‘other half’ just like Freddy and George were. (Perhaps it’s the other ‘other half.’) She’s always on a cutting edge that is unknown territory to this Oystervillian. Thanks for keeping me in the know, Linda!


  1. Linda J

    Thank you for those flattering words, Sydney, but you give me WAY too much credit. I always feel like I’m as completely out of the loop as the next unworldly person. And our friend Jean should really get the credit for knowing about “Plimpton!” — she told me about it, and I simply passed the info along to you. I loved the documentary, and since I never met Freddy in person, it was wonderful to see her interviews and also those of her son. And wasn’t it fun to see Willard in the cocktail party photos, along with all the other famous writers of the day?

  2. brigid

    Just finished watching the film. Lucky you having lunch with George and Freddy! Plus, I see the family resemblance between you and Freddy. What fun.


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