wOw’s Question of the Week: If you could keep only one of your memories for the rest of eternity, which would you choose?
That would have to be a night a few weeks after my daughter, Chloe, was born. It was early December and I was in her room, propped on countless clouds of pillows on the bed. Chloe was sleeping on my chest and the radio was on the classical station, which was playing “Jesu, Son of Man’s Desiring,” or whatever it is, and I thought I had ascended into heaven. It was the purest happiness, the truest love I had ever known.
Joan Ganz Cooney
If someone held a gun to my head I don’t think I could choose just one memory so I won’t try. I always want to remember, about a year after I arrived in New York from Phoenix, being taken by a friend one Sunday afternoon to Adolph Green’s apartment. One of the guests, Steve Sondheim, played and sang a song for which he’d just written the lyrics called “Maria” for a show that was not yet in rehearsal. Later someone prevailed on another guest, Lena Horne, to sing “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” and Jerry Robbins got up and started dancing as she sang. I thought to myself, “Joanie, you aren’t in Kansas anymore.” Another memory I’d like to keep forever is the day I started as a producer at Channel 13. I felt just-born, not reborn. And of course the celebration the night “Sesame Street” went on the air, and I knew it was something more than just a new television show going on the air, that we would do what we set out to do, which was to make a difference in children’s lives. I was REborn when my granddaughter, Chloe, was born and when her mother, my stepdaughter, would pump breast milk into a bottle whenever I was coming over so that I could feed the baby and rock her to sleep, while singing old cowboy songs to her. Like Candy with her Chloe, I found the meaning of bliss.
First, I want to say that this excellent question came from our own Joan Larsen. (She’s the most memorable!) Second, like Joan Ganz Cooney, I remember so many: the day I got my first job at McCall’s Magazine (as a “manuscript girl”); the day the man I had the biggest crush on and I made out unexpectedly and wildly (and for months thereafter); the days as an editor when books I was privileged to work on opened up on The New York Times bestseller lists; the day I won a nasty divorce after seven years of fighting, two appeals, and 12 days in court; the day six years ago I met the man I love (and I “knew” at the first minute); the day – just two years ago – wowOwow went live on the World Wide Web.
Well if I could not keep them all … I’d rather sleep for eternity.
If someone held a gun to my head I’d forget memories, reclaim the moment and convince them that taking my life was not worth the consequences. I’d offer them the warmish wooden spoon of the chocolate pudding I was making, let them lick the friendly chocolate, give them this recipe for life’s meaning, tell them this sweetness could be theirs from then on and, then, send them merrily away. Then I’d dial 9-1-1.
One memory above all others? Just one is impossible. Here are three in all their egotistical simplicity. No. 1. When I first laid eyes on my godchild, the infant Spencer, who had come into this world in all his glory and I determined to make him “mine” in my heart of hearts. No. 2. My 80th birthday party in the old Madison Ave. Le Cirque when Ann Richards, Joan Ganz Cooney, Cynthia McFadden, Ellen Levine, Joni Evans, Louise Grunwald and Marie Brenner laid on an incredible blast with Tout New York on hand. No. 3. The day the New York Daily News began my column back in 1976 with my name up there in World War II-type gothic headlines. I’d say, looking back now, Spencer wins hands down.
I am a memoryaire. Like Candy, my first sights of my daughters are my happiest memories by far and their children a close second in happiness ratings. Maybe it’s a great book – all the wOw memories we would keep for eternity!