Here is the missing installment. Tomorrow I begin Volume Two, Chapter Two of the Memoirs.
The event that separated my first year at Chicago decisively from my second was my marriage to Cindy in June of 1962. We had been seeing each other steadily for almost five years, but the year apart brought things to a head. We both felt that we ought either to get married or end our relationship. We decided on marriage. Cindy's parents were not thrilled, to put it as gently as I can. Her father, James Griffin, was by this time the Vice-President for Public Relations of Sears Roebuck, and the Griffins were living in an elegant apartment in downtown Chicago. They were serious Catholics - her father had been made a Knight of Malta for his fund-raising services to the Church. Our marriage would apparently be a "scandal to the faithful," which pretty much precluded our being married in Shaker Heights, where Cindy had grown up while Griffin was in charge of the Cleveland Group of Sears stores. Nor could we be married in a Catholic Church. At this point, Cindy had decisively left the Church, but she very much wanted her family to be involved in the affair, so we hit upon a geographical and ecclesiastical compromise. We would be married in Appleton Chapel in Harvard Yard by an Episcopalian Minister.
I had taught with Hanna Holborn Gray in Soc Sci 5 at Harvard, as I have already mentioned [see Volume One, Chapter Six]. Hanna, the daughter of the distinguished Yale historian Hajo Holborn, was the fair-haired girl of the Harvard History Department, Myron Gilmore's almost certain successor as the Ren and Ref expert [Renaissance and Reformation, for those not in the know.] But her husband, Charles Gray, a former Junior Fellow teaching at MIT, got a good job at the University of Chicago, and she followed him out. At first, she could only get a position in the College, but eventually, she became Acting President of Yale University, President of the University of Chicago, and is now a member of the Harvard Corporation. When Cindy and I got engaged, Hanna and Charles organized a cocktail party in our honor to celebrate. We were madly rushing around making arrangements and simply forgot about the party. When I came to my senses and realized what we had done, I was so totally mortified that I could not even call to apologize. I simply slunk away and never talked to her again. Even now, forty-eight years later, I cringe when I think about it. Hanna, if by some chance you have found your way to this blog, will you at long last accept my most humble apologies?
When Cindy and I settled upon our engagement, I called my parents to tell them the good news. Appleton Chapel is not a large church, so we agreed that it would have to be a small wedding. Cindy had a brother and an uncle and aunt in addition to her parents, and of course none of her father's Catholic business associates could consider attending, so the bride's party would be pretty small. On my side were my mother and father and sister, but I wanted as well to invite my favorite aunt and uncle, as well as my grandmother, if she could make it at her then advanced age. I told my mother that I wanted to invite only the absolutely inner circle of family. She thought for a long minute and said, "Well, there are thirty-five." "No, no, Ma, " I said, "You don't understand. There isn't room for everybody. I just want the irreducible minimum." "You don't understand," she replied. 'You don't have to live with them after the wedding."
In the end, only my parents and my sister came to the wedding. The remainder of the guests were all our friends from our Harvard days. The Winthrop House Senior Common Room attended, led by David Owen. The Moores were there, along with David Riesman and a host of other Harvard Square types. At the appropriate moment in the ceremony, i intoned the ritual words, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Since I was a confirmed atheist, I adopted a cultural anthropological rather than a doctrinal attitude toward this element of the ceremony, but I was the first person in my extended family ever to utter those words, and when they crossed my lips, there was a collective inrushing of breath from the groom's side of the aisle.
Cindy and I set up light housekeeping in an apartment at 5550 South Dorchester, two blocks from my old apartment. The wedding presents flowed in from both sides of the marriage. From Cindy's side came a good deal of silver plate and Steuban crystal, courtesy of her father's business associates, along with a little gaudily painted china figurine of The Infant of Prague. From my side came a scroll stating that ten trees had been planted in Israel in our name. We had more than enough good china and crystal, but we were short on money, so we decided to return a collection of expensive but unwanted wedding gifts to the stores in Cleveland from which they had come. We loaded up the VW bug and drove to Ohio. A number of the items had come from the same place, Halle's Department Store in downtown Cleveland. When we got there, Cindy said she would stay in the car while I went up to do the returns. Things went pretty well until I got to the Steuben Room. When I handed in the pair of Steuben sugar and cream servers, explaining lamely that they were a duplicate, the saleslady looked at me askance and asked whether I really wanted to return them. "Oh, yes," I assured her brightly. She opened the little file card holder in which each patron's purchases were carefully recorded on a separate card. She paged through the file until she came to a thick group of cards clipped together. It seemed the gift was from Mr. Halle himself, the owner of the store. I beat a hasty retreat and had a few words with Cindy in the car.
Cindy had completed her coursework for the doctorate in English Literature, and was studying for her oral examinations. Let me take just a moment to explain what this involved. Cindy was going to spend two hours being quizzed by three members of the Harvard English Department on English Literature -- all of it. Everything was fair game, from Beowulf to Finnegan's Wake. Poetry, drama, fiction, non-fiction prose, all of it. Night after night, Cindy plowed her way through everything she had not already mastered, preparing herself for the examination. That ordeal gave her a grounding for her career that no selection of "special fields' could have matched.
Meanwhile, since we needed the money, Cindy got herself a job at Illinois Institute of Technology teaching a required Humanities course to budding engineers. Three times a week she would get in the VW and drive north to 33rd street, where she would face a class of students who really did not want to be there. By the time the second semester had rolled around, she had worked her way to the poetry section. One day, she went into class to discuss a sonnet by Robert Frost. She labored hard to show the students how much thought Frost had put into his poem, even holding up a xeroxed copy of the original hand-written text, with Frost's emendations. The students weren't having any of it. They refused to believe there could be that much in a poem. Finally, in exasperation, she asked them, "How long do you imagine it took Frost to write this poem?" Well, this was a time and motion problem that a group of engineers could get their teeth into, and a lively argument broke out in the class, with the students even ignoring Cindy in their excitement. At one point, a student looked up and asked, "Is this an early poem or a late poem?" Cindy told him it was a late poem. More deliberation. Finally, as engineers will, they came to a group consensus. Since it was a late poem, they said, and he must have been quite practiced at poetry by the time he came to write it, they agreed that it would have taken him a minute a line. Fourteen lines, fourteen minutes. That night, Cindy was in such despair that she seriously considered quitting her job. I protested that we needed the money, and pushed her out the door the next morning to go to class.
Once my manuscript had been accepted by Harvard, there was a great deal of work to be done before it actually became a book. First came a host of small revisions in response to Beck's four pages of comments. This was followed by the copy-edited manuscript, the galleys, and the page proofs. I always find this process rather fun. It requires no intelligence whatsoever, and still gives you the sense that you are doing something productive. And it is always enjoyable to spend time with your own words, a holdover, I suppose, from our infantile fascination with our own feces. But then came the business of preparing an index. This being my first book, I had never done an index before. Those of you reading these words who are entirely creatures of the digital age probably do not appreciate what an excruciating task it was to produce an index for a book. For you, it is just a matter of going to the right drop-down menu and clicking on the appropriate item. In the old days [back when we all walked seven miles to school in our bare feet through the snow -- those old days], things were different. You bought an enormous stack of file cards, sat down with a set of page proofs [you had to know the page on which a word appeared in order to index it, of course], and went through the text, flagging each item you thought ought to be in the index. After a while, a blizzard of cards would pile up on the floor, and you would spend most of your time clawing through it frantically trying to find the card on which you knew you had already written "a prior synthesis.” When I was done, I swore Never again. Whatever it cost, I would pay to have it done. And so I have. That was my first and last engagement with indexing.
Cindy aced her orals. They scarcely touched on most of what she had crammed into her head, of course -- they were only two hours long, after all -- but the preparation for them left her with a command of the entire sweep of English Literature that has stood her in good stead to the present day. Having become what we all in the Academy now refer to as ABD, she decided to write her doctoral dissertation on the relationship between the epistolary novels of the eighteenth century English writer Samuel Richardson and the literature of Puritan self-examination out of which they had emerged.