In the days when I taught university level marketing, even the FIRST LIVE satellite marketing program (Get the Original Money Making Marketing Course CLICK HERE), I set my eager-beaver students a task. Write a classified or space ad… and report on how it draws and what you did to handle any responses you received. In short, this project, like my teaching in general, was never merely theoretical, detached from reality. It was real! Vital! Truthful… and often, as a result, jolting. In other words, your class project either made money… or it didn’t. Much more than your grade depended on it. For the Money Making Marketing Course to Master Marketing and garner more of the good things of this earth CLICK BELOW The scene of the crime… All my students were adult practitioners, that is people who were already employed in professional positions or worked in home-based businesses or on the Internet. These were people who had a strong and pressing interest in mastering marketing. These students came because they needed to learn the ins and outs of marketing… or else. To such people one had an obligation, a sacred responsibility, to speak honestly, speak candidly, and address their real world concerns. And I did. On one occasion, a bright professional woman (I had lots of them in my classes) had the task of presenting her classified ad to the class… explaining why she wrote the ad she wrote, where she ran it, what the results were, how she followed up the respondents, and (and it was the all-important and) how much money this ad generated. In other words, it was all real-life stuff. She wrote her ad, as instructed, on the chalk board, the better for us to see the words which would shortly be shown as either golden, or dross. Then I became the Joe Friday (“facts, ma’am, just the facts”) of the marketing drag-net. “When did you start running this ad?” (Specific date required.) “Where do you run this ad?” (Specific publication or venue required.) “How many responses did you get?” (Specific number required.) And then the kicker… “How much money did you make… after deducting all actual costs of running the ad and responding to respondents?” (Exact dollar figures required.) The lady squirms… Now the moment of high truth and full disclosure had arrived. What had started as merely a class project had become for the person reporting a matter of life and death. The ad copy, you see, would show whether she had mastered the marketing essentials that either produced bucks… and all that those bucks could buy… or not. Everything was riding on what she reported. And she knew it… Bad, bad, tormentingly bad. I an inveterate reader of body language, and this student’s was typical of those who wish they were in any other place on earth rather than here, the cynosure of every eye in this most unrelenting of classes. Of course I knew she was squirming, mulling over how to disclose and deliver facts which (from that all important body language) were sure to be uncongenial. So… along with every member of the class…. I waited to see what the lady would say and do. And we waited…. Then, at last, she admitted the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth… and it wasn’t pretty. She had run her classified ad six times… had not had a single response… and, of course, and worst of all, hadn’t made a single penny. Now, the lady, this aspiring marketer, stood before her classmates…. abashed, humiliated, at rock bottom, a total marketing failure. Then I told her the first essential truth of marketing: does your dead dog smell? And does it, day by day, smell worse… until the nauseating stench overpowers everything else? The ad copy you produce is like a dog. Its job is to go out, your servant, finding and bringing home what it captures; the quarry that sustains you and gives you comfort, even excess. No dead dogs do this… neither do ads which fail to produce responses. The student began to get the picture. Her ad hadn’t pulled and yet she continued to use it, paying good Yankee dollars to do so.. despite the fact she KNEW the dog was dead, stinking. Why had she done this? First, because she was sure, absolutely sure, Her Ad Was Brilliant, the stuff of legend… she was invested in the words… certain that given a chance they would produce the desirable results; aged to perfection, like a fine vintage. But that is a huge mistake… and now she was willing, and the entire class with her, to find the essential nubbin of truth, that made everything she had done worthwhile. 1) Marketing copy doesn’t improve with age. It either works at once, immediately, or it never works at all. Dead dogs never become quick and agile again… they just stink the more. 2) ALL marketing copy, at ALL times must be evaluated, starkly , by results and nothing but results. 3) You must never, ever re-run marketing copy without knowing its previous results. 4) The entire business of marketing is about writing copy, testing copy, evaluating the results produced by this copy, then tweaking the copy to improve it and your overall results. Marketing is and always be an action sport… it is not for the slothful, lazy, or unassertive. More tips ** Never, ever become invested in, beguiled by the marketing copy you create. It either works (producing responses and money), or it doesn’t. Success isn’t everything here… it’s the ONLY thing. ** Never re-run ANY marketing copy until you are certain it works; that is, until you have money in hand. ** Trash your erroneous but deeply felt belief that you can find marketing copy which is so good, so responsive that you never have to change it, never have to do anything else with it than run it and reap perpetual rewards. Such copy doesn’t exist, never existed, and will never exist. Marketing is the most active sport in the world. Those who win at this sport, and the rewards can be staggering, are, to a person, people who are bold, active, engaged… not sleepy-heads hoping against hope that they will find and eternally profit from a few magic words artfully strung together. Those words have never been written. Play the Marketing Game to Win with the Money Making Marketing Course => Go NOW to: http://www.drjeffreylant.com/money-making-marketing.html Thus, energize yourself for the marketing you must do today, for if you want the rewards of marketing you must master and remain focused on and dedicated to the unrelenting truths of marketing. Otherwise you are hunting with a dead dog… a dog that will never produce results. It will simply stink to high heaven. And that will never do. ————————————————— About the Author Harvard educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is the author of over 1,000 articles and 50 books. His well known “Money Making Marketing Course” book and video are well known to entrepreneurs worldwide. Get a Sneak Peak into the “Money Making Marketing Course” and pick up the complete package at: http://www.drjeffreylant.com/money-making-marketing.html
FREE consultation ($150 value). Expert shows you how to make money online.Call (757-647-2886) 24/7 Or Skype me homeprofitcoach NOW! Profit today!” Your success guaranteed.http://www.HomeProfitCoach.com/?rd=kr2fDPDb
But I went for the cream, not the milk, on this trip to New York, and walked away with seven pieces of highly desirable antique silver. What’s more, each piece was acquired at below the low estimate. Each and every one, that is to say all four were as reasonably priced as one could wish, always allowing for the fact that one had to pay something.
My Sotheby’s representative was astonished that all four of my acquisitions came in at below the low estimate. “How did you do that?”, she asked. No cat could have purred a better response.
Thus, this report from the silver lining is a testament to my modus operandi: how to acquire more for less.
First of all, this desirable outcome can only be the result of prolonged study and application. In short, you have to know what you’re talking about. And it has taken me any number of years, plus any number of silver catalogs, from all the major auction houses across the world, to feel reasonably confident that I cannot be completely humbugged, and that, from time to time, I may be fortunate enough to outsmart the experts… which happened with these four pieces.
So, let us review my bounty.
First, four silver salad bowls by William Fountain (1819), fluted, the centers engraved with arms, marked on sides below rim. 67 oz 15 dwt; 2108.6 g; diameter 10 1/4 in; 26 cm.
This period of English silver is called Regency, after the Prince Regent, later George IV. Every element of the fine arts is stylish and in your face during the Regency. It is almost impossible to buy a bad artifact from the Regency, though many have tried (quite successfully too). And for those of you who have your lunch salad out of a styrofoam container, eat your heart out.
I shall be feeding milord and his lady with subdued, unmistakable splendor. By the way, the arms you see on these bowls are those of Neville impaling Cornwallis. You will remember Lord Cornwallis, who surrendered to the Americans at Yorktown, thereby ending the revolution. I hope his salad bowls cheered him up.
My second acquisition is a George II Silver Salver, Edward Feline, London, 1734; circular with lobed border, engraved with strapwork border and arms in a baroque cartouche; marked on base; 16 oz 10 dwt; 516 g; diameter 9 3/4 in; 24.8 cm; the arms are those of probably Aiton quartering Campbell, impaling Bottell, Fraxine or Ponsonby.
This dish is part of a set, dating from 1734, about the time English silver begins to be the envy of the world. Lovely, isn’t it? When you pop by, I shall be sure to show it to you.
My third acquisition is a Queen Anne silver salver on foot, Jacob Margas, London, 1706; plain circular on trumpet foot, engraved with contemporary arms in baroque cartouche; marked on surface and foot; 15 oz 10 dwt; 485 g; diameter 9 3/4 in; 24.8 cm.
The thing you must keep in mind about silver from the reign of Queen Anne (1665-1714), is that it is valuable simplicity. At the Court of Queen Anne, people tried to impress each other (as they always do at a royal court), but it was impressing each other with how little decoration they could get away with, not how much.
Anne herself was a plain spoken woman, burdened by too much weight and the death of every child she ever conceived (13). But she knew who she was, and what people say is that the silver from her time is real, actual, not overwhelming, but always valuable.
My fourth acquisition is my only one from this auction from the Victorian age. It is a stunning inkwell, so emblematic of the age in which it was produced. It is heavy, impressive, in your face, bombastic… a thing to be reckoned with, used by the paterfamilias, whose desk in the library it would have graced, saying the the world, “Here’s a good English gentlemen, a man of money, reputation, and stern consideration.” Here is a description:
A Victorian silver large inkstand, Benjamin Preston, London, 1832; on four scrolled shell feet and with bold rococo borders; the central seal box supported by two fully-modeled eagles and topped by a taperstick, fitted with two silver-mounted cut-glass jars; marked throughout; 74 oz weighable; 2301.4 g; length 15 in; 38.1 cm.
I shall enjoy placing this stunning object, for it deserves our full attention. It will join what some are now calling the largest collection of inkwells in the world, and perhaps it is… after all, I know a good thing when I see it, and have snapped up any number of inkwells, a suitable emblem for writers, don’t you think?
All three volumes of Treasures From The Lant collection can be found on Dr. Lant’s author page at: http://www.amazon.com/author/jeffreylant/
About the author
Now 70, a bonafide septuagenarian, Harvard educated Dr. Lant looks upon his much favored life with happiness and joyful acclimation. Author of nearly 60 books and well over 1,000 articles, this is a man who knows how to tell a story and tell it well. To see his complete oeuvre, go to www.drjeffreylant.com.
There, you will also find details on our Guaranteed Future Millionaire Club. You’ll certainly want to join us.
Today’s auction at Sotheby’s in London of European ceramics, silver, and objects of vertu showed me, as usual, front and center. As I sat by the telephone waiting for my auction representative at Sotheby’s to call, I considered what traits you must necessarily possess to build a valuable collection and asset.
First, you must be constant in your task. Whether you like it or not, you cannot let an auction go by, for that may be the very auction in which the best deal of your life could appear. It happens all the time, especially to those who are assiduous, like I am.
Second, you must always be in pain. Ardent collectors know exactly what I mean. To build a valuable collection means extending yourself and popping up in the red at regular intervals. In other words, no pain no gain.
Third, you must be regular in your auction view, general research, and overall education in your field. You cannot say you’re a collector if the last thing you purchased was five years ago in a flea market.
Fourth, you must want to astonish the rubes. One of the main reasons for collecting is to awe people who do not have your taste, sophistication, talent for skullduggery, and strategy. They need to see what you have done, and you need to be magnanimous in showing your brilliant work, after all, you have been assiduous, efficient, and determined, and your friends and neighbors should be given the opportunity to say so.
Now, having said all this, I welcome a new object in my family… this 17th Century silver dish. Now think for a second at how much water has gone under the bridge since 1659, when Johann Hofner of Nuremberg fashioned this bold and in-your-face composition.
For one thing, this period of European history found every King and Elector in constant war and thus in unending financial distress. What do you do when you need to pay the restive troops before they sack your palace? Why of course, melt every silver object you can see, and melt them quickly, since the money is overdue.
The melting of 17th Century European silver was erratic but thorough. Very few pieces of worth got through this periodic culling of valuable silver and gold objects. What you’re looking at in this plate is one very lucky example of something that survived.
Now the last thing I need at this precise moment in my life is another valuable thing. In the next few weeks, nearly 50 lots of astonishing European artifacts of all kinds are arriving from London, just in time for Christmas. If I were a lazy man, a slothful man, a man inclined to self-satisfaction, or any other derelict collector, I would say “Ho ho ho” and declare that enough is enough, at least for now.
However, I am of the obsessive genre who goes just a little further, whether money is readily available or not, and whether I “feel” like going through the aggravation (for there is always aggravation in acquisition).
To achieve the best, to achieve the impossible dream, one must push one’s self, like it or not. And that is why I was sitting at my end of the telephone line to London just a few hours ago, in the dark, in the cold, for Londinium is 5 hours earlier than Cambridge, and this was a morning auction (from my standpoint).
But it was all worth it. And so, a piece of rare 17th Century silver, dazzling, blinding, brilliant workmanship, finds a good home and a respite for its own constant travels, for you may be sure this stunning object has been atraveling throughout its long, lucky life. It has, for now, arrived at a comfortable locale, and that is enough for today.
A German parcel-gilt embossed silver dish, Johann Hofner, Nuremberg, 1659-60; the undulating border chased with flowerheads around a further central example between leaf scrolls, underside later engraved L.J.K.; 17.5cm, 6 3/4 in diameter; 115gr, 3oz 14dwt.
There are now three volumes of “Treasures from The Lant Collection”. Dr. Jeffrey Lant, Founder
About the author
Now 70, a bonafide septuagenarian, Harvard educated Dr. Lant looks upon his much favored life with happiness and joyful acclimation. Author of nearly 60 books and well over 1,000 articles, this is a man who knows how to tell a story and tell it well. To see his complete oeuvre, go to www.drjeffreylant.com.
FREE consultation ($150 value). Expert shows you how to make money online.Call (757-647-2886) 24/7 Or Skype me homeprofitcoach NOW! Profit today!” Your success guaranteed.http://www.HomeProfitCoach.com/?rd=kr2fDPDb
Picture if you will what I must have been like in the fall of 1970. I had come across The Pond from Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I was enrolled as a student at Harvard, and as soon as I arrived in Oxford, I was swept up into the happiest of situations.
Literally minutes after I hit Oxford, I knew at once like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. My dear friend William Powers Ingoldsby picked me up at the train station, scrutinized me carefully, then he flung out his instructions like a general barking orders. “Your hair must get cut! Your clothes are suburban American and absolutely unacceptable! You need black tie for a party I’m taking you to tonight.”
The race was on. Could money and just a little time succeed in taking away the paltry East Coast veneer and turn me into an English gentleman? What a challenge! Oh yes, and one more thing. He handed me a copy of “Brideshead Revisited” (1945) by Evelyn Waugh. In this book, a classic, Lord Sebastian Flyte tootles around Oxford in an ultra chic sport coupe accompanied by his teddy bear Aloysius, for all the world to see, lounging in the back seat of the car… giving appropriate levels of greeting to his particular friends, snubbing the rest.
Ingoldsby looked at me upon arrival and demanded “Where is your teddy bear?” I was abashed. Having been somewhat spruced up, I was taken to the residence of Mrs. Margaret Macmillan. As a distant cousin, she took it upon herself to tutor me in the why’s and wherefore’s of a system designed to be esoteric and eccentric. Yes, designed to trip up all those who could not maneuver all the arcane boundaries and conditions.
Upon arrival at Mrs. Macmillan’s residence, we found a summer collation was awaiting. A few minutes thereafter, I had a vision which has remained with me always. Her name was Lady Harriet Bligh, daughter of the Right Honourable Earl of Darnley, in the 3rd creation.
She was lovely, absolutely lovely and I adored her on sight, not just for how she looked, but how she talked. All good aristocrats specialize in creating language that hoi polloi can never master. She swung into the dining room like a perfume touched breeze, expecting to be noticed, expecting to be loved, and I loved her on sight.
Lady Harriet, however, did not have eyes only for me. “I’ve just come back from Rome,” she trilled. “I lived with three gay boys in an apartment on the Spanish Steps. It was such fun… the parties never stopped.” I was now smitten, sure that I would never see anything more beautiful in face or words than she was.
Mrs. Macmillan pulled me up sharp. I was not there to pick up aristos. I was there at her behest, so that she could teach me about The Family.
Thus my hostess began moving quickly to her insights into my distant cousin Harold Macmillan (1894-1986). He was the head of the family Macmillan and had fulfilled an exalted destiny. He had served over and over again in top government offices, including Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and more, moving steadily up the ladder towards 10 Downing Street.
Finally, in 1957, he became Prime Minister, serving until 1963 when medical problems intervened. It is stated that he had a prostate problem, which may or may not have been benign. In any event, he stepped down when he did not need to do so. Upon his retirement, he became the Earl of Stockton… the last British Prime Minister to receive a hereditary peerage.
His achievements were laudable and universal. For instance, on February 3rd, 1960 before the South African parliament in Cape Town, he gave what became known as the “Winds of Change” speech. In it, he told the world that the winds of change were blowing over Africa with such turbulence that the British Empire was destined, and quickly too, to melt away, as the independence of Ghana had already shown in 1957. And that, as a result, the great colonial enterprises of France, Portugal, and Belgium would soon be gone.
It was one of the most important speeches ever given to humankind. For Harold Macmillan was saying most of all that this great transfer of power involving millions of people could be done without massacres, massive dislocations, or rancor; that it could be done, and honorably for all concerned.
Mrs. Macmillan touched on the high points of Cousin Harold’s achievements, but what she particularly expatiated on in a whisper with a touch of malice was the scandalous menage of Macmillan’s wife, Lady Dorothy Cavendish (1900-1966), Robert Boothby (1900-1986, later Baron), and himself, the cuckold.
Nothing shows us more clearly the difference between England and America than how this top level affair was handled for utmost discretion, minimal public notice, and embarassment.
Lady Dorothy Cavendish came from the richest family of the English aristocracy. Her father was the 9th Duke of Devonshire. The noble house had started on its way through the astute manipulations of Bess of Hardwick, one of the shrewdest women in history. Bess often married, always game for another matrimonial knot, so long as the lands that accompany the deal were broad, fertile, and rich.
Over the course of centuries, the Cavendishes gobbled all. Their touch was infallible. The grandeur of their possessions, breathtaking. The Cavendishes had everything, and thought they always would have. Like many women in such positions, her actions were more like a man’s than a woman’s, and when she wanted something, she got it.
What she wanted during this period of her life was the amorous embraces and caddish behavior of Robert Boothby. He might have been Prime Minister himself. However, he preferred Lady Dorothy’s adulterous clutches, but not to the extent of eschewing a string of macho men. Of these, the principal was Ronald Kray, a gangster who (allegedly) supplied Boothby with young men and arranged orgies in Cedra Court, receiving personal favours from Boothby in return. What a muddle.
So let us be sure we understand the players and their complicated relationship to each other… a description like this certainly helps. First, there was Cousin Harold, of the internationally known publishing house Macmillan, the family business. Then, the almost fantastic jump for this descendant of impoverished Scottish crofters to the perfumed sheets and ostentation of Lady Dorothy Cavendish, the only daughter of the 9th Duke.
Thence to her indiscriminate paramour Robert Boothby, who was called “the Palladium”, because “he was twice nightly.” He was gifted with prodigious energy, and no discretion whatsoever. He brought into the picture Ronald Kray, gangster and the good friend who happily took time from his illegal endeavors to assemble a daisy chain of young males whose high spirits always made Boothby happy. In return, Kray received personal favors from Boothby.
Error or destiny
Mrs. Macmillan, British lady, would not, I know, have pulled back so much of the veil. Her task was to see what kind of Macmillan I was, not to dig deep in the cesspit of aging lovers and their startling concupiscence. Was I to be a member in good standing of the Macmillan clan, or just a young man who passed on the horizon en route to another destiny altogether?
That’s when I had to make a life changing decision. You see, I was in those dim distant days English to the very core, quaffing her culture, her manners, her mores, every aspect of her affairs, glorious or tawdry. And in this euphoria, I ran for the most important office in the Student Representative Council in St. Andrews, Scotland, where I resided for a year in 1968. That post was representing The Faculty of Arts, the largest part of the University.
My victory was astonishing and overwhelming, and immediately opened the discussion about whether I should become a British subject. I knew I could gain election to the House of Commons. And being an American, I knew I should become a national figure in record time. What should I do?
The pressure only increased when I was elected to the Scottish Conservative Party Conference, another feather in my cap. It is hard for me today from this distance from the event to know just how I felt. But I know this: I might so easily have become a Member of Parliament, even a peer of the realm. Heady thoughts, indeed.
Of course, I went back to America where in short order I graduated from Harvard University with a history degree, well aware that I might have made my own history. Sadly, I never met Harold Macmillan, which would have been so easy to do. Today, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment… but there was some residual shyness which I must acknowledge, though I do not like the notion at all.
However, Cousin Harold entered my life yet again in a very interesting way. After he became Prime Minister in 1957, he appointed Margaret Thatcher to her first ministerial portfolio as the Parliamentary Undersecretary at the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance. It launched her on her startling world career.
When Britain went to war against Argentina in the Falklands War in 1982, she called upon her mentor, Harold Macmillan, to advise her on how to make war. He did. She did. The victory made her.
That I think was the reason why, when I was invited to the unveiling of her official statue for the House of Commons and told her Harold Macmillan was my cousin, she drew herself up to her full height of 5’5″, straight and unyielding as a ramrod, only to say “He gave me my first ministry,” a pronouncement followed by a kiss… and may I say, it was not a kiss of symbolism or politeness, but a true kiss, immediately followed by her pulling my head to her shoulder.
The hundreds of people at the London Guild Hall could not believe their eyes, for the Iron Lady’s kiss she gave was not the kiss of peace, but a true and authentic one. I owed it to Harold Macmillan.
All of this came back to me today when I placed my newest Macmillan object. It is a thank-you note from Harold Macmillan and the now Lady Dorothy Macmillan, dated April 21, 1920, their wedding day.
The frame I selected for this marvelous piece was purchased at Shreve, Crump, & Low in Boston. The piece is autographed by two famous people committing to a marriage that was impossible for either to keep, and which was only maintained because of the acute discretion and care of the British political and newspaper establishment. It’s a beautiful little piece, don’t you think, a gem?
I was lucky to find this double autographed memento of two people connected through the vicissitudes of DNA to me, the guardian of this dazzling, lustrous objet d’art. It all came alive for me today, when I looked at this splendid piece and thought how completely unpredictable destiny and deoxyribonucleic acid can be.
The music I have chosen for this piece is “Bye Bye Love” (1957), written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant and performed by the Everly Brothers. Its lyrics are telling no matter your social standing.
“Bye bye love
Bye bye happiness, hello loneliness
I think I’m-a gonna cry-y
Bye bye love, bye bye sweet caress, hello emptiness”
About the author
Harvard educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is well known internationally for his trenchant and lyric articles, now over 1,000 in print, along with 61 books. He brings you inside the story and makes often dull events come alive with color and significance. Be sure to sign up for his list so that you can receive regular information and special offers. You can do so by going to www.drjeffreylant.com.
BOSTON, APRIL 15, 2013. TOO PAINFUL TO REMEMBER. TOO IMPORTANT TO FORGET.
That is your glory. Now get on about your work, for the hour is late. The task is important and must be done without delay.”
“Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind”
(“For whom the bell tolls” by John Donne)
The music that lightens your load, one tear at a time.
I was just nine the year I saw my first photos of brave souls playing the ultimate game, betting they could toss a Molotov cocktail with such precision that they could
dismember a tank before that tank could dismember them.
The pictures of this murderous duel were blurred,grainy and distorted. But I knew that the great game for freedom was afoot and that somehow and certainly I was involved.
I knew even then that the bell tolled for me and that I could not ignore it, though there was every temptation to do that. I had yielded to the blindness that is temptation, always transient and unfulfilling, whatever promises it may make.
But the inexorable bell kept tolling and would not be denied…
When it became known the Boston Marathon murderers were in my neighborhood, their next deadly objective not yet clear but sure, the police authorities protected us
by dismantling our freedom. It was called “lock down”, prison talk, no term of liberty.
It may have been necessary, but it was also unsettling to those who have heard the eloquent and most persuasive arguments used for stripping us of liberty, once forfeit, never returned, soon yearned for, forever yearned for, without success or method of
restoral or redemption.
The voice I heard was stern, authoritative and brooked no argument. “Citizens, stay in your homes. Stay away from all windows. Do not attempt to come out until further
instructions are given.” Could they possibly mean me, too, author, commentator, unprejudiced fly on the wall, the man making clear for tomorrow what was happening today?”
Then in the most chilling voice ringing out with these words,
“Dr. Lant, this means you.”
Yes, I was ordered by name. I pulled my hand from the door knob as if it was fiery hot and wondered why I was specifically ordered. I wonder still.
Two days later I tried again, remembering to take the stairs from the penthouse.
What a jolting shock to see a tank nestled in the grass outside my residence…. surrounded by the greatest university on Earth and its proud symbols and sun-kissed insignia, as well as by the temples filled with people who wondered, who begged for the sign which was not given.
I saw the tank, and I saw, in my mind’s eye, the freedom fighters of Hungary give everything for a single shot at the machines which shattered everything, leaving a proud and ancient nation in devastation and lamentation.
And I cried out, sobbing for what we had already lost and the more we would be sure to lose, in the grim and pitiless days to come…. Thus did spring come to Boston in 2013 when the flowers of hope and renewal were at their most beautiful and beguiling.
Why did God leave us so, head bowed, knees in the mud, rancor and
acrid bitterness in our soul? Why?
My recollection of those somber days when life and its paths were altered forever are fading now. I feel a terrible and pressing responsibility to the truth which must not be allowed to expire.
We all have became more mistrusting and wary with similar incidents occurring worldwide.
The rain has washed, the snow has covered, the heat has baked, a million steps have ground all evidence; into the good earth which has dealt with so many outrages before and will do so again.
Maybe this is God’s way after all, submission and resignation being
His tools, though so difficult to make ours. You must judge for yourself
as you review the pages that follow, remembering “No man is an island.”
“ALL SPARKLING WITH DEW”… SPRING AND ITS FLOWERS RETURN TO CAMBRIDGE, 2016: FLOWER POWER VOL.1
After an experience of coming near to death and being left hardly able to walk, this became a most sobering period of my life, without question.
As a result of my caution and the possibility of another crippling fall, I retreated from so many of my favorite haunts and focused on the written word, which I more easily control, for I am the master of the lyric voice, and I never needed it so much, after I lay sprawled, concussed, isolated, and in despair.
One day, a few months ago, I finally decided to test my abilities by reverting to some of my usual habits and dispositions. I seized my cane, took the elevator to the ground floor, and resolved I would walk to the Sheraton Commander Hotel for breakfast, as I so usually used to do.
It is only a few short blocks from my residence, and I so often enjoyed noting the progress of the plants, while enjoying the plethora of various weathers, a particular joy and consternation in New England. Yes, I loved to check the progress of the fast emerging flowers along my way, progress I never failed to note. It was always good to see them.
But this time I had to stop at every step and place my foot just so, so I would not fall; pausing to ascertain my progress, my hands secure on the guardrail, my feet awkwardly arranged on the steps. I moved slowly, deliberately, unsure yet certain I must do this, or never walk again.
I walked a half a block or so, and then I faltered, saying “Do not overdo what you mean to do, for you have been so immobile for so long now, and must consider every step you take, and realize what another fall might do.”
I paused outside my residence, trying to convince myself that I could not proceed, that I was not ready to proceed, that I dare not proceed, for fear of all that could transpire. Then there it was, nestled against the brick pavement, a dandelion, its bright yellow arresting my attention, the first I had seen this year.
It spoke to me from its perfect beauty, disdained by so many, but not by me. It said, “Your Excellency,” for that is my proper style, “You can do this, you must do this. You may shut yourself up in opulence and luxury, but one breath of cool fresh air is worth a king’s ransom to you now.”
I faltered just a bit, and then, in the most courageous thing I have ever done, I took one step towards my destination, and resolved that come what may I would walk out this day, and exchange greetings with the world, which had missed me, as I had missed it.
I made my destination and had shown myself and the world what I might still do with the help of a dandelion, which winked at me as I ambled home, and said, “Godspeed, Your Excellency, now you know what you can do. That is a very good thing to know.” This is the power of flowers, and I had known it all my life.
The flowers of springtime in New England are the happiest and most welcome flowers of all.
They confirm, you see, the bitter winter with its arctic winds, and its blizzards that stab you on their way are gone, gone, all aspects of the frigid and disconsolate past, gone. Now, is our patience, our tenacious patience, rewarded by a beauty that asks for nothing more than cheerful recognition and acknowledgement. This book, in three chapters, celebrates some of this needed beauty, thereby lightening your burden.
HOW TO WRITE ABOUT FAMOUS PEOPLE THAT YOU KNOW: WRITER’S SECRETS VOL.1
However, today, I take you to a whole new level. Never done before, I will show you how to master every aspect of writing so that you will know what to do, when to do it, how to do it. And, I will give you helpful models so you can see how I do it.
In no educational institution with which I am familiar can you learn every essential point of what it takes to be a successful, that is to say, a money-making writer.
Hitherto educators in the field of writing have simply said “To be a writer, one must write.” This fatuous advice is neither useful nor productive. One needs to know more, and more again about writing before showing that writing to anyone.
Once you’ve read the volumes in this series, you will be amongst the elite of the Earth, because good writers get all the goodies, name recognition, esteem, veneration, and, of course, money. For let us never forget, that “None but a blockhead writes but for money” (Dr. Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, inventor of the first English language dictionary).
I am tired of meeting people, particularly young people, who have been given that useless advice… to be a writer, one must write. In these pages, I shall show you the verities of writing, and the facts which will advance you… or, should you fail to use them, destroy any chance of your success.
As we begin this exciting series of absolutely unique and unprecedented volumes, I want you to know that my goal here is cosmic, exhaustive, thorough, inventive, and powerful. By following these steps, and not the vagaries of any previous
instruction you may have had, you will find yourself awash in trophies… including fame, notoriety, affection, appreciation, awe, recognition, honor, and certain reverence.
For all these, and so many other benefits, can and must be yours, if you will but understand the structure of successful writing, and work for a lifetime to perfect your skills. You see, the world loves writers, and I, therefore, love the world. For so many years now that I cannot even remember, writing has been my unstoppable rocket, matched by nothing else.
You say, upon being asked, “What do you do for a living?” The response launches the beneficial process… “I am a writer.” And by that we mean superior, intelligent, clever, shrewd, inventive, creative, and for the nonce, charming to a degree no average mortal can even wish for, much less attain.
I shall be attending you every inch of this fabulous journey. For now you have an advisor of note, dexterity, inventiveness, truth, and may I say it, love. For seeing you advance will be one of the glories of my life. And I shall say as I see you rise, “This one came from me!” Be that one.
Now let us begin. The topic of this first volume is not just writing, but writing about famous people you know. I have started with what could be construed as an advanced class because once you master this, you will be able to gain
access and commendable results from any famous person in the universe.
You will never say, if you have ever said, and might truly say, that you have nothing to write about… like a woman going to a closet full of gowns and saying “I have nothing to wear”. You will never say again, having mastered this chapter, that you have nothing to write about. Master these guidelines, and fly high…
“WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS.”: A STORY OF WEALTH, OBSESSIONS, AND THE EMPEROR’S RANSOM COLLECTED AND DISPERSED BY CHRISTOPHER FORBES, CONNOISSEUR.
and what happened that memorable day? I do.
The day the worldly effects of my paternal grandmother
were being auctioned.
I might have had as much as $10 to conjure with. However with so
many items selling for two bits it was adequate. Adequate.
That’s pretty much how I described my available funds, never
excessive, never hopeless either. If I’d had more, I may have been
careless; while less might have killed my ambition and motivation.
But “adequate” was just right.
I purchased a walnut table, still proud when polished, is in my bedroom where the
flair is Empire. But I just cannot dispose of it. It would be like
smothering an old and dear friend.
Storage, an act of love.
When I left for Harvard, he packed my youthful purchases, along with so
many items I just couldn’t give to Good Will. And so for over 30 years the
items slept, until just the other day when I opened the boxes and snuffled
just a little, the contents of each meticulously noted in his perfect copper
Do you believe in love at first sight? I do… every connoisseur does… and very much to the point of our story Kip Forbes does. Consider…
He was just 16, and en route to adventure in his father’s latest yacht,
“Highlander III”. St Tropez and la dolce far niente were the objective…
It was a Jerry Mungo moment, “In the summer time when the weather’s
high….” (1970) Love was in the air, or if not love at least an acute
indiscretion and memories for a lifetime.
He entered a small antiques shop the way we all do, with the possibility that there would be a certain something you would know at once. Jane Morgan set this feeling
to music “It was fascination I know, and it may have ended there at the
start., just a passing glance, just a brief romance, and I might have gone
on my way empty hearted…” and so Kip experienced the gnawing feeling
of desire, of an object so tempting him, he had to save it, and to get it had
to persuade his father what a good investment the picture of Napoleon III
Connoisseurs are prone to use such arguments, saying whatever
needs to be said to acquire the object in question. What does strict truth
and precise morality have to do with beauty, history, and the thrill of
possession? And so Jean-Hippolyte Flandin’s imperial portrait came
to live chez Forbes for a half century, sold just the other day at the
That picture seized the boy’s imagination far more than the usual
aspects of St. Tropez and launched a quest that, in the final analysis,
revived the Emperor’s reputation and that of la belle France.. Where
there had been a black hole in the center of French history, Kip Forbes
did what was necessary to revive and resurrect. When he shouted “Vive
la France” he meant it, and he had done everything to make it happen.
Now it’s time to take the voyage and see the treasures built up for over fifty years, now dispersed.
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Excerpt from the Introduction:
One Fall day, when I was a student at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, a small party of my closest friends and I undertook to go out in the twilight fast falling, and see what we might see of the opening in the Earth’s crust where every sort of noxious, evil, malevolent creature was waiting to come forward and populate the night scene with doom and despair.We found ourselves in a small village, not a soul on the street, not a soul to be seen… but in one place: the cemetery. The cemetery was heavily overgrown with vegetation, heavy moss, and strangulating plants. The very aura of the place made us want to cross ourselves and implore “I beg of Thee, O Sweet Jesus, that at the hour of my death, Thou wilt show me mercy.”
There was something lurid about this place of the dead. And then we saw it. On an overturned tombstone, bright with creepers, this message: “Not Dead But Sleepeth”. At once, we felt sure that that was a message for us to retire as quickly as possible back to the haunts of man, who craves the congregation of our still quick neighbors.
I have never forgotten that day, the haunted aspect, the omnivorous plants, the overturned tombstones, and the frightful possibilities which we saw clearly might emanate from such a place where death stands forth each Halloween and the aspect for all is frightening.
This is Halloween, and this, my book, is composed of stories that make it all explicable. Halloween is an acknowledgment that evil exists, and that evil is daily in confrontation with God and the Cosmos. Thus, each All Hallows’ Eve, October 31st, the door to Hell swings open on rusty hinges releasing a terrible smell of burning flesh and brimstone, Prince Lucifer’s luxurious perfume.
The doors to Hell swing open, bit by bit releasing the unlimited number of sad and woebegone creatures packed within 364 days a year, and released to carry on their noxious work. It must be done before midnight of the next day. And so smart people stay locked behind closed shutters, holding hands, singing psalms, and praying to God Almighty for relief, mercy, and absolution. For if the Devil is around this night, God is surely around as well.
All Hallows’ Eve, most fervently celebrated by the Celtic peoples of Europe, is an indication that the great war between good and evil, between God and the Devil, is not finished yet. God ascends in triumph for all but 24 hours of the year. In these 24 hours, every transgression, every sin, every malevolence, is not only imaginable, but visiting your neighborhood to see who could be wooed to attend the macabre dances of Prince Lucifer, where burning flesh is the prevalent scent, because fire is the prevalent instrument.
We of course wish to think nothing on this terrible event which comes to call so many, and returns no one at all. Their motto: “Not Dead, But Sleepeth”. And they wake up with a vengeance and a purpose on All Hallows’ Eve.
This book offers five Halloween tales, each of which is intended to take you into this curious holiday, where the real meaning has been filtered out, leaving nothing besides sugar and delusion.
We start with the way Halloween was when I was growing up as a boy in Illinois, 60 years ago and more. In my role as a cultural historian, writer of many articles and books about human behavior and its various manifestations, I felt it my bounden duty to publish this story and show you what Halloween was like in bygone America.
The next tale deals with Ichabod Crane, a famous American character from Washington Irving and the Hudson Valley School of Literature. It makes Halloween come alive, although most of it is actually dead.
The next article deals with the quintessential Halloween fruit (yes, fruit), pumpkins. This tale takes you deep into the whys and wherefores of pumpkins, which come into this world with a clear objective: to frighten us to death when they are turned by deft carving into jack-o-lanterns, the fruit of our bizarre imaginations, and the pumpkins’ ability to portray them. Kicking a pumpkin to death is technically akin to “Get thee behind me, Satan”. Thus, those vandals who disrupt our coy holiday motifs may actually be doing God’s work. It’s a thought.
We carry on into the matter of witches. The Bible is very clear on the matter of witches and all types of sorcery:
“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 18:9-12)
One aspect of Halloween which we wish not to consider is the matter of witches and their related colleagues in the black arts. We do not wish to believe what our ancestors so fervently believed… that witches are certainly here, that they communicate with the Devil, and are the handmaidens of his dark hours and purposes.
Finally, we end on a lighter note. It was not my intention to include this article, but Kris McNamara, my helper, said “Of course you must address the issue of candy. What do you think Halloween means to most people in the neighborhood and the nation. It means your God-given right to stuff yourself.”
Think for a moment, of who benefits from the candy avalanche in your neighborhood. Dentists cheer. Candy companies hold riotous parties on Halloween night, when profits zoom. People making flimsy costumes that mock evil, and make it seem it is a matter of children, when in fact it is a life or death matter for everyone.
So candy sweetens the brimstone, and perfumes the fire of flesh. Oh yes, I forgot to tell you… the Devil owns 100% of the stock in every chocolate and candy company around the world. He sells the costumes. He even charters the dentists, whose enamels are so easily chipped by the excessive intake of fructose.
So who is the Number One beneficiary of All Hallows’ Eve? Prince Lucifer. Remember, Lucifer was God’s right hand man before he was banished from Heaven, and he left with every skill he ever had, including making sure that no one is really frightened by his works, when in point of fact, they should be on their knees begging for mercy.
You see, Lucifer is a clever public relations executive. He wants maximum dollars for minimum work… a true entrepreneur. If he came out and ordered his gruesome minions to frighten the entire population, he would not be able to maintain his comfortable, lucrative occupation.
Who sweetens the candy? Lucifer. Who designs the fetching wrappers, which catch your eye? Lucifer. Who puts the children on the streets to collar as much deleterious sweetness as quickly as possible? Lucifer, of course. So now today, I tell you this: this is Lucifer’s day, and whatever you do, look carefully at every label. His expansive inventiveness will be apparent in everything pertaining to this long-standing tradition called All Hallows’ Eve, Halloween.
And when the crevice in the Earth, which opened to release the ghouls, begins to close on rusty hinges, you may be sure that all the loot that Satan has cleverly amassed in such a short time is on its way to its final destination… the bottomless coffers of Prince Lucifer.
“Our God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come” (from the hymn “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past ” by Isaac Watts. 1719).
This version is performed by Westminster Abbey.
Get your copy of “Tales of All Hallows’ Eve, Halloween”
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LYVI08C
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Author’s program note.
You know why there are so many people not getting ahead in the world? Oh, there are plenty of “reasons” that the non upwardly mobile give, like…
The boss doesn’t like you.
You are a corporate blabbermouth.
You are always pestering the boss for a raise.
You come and go like the wind to suit yourself, never being able to make the deadlines required.
You’re inclined to mouth off, when “mouth in” would make a hell of a lot more sense.
Your cubicle in the office is so dirty, rats exclaim “Eureka!” when they arrive after you’ve gone home.
Oh yeah, there are plenty of excuses that are holding you back. But one, if you absorb, will move you ahead like a space rocket. That is… take the hit.
The first rule of life within a corporation or other business entity is that the leadership must be allowed to lead. And as sure as God made little green apples, when they lead they are going to make mistakes. I want to tell you a whopper mistake that almost blew up the nuclear bomb. That was the run up to the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1972.
It has been my horror to review the private records of President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy. These boys were scared. Let me give a for instance. The archival papers are filled with one ongoing theme: the demand of the Kennedy brothers to the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Cuban revolutionaries that none of them tripwire the operation and let the genie out of the bottle, rather making sure that no one in and around the White House could possibly be blamed should anything go wrong. But of course, nothing ever would, right?
Mama mia! Now think for a second about what was going on. You had military personnel being told they’d blow the whole operation should any part of it become public. Well let me ask you something. Mr. Reader. If someone asked you whether a bunch of warriors could get from the Caribbean or Florida to Cuba and keep it all quiet, this is what you’d say… “Orville, that is downright the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. You can’t keep these people under wraps with duct tape on their mouths.” In other words, plausible deniability was the stupidest assumption the President of these United States ever made.
But Kennedy knew one thing… something you learn when you grow up in a family as big as his. There must always be a Plan B, which is Alfred E. Newman’s well known line… “What, me worry?”
And so, when the Bay of Pigs fiasco blew up with everyone and their brother predicting the end of the world through just one tidy A-Bomb or two, Kennedy acted. Not to clear the decks, not to tell the truth, not to make up with Khrushchev (kiss kiss), but CYA.
And the poor schlepper he dumped on was Adlai E. Stevenson (1900-1965), Ambassador to the United Nations.
Stevenson was in a bad place. The President was telling him the United States was not involved in this Bayside fiasco, but Stevenson was hearing from everyone and their brother that not only were we involved, we were leading the parade. What’s a body to do?
Find a dodo, and drop the hit right square on his head, just the way Kennedy did with Stevenson, and the way Bush ‘41 did with General Colin Powell (maybe there’s something in the water down there at the United Nations; it certainly is unpleasant enough).
I can very well imagine Stevenson’s plight in those days approaching Armageddon. On the one hand, he is told from the White House, “Don’t worry, we didn’t do anything”. And on the other hand, every information source that made itself available to him (he didn’t have to go far) told him that he was being lied to by his President, the President of the United States, liar.
Kennedy and Stevenson didn’t get along as it was. Kennedy despised Stevenson, after all, he had been crushed in the 1952 presidental election by everybody’s favorite boy scout, Dwight David Eisenhower.
And then if that wasn’t enough, he went and got himself crushed in the 1956 election by that same boy scout, the hero of Europe, and cute to boot.
Stevenson infuriated him further. In 1960, when he allowed his name to go forward for the Democratic nomation for President, Eleanor Roosevelt
kept the waters roiling by pushing for Stevenson – again! Stevenson had no chance in 1960 (frankly, he didn’t have a chance at any time), but his candidacy signalled to the left wing of the Democratic party that they just couldn’t stomach Jack Kennedy on any terms.
Now this is a moment tailor made to make everyone unhappy. Eleanor Roosevelt, the matriarch of the party, couldn’t stand Kennedy. Not only was he too young, but he didn’t revere Mother Roosevelt nearly as much as she thought he should. And as long as she was calling any shots on the left wing, and as long as she kept Adlai in the race, old man Kennedy and his brood lived in a state of barely supressed rage.
Now you can imagine once they screwed up the invasion, how desperately they needed a scapegoat. That scapegoat had Adlai E. Stevenson written all over it.
And now we come to his problem, and yours.
President Kennedy realized that if he accepted responsibility for the Bay of Pigs invasion, his standing in the international community, not to mention rural America, would plummet. But since Adlai E. Stevenson was entirely disposable, the Kennedys kept him dangling on a string until they decided what was the best way of slitting his throat.
What was going on?
Just this: Kennedy couldn’t afford to take the hit, and so he threw Adlai Stevenson to the crocodiles. Now this wouldn’t have been quite as bad as it was if Jack Kennedy had sweetened the pie just a little bit, and given Stevenson what he really wanted – to be Secretary of State.
That would have involved kicking Dean Rusk out of Foggy Bottom, and giving him something like, say, the Ambassadorship to Trinidad. But Rusk was Kennedy’s boy, and Stevenson wasn’t. Therefore, Kennedy just forced him to take the hit, but gave him nothing for it but a Hallmark card that said “happy happy”.
Of course in retrospect, Kennedy should have given Stevenson anything he wanted, as long as it didn’t involve Washington D.C. or Mrs. Roosevelt, for they all cordially hated each other by now.
So what’s the lesson to be learned here, the one that can make or break your corporate career? Whenever possible, and whenever your boss has screwed up, let him know you’ll be glad to take the hit.
I’ve got a friend who needs to learn this lesson yesterday. He thinks nothing of fighting back when the boss says “Do X.” And my friend says, “Wait a minute, we agreed on Y.”
Now maybe the boss and my friend did or didn’t agree, but that is not the important thing. The important thing is to take the hit for the boss, and come back in a reasonable time (like 2-3 days) and claim your goodie, and not do what my friend cannot cease doing – lifting his fist, looking right in the boss’s eye, and saying “This is what we said. Are you saying we didn’t?”
Many corporate careers have been broken (or made) at this moment. Everybody knows the big boss makes mistakes, sometimes it’s some real whoppers like the Bay of Pigs, which almost wiped out the whole planet. But we all know that the big boss cannot take the hit, and so an alternative must be connived.
Most people in most businesses spend a considerable amount of their time yapping about how lame and stupid the big boss really is. They may actually believe it, or they may just be saying so to pass the time of day and indicate that they are just an ordinary guy or gal. But you’re not ordinary. And that’s why at all times, you must be prepared to move with events, not just stand by and look at them happening.
When the boss needs you don’t hide under your desk or stand on the sidelines kibitzing, go and proclaim to him that you are available to help right now… and then do so.
Every leader in the world needs loyal followers. There is nothing more loyal than falling on your sword… so long as you know that you will rise like the phoenix in short order, with your leader’s enthusiastic assistance.
Now, while others scratch their heads about whatever actually happened, you’ll know because you’ve been a part of securing the glorious administration of leadership of the man or woman who calls themselves your boss. As a result, you will move up fast. Oh, even faster if you gather together all documents pertaining to the incident in question.
Sadly, Adlai Stevenson didn’t have it in him to do this. And this clouded his last years on Earth. He must have wondered how different things might have been if he submitted, at a moment of his choosing, all the private documents in question. Why, Mr. Julian Assange, the leader of Wikileaks, could have told him how sweet that is. Just watch your back.
About the author
Dr. Jeffrey Lant is well known worldwide for his insight into corporate events, leadership, personnel, etc. He is the author of over 60 books, and over 1,000 articles on a wide variety of topics. He is known for telling it like it is.
To get access to all of Dr. Lant’s many ideas, projects, programs, books, and materials, go to www.drjeffreylant.com. Don’t try to do all of this alone when you have such superior assistance available right now.
She wasn’t up to Harvard standards, she was not a woman of education, not a woman of merit, and most important, NOKD, “Not our kind, dear.” As these words, written and implied, rolled out, I knew in my bones that come hell or high water, I would be present, in full regalia, to honor the lady and what I knew would be her message of hope, inspiration and empowerment.
And so yesterday, on the unexpectedly hottest day of the year, I went back to Harvard, on the day of my own 43rd graduation anniversary… to show solidarity, support, good manners and discerning judgement. And no one cheered her more loudly and with greater sincerity than I did… for I recognized that this was not merely an event to honor a single woman, no matter how deserving of such honor. But far more important to honor the sisterhood and their gentle revolution, an epochal event that changed the world and liberated not just women but men, too, for the liberation of women has certainly meant the liberation of men, though not all such have recognized this yet.
Before I go on I want to take this opportunity to introduce you to the principal players in yesterday’s production. First, there is Mr. Aime’ and Mrs. Mercedes Joseph, born in Haiti, two of the principal reasons why my life works so well and smoothly. I took them to Commencement to thank them, to show them an aspect of Americana they would not otherwise see, and, frankly, because it is easy to trip and fall amidst the undulations of such a huge crowd… and their support was very useful indeed.
Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard University, Lincoln Professor of History.
Sandra Demson, ’58, distinguished attorney in Canada, veteran of the revolution.
Diane Neal Emmons, Ed.M., an old friend rediscovered, another soldier for the cause, her weapons of choice her wit, ebullience, and an optimism that will not waver, despite the provocations life throws at each of us, delighting to see what we will make of them.
As a social scientist, student of the material world in all its manifestations, I should not believe in such matters as destiny, providence, or kismet. Should not. But when a day arranges itself as felicitously as yesterday’s did, the right things happening in just the right order, one is forced to consider the inconvenient notion that something other than random chance is present, “inconvenient” because unpredictable, though that doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Yesterday’s serendipities were anything but…
Since I arrived at Harvard in the fall of 1969, I have passed through the great Class of 1877 Gate thousands of times. But when I passed through it yesterday I was patted down by a female security officer. It is a sign of our times, a blip that tells us the world has changed, and not for the better. Once inside a recollection from “Gone With The Wind” came to mind. It was at the beginning of the film, where the newly engaged couple, Ashley and Melanie, stand on the balcony of Twelve Oaks and look out at their world of grace, luxury and privilege, a world they love, threatened with destruction whether the South wins or not.
I stood for a moment, just next to the president’s office in Massachusetts Hall and looked at the vibrant scene before me. It, too, is challenged, roiled by even positive change… I was determined to see, determined to remember what I saw this day and what was part of me: class marshals in top hat and cut-away; their female counterparts wearing bright red rosettes with bright smiles to match; academic gowns from every renowned and prestigious university on Earth; new graduates wearing the most desirable costume of all, their unflinching youth. They would shortly sing “Gaudeamus igitur, Juvenes dum sumus” (Let us rejoice while we are young.) They would not understand… but the alumni before them would… for the words, once just lyrics of a well-known song, gather their profound meaning with every passing year in an exercise we call wisdom and which we cannot approach unmoved.
Rubbing for luck.
Every alumnus becomes perforce a guide when escorting guests to Commencement, and so, hobbling, I lead the Josephs to the statue of John Harvard, the Founder. Only it isn’t. There are no extant images of the man whose gift of books, lavish as all gifts to Harvard should be, launched the greatest educational establishment on Earth (1636).
What to do? Improvise! And thus a suitably attractive young man of noble countenance from the class of 1884 was invited to pose for the famous statue by Daniel Chester French. It stands in the center of the Yard, the faceless Founder facing eternity in the body of flawless youth. Both have thereby been immortalized, and this is perhaps why one is advised to rub the shoe for luck… for seizing eternity is certainly worth the doing. This is something every Harvard student knows.
When you talk of The President in Cambridge, you mean the President of Harvard. It was my privilege to share a few minutes conversation with the current occupant yesterday, Drew Gilpin Faust, president since 2007. An historian herself, she is a person of history; the first woman to lead Harvard. Let me tell you this: she is well and truly on her way to becoming one of the most respected and beloved leaders of this historic institution and thus one of the great benefactors of the Great Republic and the wider world beyond, for Harvard is universal now and forever more.
When you think of President Faust think of what has happened to and in the world since her historic appointment. You will then understand she has presided over six turbulent years, years when even Fortress Harvard knew anxiety. If she never did another thing, she would find an honorable place in Harvard’s story. But at just 65, she is in her prime… ready to do battle for the light. What will she do? Here’s a clue to one of her projects…
In her remarks yesterday she drove home one essential point; that the impending massive cuts in federal research funding are short sighted, self destructive, ill advised in every way. Research is what gives us the improvements we desire; slicing any part of it gives us less. Does this make sense?
President Faust will ensure Harvard’s clout is used to avoid this folly. And she has my support in doing so. Just as she will always have my support in any and all endeavors to strengthen the liberal arts and humanities, always the great beating heart of Harvard.
“Is this seat taken?”
There were just three seats left in about the fourth row, and I knew we should grab them. But first I needed a positive response to the question asked through the ages: Is this seat taken? And so I came to meet a new friend, Sandra Demson, Class of ’58. She had come to participate in the 55th Reunion of the Harvard and Radcliffe Classes of 1958. I introduced myself and in just a minute or two we were chatting like a house afire, discovering one person after another we knew and had in common. Harvard meetings are like that.
However, the most important aspect of our conversation concerned my questions to Sandra about the differences she discerned in the situation of Radcliffe students in 1958 and the position of women undergraduates today. And here a pleasant afternoon’s smooth conversation became more than chat, an insight into history, something she wanted to tell… and I very much wanted to hear.
You see, Sandra Demson, smart, attractive, charming, was part of the generation which placed every aspect and feature at the foot of Man… and lived to regret it, like so many other women who not only discovered father didn’t know best; they discovered that father knew hardly anything at all… and this made for many problems, ructions, and difficulties, especially when Man continued to insist upon a superiority he clearly did not possess.
And so Sandra, like every “good woman” of her age and outlook learned to carry on, bite her tongue, and somehow keep the faith alive, that better days, and lasting love, too, would come to her. And, in due course, “this too shall pass” passed… And God granted her marital love, peace, and the easy, “woman of the world” manners which we have all erred in not insisting our young successors should have and which she graciously shared with me on this sweltering day.
It was Sandra Demson who looked at Oprah and said, “She’s nervous. She’s trembling”… No wonder. A poor black girl from the Deep South,had by dint of unceasing work, determination and an attitude of “must” not just “can” do had scaled the heights into the very citadel of American prestige. There she was, physically smaller than her outsized television presence, quivering just a bit but the crowed roared for her… and so the lady of embracements, hugs and love, was soon awash in the huzzas which must have been heard blocks away. In a very real sense, Oprah Winfrey had come home, and she was greeted accordingly.
When the tumult ebbed a bit, Oprah began. Soon, just in passing, she mentioned a tune she loved. I looked it up when I got home and immediately understood her better as well as why she’d referenced it, holding it close, a security blanket. It is “We’ll understand it better bye and bye”. Written by Charles Albert Tindley (1851-1933), an ex-slave and “the Father of Gospel Music”, it is a rousing, barn stormer of a song, the lyrical equivalent of Oprah herself. Go now to any search engine and listen carefully…”We are tossed and driven/ on the restless sea of time… We will understand it better bye and bye.” I prefer the inimitable version by Mahalia Jackson. Listening to this mistress of godly soul, you can believe, deep in your heart, that better times will come as they came to Oprah Winfrey.
Then Oprah told us how they came to her, what she learned, what she had to do… and what she had to share with others. She spoke, like a female Polonius, of being true to thyself, of living your own life, not the life assigned to you or allowed by others. She spoke of the commitment one must make, the unceasing focus one must maintain. And she spoke of what must be done in the inevitable days when troubles come and one faces the reality of dread and defeat. This was not mere eloquence, though the lady excels at eloquence. It was not mere rhetoric, though the lady’s rhetoric is notable… no, indeed. Instead she was speaking from what the world knows as her great heart… so motivational, so inspirational, so uplifting that along with her massive crowd of the eminent, learned and well connected, I was on my feet, not just cheering, but shouting approbation and encouragement… yes, Oprah had come home…. and for the lady who loves there was ample love
My day was, I thought, over and completely successful. Aime’ and Mercedes Joseph had given support. President Faust impressed and reassured. Sandra Demson gave charm and friendship. Oprah gave the formula not merely for success, but how to conquer failure. It was enough, more than enough, but there was more….
Leaving the Tercentenary Theatre, Oprah whisked away by the omnipresent security, I saw a face I knew so well… and it was Diane (always pronounced Dee-On), Diane Neal Emmons. And so serendipity continued, unpredictability its metier, for here was a long-lost friend, benefactor when I was a penurious graduate student, forty years ago, success in the future, but when? Diane and her legendary hospitality helped make waiting bearable. This time she invited me to her home for the 4th of July celebrations when the known world gathers in her front yard to extol the Great Republic. I may even go… for there is a story there… and I want to be the one who tells it, for only thus will we “understand it better bye and bye…”
Oprah Winfrey turned me on to “Understand It Better Bye and Bye.” It is easy to see why she liked it. It is upbeat, toe-tapping, praise God music, written by the Rev. Dr. Charles Albert Tindley (1851-1933). You’ll enjoy it. Play it whenever the world and you are at odds.