April 15th, 2012

In NYC at the River Club, Edie Blair—granddaughter of Margaret Graham, who was thankfully awakened in her cabin on the Titanic by Washington Roebling (he perished that night)—coordinated an evening, April 11th. It was evocative and emotional. First, there was a gathering of families affiliated with survivors in a room lined with posterboard descriptions of the lives of survivors and others to coordinate aspects of historical significance. Then, during the superb dinner replicated from the Titanic, April 11th menu, singers and actors from the Warner Theatre of Torrington CT performed pieces from their production of Titanic. The power and effect of their voices was spectacular. How to thank Edie enough is my impossible task.

At the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, April 12th, an evening filled with tributes to Karl Behr and Dick Williams, was nothing short of phenomenal. A twenty-five foot wall display was erected with a 3 dimensional effect: Glass overlaid trophies and pictures complementing material backdrop cloth painted with the waving path of the Titanic along it, and a model of the ship in front with trophies and memorabilia. The display was conceived by Brian Callahan of RISD fame. After the ribbon cutting by Quincy Williams, his daughter Lydia, and me, we spoke to the hundred or so gathered, following a viewing of the 1998 ESPN video. The attendees were enthusiastic. I kept thinking about how my grandfather always said that tennis was really all about the people. So many of them came to talk to me, bought a book and asked for my signature. What a night. Thank you to Doug Stark, Museum Director; Anne Marie McLaughlin, Director of Marketing & Communications; Nicole Markham, Curator of Collections; Meredith Miller, Information and Research Coordinator; Leslie Thomas who helped with all the books, Renee at the desk, John at the desk…. a great team. The Hall of Fame is a TRUE museum. A walk there is walk into the past, not just learning about the past or fictionalizing it. The Newport Casino is preserved as it was, which in salty sea air, is an awesome achievement complemented by new well-lit, vibrant displays.

On to the Elm Street Book Store in New Canaan. Another team of managers under Kathleen Millard set me up for hours, with old friends walking in to surprise and lots of book sales. I looked around appreciating the store’s classic atmosphere; thinking that although I appreciate ebooks, it is just too sad to think that book stores might not survive.

And ok, WOW and BRAVO! to the Roger Sherman Inn’s gala event last night, on THE centennial night when the unthinkable happened. The inn seemed like a ship. Was it rocking, or was I? The band was THE band. The hats, the period dresses, the elegant statures, the food exceptionally delicious. Beth Sanford’s hard work writing and printing tickets about more than fifty of the most interesting passengers. Indescribable seems the word for such a “virtual” tour of reality? All the while tornados were devastating the midwest.