Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Time I Saw Gloria Steinem (and Robert B. Parker)

Writer's Almanac tells us that today is the birthday of feminist icon Gloria Steinem.  I once took some middle school kids to see her at Booksellers in Cleveland ... here's a couple of brief excerpts from my Kindle book Turning Pages: A Memoir of Books and Libraries and Loss ...  The first deals with taking kids to see mystery writer Robert B. Parker (the Spenser series and others); the second, with Steinem ...

In the mid-1990s I drove a group of my eighth-graders up to a local book store for a Parker signing.  I was excited.  I’d read every new Spenser novel at the moment of publication—and even owned some of his early non-Spensers (like Three Weeks in Spring, co-written with his wife, Joan).  I’d met Parker at another signing, some years earlier, but the store had been so crowded that I’d barely been able to say “Hello.”  (In those days—the first time I met him—he was still signing Robert B. Parker; later, he scrawled just a plain RBP.)  I’d told my students about Parker’s novels and about Spenser, the private eye, and was surprised that they did not remember the mid-eighties’ TV show Spenser: For Hire.  I told my students to meet me at school early that evening so we would beat the crowd.  But a kid or two were late, so we arrived about fifteen minutes after the scheduled start.  I was dreading he equator-length line we’d face.
But no one was in the store.  No one but Robert B. Parker, who was wandering around in the stacks looking at books.  My students and I talked with him for nearly a half-hour before anyone else showed up.  On the way home, no one was so unwise as to ask me why I thought a crowd would be there.


I once took some eighth graders to Cleveland to see Steinem when she was touring with her latest, Moving Beyond Words (1994).  There was an enormous crowd, one that would have given Robert B. Parker a deep dose of line-envy.  During the question-and-answer period, one woman held up her toddler and asked, What can you tell my daughter about the life she has ahead of her?  Steinem instantly replied: It’s going to be fan-fucking-tastic.  My students yelped with pleasure; their teacher blushed; the crowd erupted with applause and laughter.

And yes, oh yes, oh yes--I got their autographs!

1 comment:

  1. If only it were true! I fear we have backtracked a great deal since then . . .