Betty MacDonald's sister Alison Bard Burnett
Betty MacDonald's mother Sydney with grandchild Alison Beck
Betty and Don MacDonald in Hollywood
Wolfgang Hampel - and Betty MacDonald fan club fans,
Daniel Mount wrote a very interesting 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.
Wolfgang Hampel invited a very famous author for next Vita Magica October.
Don't miss it, please.
It will be a fascinating event as usual.
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.
Join our new Betty MacDonald fan club contest, please.
What happened to Betty MacDonald on October 30, 1938?
Send your answer, please and perhaps you'll be the lucky winner of several fascinating Betty MacDonald fan club items.
Deadline: October 31, 2016
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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.
Wolfgang Hampel's Vita Magica September was a great event with author Sabine Arndt and tenor Heinz Meisel.
Guys we know you had lots of fun and joy.
Thanks a million dearest Thomas for sharing.
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.
Don't miss a new breakfast with Brad and Nick, please.
Martine & Sandrine
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Donald Trump sexism tracker: Every offensive comment in one place
These are just some of the names that Donald Trump has called women over the years. Yes, a man who's hoping to become President of the United States and presumably persuade a few women to vote for him, too.
To include them all might have broken the internet, but we'll keep updating the list as more emerge. Promise.
1990: When he belittled his wifeIn an interview with Vanity Fair, while he was still married to Ivana, Trump said:
“I would never buy Ivana any decent jewels or pictures. Why give her negotiable assets?”
1991: When he called women ‘beautiful pieces of ass’Back when George HW Bush was US President, Trump spoke to Esquire magazine about the media: "You know, it doesn't really matter what [they] write as long as you've got a young and beautiful piece of ass."
He is currently married to 45-year old former supermodel Melania.
1997: When he said all women are gold diggersFrom seminal tome Trump: The Art of the Comeback on prenuptial agreements:
“There are basically three types of women and reactions. One is the good woman who very much loves her future husband, solely for himself, but refuses to sign the agreement on principle. I fully understand this, but the man should take a pass anyway and find someone else. The other is the calculating woman who refuses to sign the prenuptial agreement because she is expecting to take advantage of the poor, unsuspecting sucker she’s got in her grasp. There is also the woman who will openly and quickly sign a prenuptial agreement in order to make a quick hit and take the money given to her.”
2004: When he said he was irresistible to womenBack in 2004, Trump told the Daily News: "All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me - consciously or unconsciously. That's to be expected."
2005: When he told a woman she’d ‘make a great wife’According to one woman who appeared on the show, Trump told her: “I bet you make a great wife."
The comment never aired on TV. Can’t imagine why - standard job interview stuff, right?
March 7, 2006: When he cracked an incest gagAccording to ABC News, Trump said: “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
A spokesman later said it was a "joke".
2006: When he slagged off Rosie O’Donnell - part oneIt’s no secret that there’s no love lost between Trump and comedian O’Donnell. Perhaps his most notorious rant against her came on American TV show Entertainment Tonight in 2006, when he said: “Rosie O'Donnell is disgusting, both inside and out. If you take a look at her, she's a slob. How does she even get on television? If I were running The View, I'd fire Rosie. I'd look her right in that fat, ugly face of hers and say, 'Rosie, you're fired.'
"We're all a little chubby but Rosie's just worse than most of us. But it's not the chubbiness - Rosie is a very unattractive person, both inside and out."
He also made a jibe at her love life and managed to offend the LGBT community at the same time: "Rosie's a person who's very lucky to have her girlfriend. And she better be careful or I'll send one of my friends over to pick up her girlfriend, why would she stay with Rosie if she had another choice?"
2007: When he compared women to architectureThis appears in his bible of business wisdom Trump 101: The Way to Success:
"Beauty and elegance, whether in a woman, a building, or a work of art, is not just superficial or something pretty to see."
At least our beauty isn’t superficial, eh ladies?
2007: When he called Angelina ‘not beautiful’On Larry King’s CNN show, Trump addressed Jolie’s falling out with her father Jon Voight, saying:
“I really understand beauty. And I will tell you, she's not - I do own Miss Universe. I do own Miss USA. I mean I own a lot of different things. I do understand beauty, and she's not."
June 2007: When he pitched ‘Lady or a Tramp?’Yes, really. This was reported to be a reality show, in which ‘"out of control" party girls were sent to charm school to learn some manners. Because, God forbid a woman should be anything but demure.
Tragically, it was never made.
2008: When he called Anne Hathaway a gold diggerWhen the actress's marriage broke up, following her husband Raffello Follieri’s financial and legal troubles, Trump told Access Hollywood:
"So when he had plenty of money, she liked him. But then after that, not as good, right?
2009: ‘The Trump rule’Beauty queen Carrie Prejean wrote about the ‘Trump rule’ in her book, referring to the Miss USA pageant, of which Trump was co-owner. She claimed that the billionaire had the girls parade in front of him so he could separate those he found attractive from those he didn’t.
She wrote: “Many of the girls found this exercise humiliating. Some of the girls were sobbing backstage after [he] left, devastated to have failed even before the competition really began . . . it was as though we had been stripped bare.”
November, 2010: When he asked men to rate womenAccording to a report in the New York Post, former female contestants on the show complained that Trump consistently objectified women.
Mahsa Saeidi-Azcuy claimed: “So much of the boardroom discussion concerned the appearance of the female contestant - discussing the female contestants' looks - who he found to be hot.
“He asked the men to rate the women - he went down the line and asked the guys, ‘Who’s the most beautiful on the women’s team?’"
Gene Folkes, a 46-year-old financial adviser, said: “I think it was most uncomfortable when he had one [female] contestant come around the board table and twirl around.”
2011: When he called breastfeeding 'disgusting’Trump was in court testifying in a deposition over a failed Florida real estate project when lawyer Elizabeth Beck asked to take a break to breastfeed her three-month old daughter.
Trump and his team objected, so she pulled out her breast pump to prove it. In an incident that the Republican presidential candidate "does not dispute", he walked out of the room, telling Beck she was "disgusting".
2011: When he called a female journalist a ‘dog’After New York Times columnist Gail Collins wrote about rumours of Trump’s bankruptcy, he sent her a copy of her own article, with her picture circled and "the face of a dog!" scrawled across it.
April 3, 2012: When he joked about his penisIn 2012, transgender Miss Universe contestant Jenna Talackova was kicked out of the contest for not having declared her trans status in her entry (the pageant does now accept trans people). Talackova’s lawyer, Gloria Allred, angrily said that no one had asked Trump to "prove" he was a man by showing his anatomy.
In response, Trump called in to TMZ Live and said of his penis: “I think Gloria would be very impressed."
May 11, 2012: When he criticised CherIn 2012, the singer criticised Trump’s friend and right-wing politician Mitt Romney. His response? To attack her appearance, of course.
August 28, 2012: When he insulted Arianna HuffingtonHuffington Post editor and co-founder Arianna Huffington is a regular target of Trump’s. But instead of attacking her liberal views, he tends to criticise her looks and make jokes about her divorce.
March 2, 2013: When he slagged off Rosie O’Donnell - part two
March 3, 2013 : When he made an oral sex jokeFormer Playboy playmate Brande Roderick was a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice in the US. During a tense boardroom battle, she knelt in front of Trump – who takes the Alan Sugar role – to ask him whether she could be the next project manager.
After a six-second silence (an eternity on TV), during which Trump presumably willed some blood to return to his head, he said: “It must be a pretty picture. You dropping to your knee."
Because isn’t that a woman’s place in the boardroom – on her knees?
May 7, 2013: When he blamed sex assault on cohabitationRather than, say, questioning why so many assaults go unreported or why so few perpetrators are brought to justice. Nope, it must be down to the fact that women and men just can’t share the same living quarters.
2015: When he did a u-turn on abortionHaving previously supported the pro-choice lobby, Trump has now changed his stance on abortion to fit in with the Republican party.
He’s also said he’d be willing to shut down the US government to defund non-profit reproductive health organisation Planned Parenthood.
He told the Des Moines Register in April: “In thinking about it over the years, I’ve had instances, and one instance in particular, a friend had a child who they were going to abort, and now they have it, and the child is incredible. And the man, he changed his views also because of that.”
April 7, 2015: When he called Arianna Huffington ugly - part two
April 16, 2015: When he said Hillary couldn’t ‘satisfy’…and therefore couldn’t satisfy America, in a thinly veiled reference to Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Where most of Trump’s sexist tweets remain, this one has mysteriously disappeared from the social media site. His office said one of the 10 staff who runs his Twitter account was responsible.
August 8, 2015: When he used the word 'bimbo'Journalist Megyn Kelly recently hosted the first Republican debate of the US presidential campaign and gave Trump a tough time over previous accusations of sexism against him (really, we can’t imagine why).
After the debate, Trump responded by seeming to call her a "bimbo" on Twitter.
August 16, 2015: When he called Heidi Klum fatIn an interview with the New York Times, Trump said of the German supermodel: “Heidi Klum. Sadly, she’s no longer a 10.”
In response, Klum posted a video on Twitter in which she wore a T-shirt with ‘10’ written on it.
September 9, 2015: When he insulted Carly FiorinaCarly Fiorina is the former Hewlett-Packard boss and Trump’s Republican candidate rival. According to Rolling Stone magazine, he said: "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?
"Can you imagine that, the face of our next next president? I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?"
November 10, 2015: When he insulted Fiorina - part twoTrump singled out his female Republican rival for a dressing down, ignoring the fact that his male counterparts were also talking over one another.
His comment - "Why does she keep interrupting everybody?" - was immediately called sexist on social media.
March 30, 2016: When he said abortion was 'punishable'Trump caused mass outage after advocating "some form of punishment" for women who have abortions if the practice is banned (which it likely will be if he gets his way).
The Republican front-runner said he has "evolved" on the issue of abortion. He was pro-choice for years before changing his position and backing a ban.
He believes the Supreme Court ruling legalising abortion should be overturned and that individual states should be allowed to ban it. His campaign said he believes abortion should be legal only in instances of rape, incest or when the life of the mother was at stake.
"There has to be some form of punishment," he told MSNBC, referring to women who would seek to defy the ban.
Trump reversed his position two hours later, with a statement saying that he would punish doctors who performed abortions but not the women themselves. Well that's alright then.
May 8, 2016: When he called Clinton an 'enabler'After Clinton criticised his stance his stance on women's issues, Trump hit back the only way he knows how: by accusing her of being an “enabler” of her husband's affairs by destroying the lives of his mistresses.
At a rally, he said: “Bill Clinton was the worst in history and I have to listen to her talking about it?" he said in Eugene, Oregon. “Just remember this: She was an unbelievably nasty, mean enabler.
"And what she did to a lot of those women is disgraceful. So put that in her bonnet and let's see what happens."
And on May 17, Trump tweeted:
May 18, 2016: When he 'apologised' to Megyn KellyNine months after suggesting Fox presenter Megyn Kelly was menstruating after she took him to task over previous sexist comments, the Republican candidate apologised. Or tried to. When asked about calling Kelly a "bimbo", Trump replied: "Did I say that? Excuse me."
But he couldn't resist adding another jibe: "Over your life, Megyn, you've been called a lot worse, wouldn't you say?"
September 26, 2016: The first televised presidential debate
And that's before he questioned Clinton's health when she was suffering from pneumonia last month, saying: "She doesn’t have the look. She doesn’t have the stamina."
For which read: 'She's not strong enough to cope with the job.' And that's before dissecting what a 'presidential look' is for a woman in Trump's mind. Coming from a man who - as we've seen - likes to comment on women's physical attributes, it's pretty un-presidential stuff.
September 27, 2016: When he hinted at 'rough attacks'After the first debate, Trump congratulated himself on not bringing up Bill Clinton's "sexual indiscretions" and hinted that he was considering "rough attacks" on Hillary and her family in the near future.
“I was going to hit her with her husband's women and I decided I shouldn't do it because her daughter was in the room," he told Fox News.
His comments were widely interpreted as a threat to bring them up in future debates. Asked if that would expose him to attacks about his own marital history, the twice-divorced Mr Trump said: "No not at all, I have a very good history."
September 30, 2016: When he called a woman 'Miss Piggy'This one actually dates back to 1996. But in the early hours of the morning, in September 2016, Trump posted a series of comments on Twitter continuing his attack on the former Miss Universe winner and Venezuelan actress Alicia Machado.
Machado's name had been raised by Hillary Clinton, during the first Presidential debate, when she accused the Republican candidate of having called the model "fat". Miss Machado has claimed Mr Trump called her "Miss Piggy" and "Miss Housekeeping".
Mrs Clinton said the model had recently become a US citizen and "you can bet she's going to vote in November".
Having initially asked "Where did you find this?", Trump has since refused to back down, saying Machado had increased in weight from 118 pounds to more than 160 pounds: "She was the winner and she gained a massive amount of weight, and it was real problem for us."
America work up on Friday morning to a series of tweets, in which he claimed the model had starred in a sex tape - something for which there is no evidence. Clinton hit back, calling Trump "unhinged" and asking: "What kind of man stays up all night to smear a woman with lies and conspiracy theories?"
September 30, 2016: When he said 12-year-old Paris Hilton was 'attractive'The next in a series of past comments that have come back to haunt Trump as the presidential race ramps up. This one courtesy of an old interview with Howard Stern, with whom Trump used to play a game called "Hot or Not".
Trump: “Now, somebody who a lot of people don’t give credit to but in actuality is really beautiful is Paris Hilton. I’ve known Paris Hilton from the time she’s 12, her parents are friends of mine, and the first time I saw her she walked into the room and I said, ‘Who the hell is that?’”
Stern: “Did you wanna bang her?”
Trump: “Well, at 12, I wasn’t interested. I’ve never been into that ... but she was beautiful.”
He then went on to admit he'd watched her sex tape.
October 3, 2016: When he rated Apprentice contestants' looksAnother day, another accusation. Associated Press spoke to insiders on reality show The Apprentice USA, who claim that former host Trump used to rate female contestants by the size of their breasts and talked about which ones he'd like to have sex with.
Former crew members recalled that he repeatedly made lewd comments about a camerawoman who he said had a nice rear, comparing her beauty to that of his daughter, Ivanka. Others said Trump called for female contestants to wear shorter dresses which also showed more cleavage.
Producer Katherine Walker said Trump frequently talked about women's bodies and said he speculated about which female contestant would be "a tiger in bed". While a crew member who asked not to be identified, recalled: "We were in the boardroom one time figuring out who to blame for the task, and he just stopped in the middle and pointed to someone and said, 'You'd f*** her, wouldn't you? I'd f*** her. C'mon, wouldn't you?'"
The Trump campaign called the claims "outlandish, unsubstantiated, and totally false".
October 7, 2016: When a video emerged of him talking about 'grabbing (women) by the p----'Mr Trump hit a new low after the emergence of a video in which he discusses "grabbing (women) by the p----" and states that “when you’re a star, they let you do it”.
The Republican presidential nominee uses lewd and sexually aggressive language to brag about groping and trying to have sex with women, including someone who was married, in footage obtained by the Washington Post.
“I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it,” Trump says. “I did try and f--- her. She was married.
“And I moved on her very heavily... I moved on her like a b----, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married."
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.
info to: Sandra Lorinda Traci Petr Dana Jana Michaela Rebekah Swiss Charrd Tru John Darsie Darsie Toby Jeanine Carol Justin Lila Daniel Mo Nika Steve Neal Jitka Jitka Tami Pete Laurie Maia Nancy Kelly Pam Mary Jan and all our other friends
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