Humorous and insightful chronicle of a long life filled with interesting friends and experiences, shared for nearly six decades with an exceptional man.
Still writing at 87 (the eponymous column for her local New Hampshire paper), Campion is one of those rare people who can recall both joyously and wisely a full existence, dwelling mostly in sunny uplands rather than the inevitable dark valleys. She is an accomplished raconteur; her stories of dinners with Craig Claiborne; a 1992 interview with Hillary Rodham Clinton (a fellow Wellesley graduate); and a conversation with E.B. White are exemplary, entertaining as well as informative. But these delightful anecdotes are only part of a book as notable for its personal testament as for its portrait of the early 20th century. In an address to her class of 1938 reunion—now a classic after its 1993 publication in The Boston Globe—Campion listed all the changes her generation had experienced. “We were before television, penicillin, nylon, Xerox,” she noted. “Wellesley ‘girls’ were forbidden to wear pants and Harvard ‘boys’ thought only Hillbillies wore blue jeans . . . we had real fountain pens with real bottles of ink . . . and when Ray Noble slowly sang ‘The Very Thought of You’ we melted.” Born in 1917 in Hawaii, where her military father was stationed, she numbered among her experiences as an army brat a voyage to Manila on the same boat as the honeymooning General MacArthur and a stint in Panama. In her last year at Wellesley, she met husband-to-be Tom Campion, a Harvard senior who taught her “that laughter is life’s best solvent.” This lesson helped as Tom changed jobs four times, they raised five children (one of whom had a breakdown in college), and she wrote seven books, including one that became the movie The Long Gray Line.
A memoir to savor for its many riches and, most of all, its zest.