Picture it: a fourth grade class. West central Florida. 1974.
The assignment: to write a letter to someone you admire.
Easy enough, right.
There were lots of options for a 10 year old to choose from in those days...
Lee Majors, aka The Six Million Dollar Man
Dusty Rhodes -- The American Dream (the kid in class who we called Helmet Head because of his terrible haircut loved this guy)
Tatum O’Neal, fresh off her Oscar win for “Paper Moon”
Young Jane, however, had other ideas. She took this assignment quite seriously and penned an earnest letter, expressing her admiration for a very unique individual, ending her epistle with a request for a signed photograph.
The recipient of said letter...
Dr. Henry Kissinger.
Nobel Peace Prize recipient.
Secretary of State.
That’s right. I asked one of the most powerful men in the world for an 8X10 glossy. Autographed even.
At age 10.
In return, I received a very nice letter from some State Department underling thanking me for my interest and kindly explaining that Dr. Kissinger was not in the habit of issuing pin-up posters of himself. I still have that letter around here someplace and if I ever come across it, I’ll scan and share. It’s a riot. I’m sure my letter evoked bales of laughter all around that office for a while.
Yeah, I’ll say what I’m sure you are thinking. I was a weird kid. I had a crush on the Secretary of State. Betcha Madeline Albright and Alexander Haig never had a fan like me. Or one for whom a restraining order or CIA file wasn't necessary.
Want more proof that I was totally marching to the beat of my own drummer? During the summer of ‘74, I became enthralled with an amazing, groundbreaking show on the telly.
The Watergate Hearings.
Remember that in those days, cable TV was not around, at least in our household. So we took what we got. And what we got was daily coverage of Sam Ervin and the gang doing their level best to unfold and uncover the details of the hijinks at the Democratic National Committee HQ at the Watergate Hotel. Intersting stuff, even to a young lass like myself.
Loved it. Watched every day I could, even forgoing my usual fare of Petticoat Junction reruns, The Galloping Gourmet and Mike Douglas.
My favorite person in this whole polit-circus: Maureen Dean, wife of White House Counsel John Dean. For some reason, I thought she was SO cool, sitting so calmly behind her husband as he spoke, giving the “cancer on the Presidency” testimony. I spent hours trying to achieve Maureen’s hairstyle -- that severe, slick bun at the nape of her neck. I’m certain my parents were totally befuddled by me -- but bless their hearts, they never let on.
Yep. My own drummer. I’m still fascinated with that period of history. I’m thinking it’s time for a re-read of All The President’s Men. My whistle’s been whet.
So in honor of my fondness for Dr. Kissinger (and I’m only sorry I was never old enough to go shake my groove thing with him at Studio 54), I leave you with this classic Judy Garland moment, as she expresses her affection for another much older, albeit more conventional, heartthrob.
Dear. Dr. Kissinger...