Betty MacDonald's sister Alison Bard Burnett
Betty MacDonald's mother Sydney with grandchild Alison Beck
Betty and Don MacDonald in Hollywood
Alison Bard Burnett - and Betty MacDonald fan club fans,
Betty MacDonald had to suffer a lot because of jealousy and hateful comments.
Although The Egg and I was so popular after publication in 1945 and sold over one million copies within a year Betty got several letters from obviously very jealous women.
I totally agree what Monica Sone said about the subject for example:
Feeling jealous can be handled in a positive or negative way. It can stimulate you to work hard to get what you want or one could hold on to jealousy and feel emotionally unhappy.
Do more women than men feel emotionally unhappy?
I can't imagine that women in a democratic country vote for a guy like this.
To me it's really a shame!
Whatever their explanations, the underlying fact remained: his disrespect for women — his evident understanding of them as property or props — simply did not matter. Or, at the very least, did not matter enough.
I can understand very well that Barbara Streisand, other artists and several of my friends want to leave the United States of America.
I ask myself: What would Betty MacDonald have done after such a result?
What do you think?
By the way Hillary Clinton won popular vote and would be the winner in many democratic countries all over the world - but not in the United States of America.
To imagine his cabinet!
For example Sarah Palin, who believes that climate change is a hoax, is reportedly being considered for Interior secretary.
To me it's like the start of the fifth season.
The "fifth season of the year" as Carnival is called, begins on November 11th at 11:11 a.m. But the real "crazy days" do not start before the so-called Weiberfastnacht (Shrove Thursday), the Thursday before Rosenmontag (Carnival Monday). The "crazy days" of Carnival are celebrated with parties on the streets, in public squares and in pubs. Closing times for pubs and bars are suspended for the duration of the festival.
I got these experiences when I visted my German friends in Cologne in 2016.
The fifth season only lasts a few months but afterwards it's normal again.
I'm afraid this will be very different in the United States of America.
To me this result is a joke - but a VERY, VERY bad one!
Daniel Mount wrote a great article about Betty MacDonald and her garden.
We hope you'll enjoy it very much.
I adore Mount Rainier and Betty MacDonald's outstanding descriptions
Can you remember in which book you can find it?
If so let us know, please and you might be the next Betty MacDonald fan club contest winner.
I hope we'll be able to read Wolfgang Hampel's new very well researched stories about Betty MacDonald, Robert Eugene Heskett, Donald Chauncey MacDonald, Darsie Bard, Sydney Bard, Gammy, Alison Bard Burnett, Darsie Beck, Mary Bard Jensen, Clyde Reynolds Jensen, Sydney Cleveland Bard, Mary Alice Bard, Dorothea DeDe Goldsmith, Madge Baldwin, Don Woodfin, Mike Gordon, Ma and Pa Kettle, Nancy and Plum, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and others - very soon.
It' s such a pleasure to read them.
Let's go to magical Betty MacDonald's Vashon Island.
Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund and Betty MacDonald fan club research team share their recent Betty MacDonald fan club research results.
Congratulations! They found the most interesting and important info for Wolfgang Hampel's oustanding Betty MacDonald biography.
I enjoy Bradley Croft's story very much.
Don't miss our Betty MacDonald fan club contests, please.
You can win a never published before Alison Bard Burnett interview by Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel.
This CD is a golden treasure because Betty MacDonald's very witty sister Alison Bard Burnett shares unique stories about Betty MacDonald, Mary Bard Jensen, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Nancy and Plum.
Do you have any books by Betty MacDonald and Mary Bard Jensen with funny or interesting dedications?
If so would you be so kind to share them?
Our next Betty MacDonald fan club project is a collection of these unique dedications.
If you share your dedication from your Betty MacDonald - and Mary Bard Jensen collection you might be the winner of our new Betty MacDonald fan club items.
Thank you so much in advance for your support.
Thank you so much for sending us your favourite Betty MacDonald quote.
More info are coming soon.
Wolfgang Hampel's Betty MacDonald and Ma and Pa Kettle biography and Betty MacDonald interviews have fans in 40 countries. I'm one of their many devoted fans.
Many Betty MacDonald - and Wolfgang Hampel fans are very interested in a Wolfgang Hampel CD and DVD with his very funny poems and stories.
Linde Lund is delighted that Wolfgang Hampel presented one of her favourite songs with his outstanding voice.
Thank you so much dear Wolfgang Hampel!
You made her day!
We are going to publish new Betty MacDonald essays on Betty MacDonald's gardens and nature in Washington State.
Tell us the names of this mysterious couple please and you can win a very new Betty MacDonald documentary.
Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli is beloved all over the World.
We are so happy that our 'Casanova' is back.
Another rare episode (from March 21 1952) of the short-lived comedy soap opera, "The Egg and I," based on best selling book by Betty MacDonald which also became a popular film.
The series premiered on September 3, 1951, the same day as "Search for Tomorrow," and ended on August 1, 1952.
Although it did well in the ratings, it had difficulty attracting a steady sponsor. This episode features Betty Lynn (later known for her work on "The Andy Griffith Show") as Betty MacDonald, John Craven as Bob MacDonald, Doris Rich as Ma Kettle, and Frank Twedell as Pa Kettle.
Betty MacDonald fan club exhibition will be fascinating with the international book editions and letters by Betty MacDonald.
I can't wait to see the new Betty MacDonald documentary.
Letizia Mancino is reading from her delightful book ' The cat in Goethe's bed '.
I hope beloved Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli will be there too.
We'd like to meet our beloved darling.
Have a great Friday - weekend is near!
Let's be positive - although we are living in very difficult times.
Wolfgang Hampel - LinkFang ( German )
Betty MacDonald fan club
Betty MacDonald forum
Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English )
Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) - The Egg and I
Wolfgang Hampel - Academic ( German )
Wolfgang Hampel - cyclopaedia.net ( German )
Wolfgang Hampel - DBpedia ( English / German )
Wolfgang Hampel - people check ( English )
Wolfgang Hampel - Memim ( English )
Vashon Island - Wikipedia ( German )
Wolfgang Hampel - Monica Sone - Wikipedia ( English )
Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( English )
Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( French )
Wolfgang Hampel - Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle - Wikipedia ( English)
Wolfgang Hampel in Florida State University
Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel
Betty MacDonald fan club interviews on CD/DVD
Betty MacDonald fan club items
Betty MacDonald fan club items - comments
Betty MacDonald fan club - The Stove and I
Betty MacDonald fan club groups
Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund
Heide Rose and Betty MacDonald
Donald Trump’s Potential Cabinet Includes Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, Sarah Palin
By Sierra Marquina
President-elect Donald Trump’s potential Cabinet may include Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie and Sarah Palin, Politico reports.
The controversial businessman, who was elected the 45th President of the United States in an unpredicted turn of events on Tuesday, November 8, is expected to hire those who stayed by his side throughout his campaign.
Palin, who believes that climate change is a hoax, is reportedly being considered for Interior secretary, while New Jersey Governor Christie, who ran against the POTUS-elect and previously criticized Trump for acting like a “13-year-old” and for being “thin-skinned”, is being considered for Homeland Security secretary, Attorney General and Commerce secretary. Christie dropped out of the race after the Bridgegate scandal. The politically-motivated closing of The George Washington Bridge nearly ended his political career after some felt Christie cruised under the radar while leaving his staffers to take the blame.Former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani has also been thrown in the mix for Attorney General. Along with Gingrich, Christie and Palin, Politico reports that Trump is also considering Forrest Lucas, the 74-year-old founder of Lucas Oil, for Interior secretary.He is also reportedly eyeing Goldman Sachs veteran Steven Mnuchin as Treasury secretary and Republican politicians including Senator Bob Corker for Secretary of State and Senator Jeff Sessions for Secretary of Defense.
The former Apprentice host previously teased he would announce his selections for Cabinet during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
While Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr.’s name has also been floated around for a possible cabinet position, the POTUS-elect can’t hire any of his children due to anti-neoptism laws. That said, he still bragged that his daughter Ivanka Trump would make a perfect Cabinet member due to her popularity.
“Well, there are so many different ones to choose,” Trump told a reporter when asked which women he’d place in Cabinet. “I can tell you everybody would say — ‘Put Ivanka in! Put Ivanka in!’ You know that, right? She’s very popular, she’s done very well.”Trump met with President Obama for the first time on Thursday, November 10. Obama welcomed the POTUS-elect to the White House, telling him: “Most of all, I want to emphasize to you, Mr. President-elect, that we now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed—because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.”Their meeting was concluded by Trump calling Obama a “very good man.”
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This Is How Much America Hates Women
And hovering over all of those beliefs is a stark truth: the way Donald Trump has talked about, allegedly acted toward, and fundamentally conceived of women is the way that the majority of Americans conceive of women. Call it “locker room talk,” call it “just the way it is,” or call it by its true name: misogyny. In electing President Trump, the nation has ratified a backlash that has been gaining slow but terrifying steam just beneath the surface of the recent feminist resurgence.
No matter the endorsements for Hillary from Beyoncé and Rihanna and Katy Perry and Lena Dunham, or the hundreds of thousands of posts in “secret” Hillary support groups, which increasingly feel like tragic melodrama, the underlying fact remains: As a nation, we remain firm in the notion that women should not control their own reproductive health, that men should retain the liberty to judge and touch and control women’s bodies at will, and that the idea of a woman in power neutralizes any concerns over a neo-fascist future of the nation.
Over the last month, I talked to hundreds of female Trump supporters about their candidate’s treatment of women, and the message was always a variation on the same theme: It does not matter. Some women told me that their husbands spoke to them like Trump — that they’d think something was wrong with them if they didn’t. Others suggested that Trump may well be a letch — but that, at age 70, he’d simply run out of the capacity to act on it. One sixtysomething woman told me that getting grabbed was a way for her to know she was still desirable.
Evangelical women said he disgusted them — that he wasn’t Christ-like, that he wasn’t a believer, that he might not even be moral — but they had to vote platform, e.g. anti-abortion. Well-dressed, high-class women in the suburbs underlined that they didn’t believe everything that he said, but they loved Ivanka — whose classiness helped wash the more trashy aftertaste of Trump out their mouths. Whatever their explanations, the underlying fact remained: Trump’s disrespect for women — his evident understanding of them as property or props — simply did not matter. Or, at the very least, did not matter enough.
Trump’s disrespect for women — his evident
understanding of them as property or props — simply
did not matter.
And part of that status quo is patriarchy: the notion that women will continue to be second-class citizens, subject to men’s understanding of what they should be able to do, touch, and grab when it comes to their bodies — and legislate and punish when it comes to their actions. I’m not suggesting these women have some sort of false consciousness — that they think they’re empowered, and actually aren’t — I’m stating that they fundamentally think disempowerment is okay, so long as they maintain their other (white, straight) sources of privilege. Tavi Gevinson starkly referred to this swath of voters as “white women who hate people of color more than they like having rights to their own bodies.” Many women fail to recognize Trump’s explicit stances and policies towards people of color and Muslims as “hate,” but I know no more appropriate word for what Trump voters have signaled in terms of how non-white, non-Christian, non-straight people should be treated.
That pre-feminist understanding of womanhood has collided with and been exacerbated by the first female major-party candidate for president — a second-wave feminist who has spent her public career inflaming insecurities about what a woman should look, sound, and act like. The hatred that’s accumulated around her can be attributed to many factors — to increased dissatisfaction with political insiders, or rage at the reality of globalism — but the underlying trigger is, at heart, her gender.
It’s not that Clinton’s a soft woman, or even a shrill woman, so much as a sneaky woman: That’s what is at the heart of the investment in her private email server, and the investigation of the Clinton Foundation, and the suspicion that she, along with her confidante Huma Abedin, have conspired to hide a grand, dark — yet ultimately undiscoverable — truth from the American people. For many, that’s the real, if unconscious, fear: that women will take, women have been taking, the reins of power, the keys to the system, the position of the presidency.
At the heart of all of this perceived duplicitousness, after all, is Clinton’s unrepentant ambition. It’s Clinton’s defining character trait: Her understanding of her worth is so strong that she’s refused, at every point in her life and career, to let men define her. When her husband stood on stage at the Democratic National Convention, for example, and recounted when he “met a girl” in 1971, it was ultimately a story of a woman so driven and sure of her value that the former president, a man of similar ambition and intellect, had to find a way to fit into her life, not the other way around.
For Hillary supporters, this approach felt like a clarification of purpose: Yes, many said, this is the type of woman, the type of boldness, the expansiveness of vision we desire. But that approach seems to have backfired, as the constant reminders of Clinton’s intellect, ambition, experience, and self-worth served to stoke the fires burning her effigy. Such attributes are only valued by this country, after all, when they apply to men.
Matriarchy isn’t the fear. Rather, it’s the idea that women will define their own value, and their own futures, on their own terms — instead of by terms men have laid out. Put differently, that each gender, each individual, will have the power to determine their own destiny. To slightly modify the old bumper sticker, it’s the radical notion that both men and women are people.
That’s what Hillary implicitly promised with her candidacy, and that’s what voters have soundly rejected. The articulated ambivalence of many Trump voters varies from “I just couldn’t vote for Hillary,” to “I’m a straight party Republican,” from “He’ll have good advisers,” to “If he raised Ivanka, he can’t be that bad.” But the message remains steady: Fear of a female president, and all that she represents, is tenacious enough to neutralize overt bigotry, xenophobia and racism — and manifest misogyny.
In the wake of the election results, a section of Jessica Valenti’s book Sex Object keeps returning to mind: “Given all that women are expected to live with — the leers that start when we’ve barely begun puberty, the harassment, the violence we survive or are constantly on guard for — I can’t help but wonder what it all has done to us,” she wrote. “Not just to how women experience the world, but how we experience ourselves. I started to ask myself: Who would I be if I didn’t live in a world that hated women?”
What might we be? Perhaps women wouldn’t go to college fearing the statistical inevitability of sexual abuse. Perhaps we might be women liberated from the persistence of unequal pay for equal work. And perhaps we might gradually cease to calculate our value based on our ability to regiment our bodies into a highly circumscribed understanding of beauty. Those of us who are nonwhite, queer, fat, disabled, trans, or immigrant might not just be told that we’re equal citizens, but perhaps even experience life as such. Perhaps, if we didn’t live in a world that hated women, we might not live in fear that a male superior will sexually harass us and force us to make a decision between our integrity or our careers.
We might, in other words, experience something like freedom. And from there, the ability to navigate the world in a posture that is not defined by hesitancy and fear.
But for all of that, America has decided, we must wait.
Never underestimate how much America hates women
The tone wasn’t angry, exactly. It was posted with the same seething resignation we had when we clocked the outrageous entitlement of a man who groped women whether they wanted it or not. Or every time someone called Hillary Clinton a bitch. The sheer number of Americans who would vote for Donald Trump caught progressives by surprise, but the onslaught of misogyny this election season appears to have reached an utterly logical conclusion.
It all boils down to: Misogynists are fine by Americans. Women in power are not.
We can’t say we didn’t see this coming. We saw it in 1992, when Clinton got dragged for defending her choice to work, when voters thought of her as the “overbearing yuppie wife from hell.” We saw it in 2008, the last time Clinton ran for president, when Hillary nutcrackers appeared in airport gift shops even as she was criticized for tearing up at a campaign stop (once! She cried once!). We saw it in the way people—both men and women, both conservatives and progressives—have always scrutinized her voice, her laugh, her clothes. We saw it in the jarring invective of Trump voters talking about Hillary in those videos roiling with the raw anger of a Trump rally; they wanted to jail her, beat her, assassinate her.
Many of us were fired up by this swirling hatred. Feminists gleefully warned bigoted relatives on Facebook: “Donald Trump will feel the rage of women on November 8.” Clinton used Trump’s words against him in debates and on the stump, again and again and again. But for every outraged woman, there were others—especially white women, a majority of whom who voted for Trump on Election Day—who bent over backwards to make excuses for their candidate. New York magazine quoted a woman as saying, “I like getting groped! I’m heterosexual. I’m a woman, and when a guy gropes me, I get groping on them!” Another woman featured in the same article was turned off by Bill Clinton’s affairs; the voter didn’t “understand how [Hillary] can say she respects women when she doesn’t respect herself.”
Many of us weren’t surprised that a certain type of white man losing his footing in a new America would rather not vote a woman into power, the type of white man whose racism is so strong that they’d support a candidate beloved by white supremacists over one who embraced the melting pot. But this election reminded us that women are deeply entrenched in sexism and racism, too.
A Donald Trump presidency will have real-world consequences for women if he keeps his campaign promises, starting with the appointment of a right-wing Supreme Court justice who would overturn Roe v. Wade. But there’s a far less tangible insult here, too. It’s not just that Americans are willing to overlook unfathomable depths of misogyny. It’s that they actively rejected a woman who represents the opposite. Until the very last minute, we all underestimated just how far we haven’t come.
New York Times, November 9, 2016:
The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle won't take a bath cure is my favourite one. www.bettymacdonaldfanclub.blogspot.com/
Following in Betty’s footsteps in Seattle:
or some small talk with Betty
Copyright 2011/2016 by Letizia Mancino
All rights reserved
translated by Mary Holmes
We were going to Canada in the summer. “When we are in Edmonton”, I said to Christoph Cremer, “let’s make a quick trip to Seattle”. And that’s how it happened. At Edmonton Airport we climbed into a plane and two hours later we landed in the city where Betty had lived. I was so happy to be in Seattle at last and to be able to trace Betty’s tracks!
Wolfgang Hampel had told Betty’s friends about our arrival.
They were happy to plan a small marathon through the town and it’s surroundings with us. We only had a few days free. One should not underestimate Wolfgang’s talent in speedily mobilizing Betty’s friends, even though it was holiday time. E-mails flew backwards and forwards between Heidelberg and Seattle, and soon a well prepared itinerary was ready for us. Shortly before my departure Wolfgang handed me several parcels, presents for Betty MacDonald's friends. I rushed to pack the heavy gifts in my luggage but because of the extra weight had to throw out a pair of pajamas!
After we had landed we took a taxi to the Hotel in downtown Seattle. I was so curious to see everything. I turned my head in all directions like one of the hungry hens from Betty’s farm searching for food! Fortunately it was quite a short journey otherwise I would have lost my head like a loose screw!
Our hotel room was on the 22nd floor and looked directly out onto the 16-lane highway. There might have been even more than 16 but it made me too giddy to count! It was like a glimpse of hell! “And is this Seattle?” I asked myself. I was horrified! The cars racing by were enough to drive one mad. The traffic roared by day and night.
We immediately contacted Betty MacDonald's friends and let them know we had arrived and they confirmed the times when we should see them.
On the next morning I planned my first excursion tracing Betty’s tracks. I spread out the map of Seattle. “Oh dear” I realized “the Olympic Peninsula is much too far away for me to get there.”
Betty nodded to me! “Very difficult, Letizia, without a car.”
“But I so much wanted to see your chicken farm”
“My chickens are no longer there and you can admire the mountains from a distance”
But I wanted to go there. I left the hotel and walked to the waterfront where the State Ferry terminal is. Mamma mia, the streets in Seattle are so steep! I couldn’t prevent my feet from running down the hill. Why hadn’t I asked for brakes to be fixed on my shoes? I looked at the drivers. How incredibly good they must be to accelerate away from the red traffic lights. The people were walking uphill towards me as briskly as agile salmon. Good heavens, these Americans! I tried to keep my balance. The force of gravity is relentless. I grasped hold of objects where I could and staggered down.
In Canada a friend had warned me that in Seattle I would see a lot of people with crutches.
Betty laughed. “ It’s not surprising, Letizia, walking salmon don’t fall directly into the soft mouth of a bear!”
“ Betty, stop making these gruesome remarks. We are not in Firlands!”
I went further. Like a small deranged ant at the foot of a palace monster I came to a tunnel. The noise was unbearable. On the motorway, “The Alaskan Way Viaduct”, cars, busses and trucks were driving at the speed of light right over my head. They puffed out their poisonous gas into the open balconies and cultivated terraces of the luxurious sky- scrapers without a thought in the world. America! You are crazy!
“Betty, are all people in Seattle deaf? Or is it perhaps a privilege for wealthy people to be able to enjoy having cars so near to their eyes and noses to save them from boredom?”
“When the fog democratically allows everything to disappear into nothing, it makes a bit of a change, Letizia”
“ Your irony is incorrigible, Betty, but tell me, Seattle is meant to be a beautiful city, But where?”
I had at last reached the State Ferry terminal.
“No Madam, the ferry for Vashon Island doesn’t start from here,” one of the men in the ticket office tells me. ”Take a buss and go to the ferry terminal in West Seattle.”
Betty explained to me “The island lies in Puget Sound and not in Elliott Bay! It is opposite the airport. You must have seen it when you were landing!”
“Betty, when I am landing I shut my eyes and pray!”
It’s time for lunch. The weather is beautiful and warm. Who said to me that it always rains here?
“Sure to be some envious man who wanted to frighten you away from coming to Seattle. The city is really beautiful, you’ll see. Stay by the waterfront, choose the best restaurant with a view of Elliott Bay and enjoy it.”
“Thank you Betty!”
I find a table on the terrace of “Elliott’s Oyster House”. The view of the island is wonderful. It lies quietly in the sun like a green fleecy cushion on the blue water.
Betty plays with my words:
“Vashon Island is a big cushion, even bigger than Bainbridge which you see in front of your eyes, Letizia. The islands look similar. They have well kept houses and beautiful gardens”.
I relax during this introduction, “Bainbridge” you are Vashon Island, and order a mineral water.
“At one time the hotel belonging to the parents of Monica Sone stood on the waterfront.”
“Oh, of your friend Kimi!” Unfortunately I forget to ask Betty exactly where it was.
My mind wanders and I think of my mountain hike back to the hotel! “Why is there no donkey for tourists?” Betty laughs:
“I’m sure you can walk back to the hotel. “Letizia can do everything.””
“Yes, Betty, I am my own donkey!”
But I don’t remember that San Francisco is so steep. It doesn’t matter, I sit and wait. The waiter comes and brings me the menu. I almost fall off my chair!
“ What, you have geoduck on the menu! I have to try it” (I confess I hate the look of geoduck meat. Betty’s recipe with the pieces made me feel quite sick – I must try Betty’s favourite dish!)
“Proof that you love me!” said Betty enthusiastically “ Isn’t the way to the heart through the stomach?”
I order the geoduck. The waiter looks at me. He would have liked to recommend oysters.
“Geoduck no good for you!”
Had he perhaps read my deepest thoughts? Fate! Then no geoduck. “No good for me.”
“Neither geoduck nor tuberculosis in Seattle” whispered Betty in my ear!
“Oh Betty, my best friend, you take such good care of me!”
I order salmon with salad.
“Which salmon? Those that swim in water or those that run through Seattle?”
“Betty, I believe you want me to have a taste of your black humour.”
“Enjoy it then, Letizia.”
During lunch we talked about tuberculosis, and that quite spoilt our appetite.
“Have you read my book “The Plague and I”?”
“Oh Betty, I’ve started to read it twice but both times I felt so sad I had to stop again!”
“But why?” asked Betty “Nearly everybody has tuberculosis! I recovered very quickly and put on 20 pounds! There was no talk of me wasting away! What did you think of my jokes in the book?”
“Those would have been a good reason for choosing another sanitorium. I would have been afraid of becoming a victim of your humour! You would have certainly given me a nickname! You always thought up such amusing names!” Betty laughed.
“You’re right. I would have called you “Roman nose”. I would have said to Urbi and Orbi “ Early this morning “Roman nose” was brought here. She speaks broken English, doesn’t eat geoduck but she does love cats.”
“Oh Betty, I would have felt so ashamed to cough. To cough in your presence, how embarrassing! You would have talked about how I coughed, how many coughs!”
“It depends on that “how”, Letizia!”
“Please, leave Goethe quotations out of it. You have certainly learnt from the Indians how to differentiate between noises. It’s incredible how you can distinguish between so many sorts of cough! At least 10!”
”And also your descriptions of the patients and the nurses were pitiless. An artistic revenge! The smallest pimple on their face didn’t escape your notice! Amazing.”
“ I was also pitiless to myself. Don’t forget my irony against myself!”
Betty was silent. She was thinking about Kimi, the “Princess” from Japan! No, she had only written good things about her best friend, Monica Sone, in her book “The Plague and I”. A deep friendship had started in the hospital. The pearl that developed from the illness.
“Isn’t it wonderful, Betty, that an unknown seed can make its way into a mollusk in the sea and develop into a beautiful jewel?” Betty is paying attention.
“Betty, the friendship between you and Monica reminds me of Goethe’s poem “Gingo-Biloba”. You must know it?” Betty nods and I begin to recite it:
The leaf of this Eastern tree
Which has been entrusted to my garden
Offers a feast of secret significance,
For the edification of the initiate.
Is it one living thing.
That has become divided within itself?
Are these two who have chosen each other,
So that we know them as one?
The friendship with Monica is like the wonderful gingo-biloba leaf, the tree from the east. Betty was touched. There was a deep feeling of trust between us.
“Our friendship never broke up, partly because she was in distress, endangered by the deadly illness. We understood and supplemented each other. We were like one lung with two lobes, one from the east and one from the west!”
“A beautiful picture, Betty. You were like two red gingo-biloba leaves!”
Betty was sad and said ” Monica, although Japanese, before she really knew me felt she was also an American. But she was interned in America, Letizia, during the second world war. Isn’t that terrible?”
“Betty, I never knew her personally. I have only seen her on a video, but what dignity in her face, and she speaks and moves so gracefully!”
“Fate could not change her”
“Yes, Betty, like the gingo-biloba tree in Hiroshima. It was the only tree that blossomed again after the atom bomb!”
The bill came and I paid at once. In America one is urged away from the table when one has finished eating. If one wants to go on chatting one has to order something else.
“That’s why all those people gossiping at the tables are so fat!” Betty remarks. “Haven’t you seen how many massively obese people walk around in the streets of America. Like dustbins that have never been emptied!” With this typically unsentimental remark Betty ended our conversation.
Ciao! I so enjoyed the talk; the humour, the irony and the empathy. I waved to her and now I too felt like moving! I take a lovely walk along the waterfront.
Now I am back in Heidelberg and when I think about how Betty’s “Princessin” left this world on September 5th and that in August I was speaking about her with Betty in Seattle I feel very sad. The readers who knew her well (we feel that every author and hero of a book is nearer to us than our fleeting neighbours next door) yes we, who thought of her as immortal, cannot believe that even she would die after 92 years. How unforeseen and unexpected that her death should come four days after her birthday on September 1th. On September 5th I was on my way to Turkey, once again in seventh heaven, looking back on the unforgettable days in Seattle. I was flying from west to east towards the rising sun.
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