I hope you read my story about the Chicago convention when, at a big luncheon, Ted Kennedy kept patting my tummy because I was wearing one of those bouncy full-skirted dresses in style at the time and he thought I was pregnant and he was patting the baby. That is one of those mistakes you make that you never forget. Ted may have forgotten it but my late husband Harding didn’t. We saw Ted frequently for a while at Mary Lasker’s apartment near the U.N. Mary was the wonder woman who got the government into trying to cure cancer and had a lot to do with the cherry trees in Washington and the group that planted Park Avenue into splendor.
Mary wanted to adopt me primarily to educate me about art as she couldn’t understand how I could be successful in the advertising business without being art smart. She adored Ted and she adored my husband and she assumed they would adore each other. But my husband saw Ted as a tummy patter and Ted saw my husband as someone best to avoid. Mary was determined to get Ted and my husband together into serious conversations about the cancer foundation and she figured I was in the way so she would push me into corners with any artist she was excited about at the time. “You know, Mary,” Ted said to her and to me and to my husband once as she was pulling me away. “If I didn’t value my life, I do know how to get a telephone number.”
Harding thought that was funny and became a fan. Later, after Ted had gone, she said to us, “You know, women are mad about him, they call him with invitations all the time. But I know him well and, believe me, he is a lovely human being and he is very careful, he knows he is trusted, he has so much to lose for us all.”
I remembered Mary when Ted had his trouble and I have always believed she was right about him. We need lovely human beings these days. I am praying for him.