Tuesday, February 26, 2019

HARRY TRUMAN | Lauren Bacall

At Truman's piano, under framed photo of Bacall.
Photo by L Feinberg.
February 24, 2019–I visited the National Press Club last week.  

The Club still has the piano that President Truman was playing when Lauren Bacall was sitting atop it, on February 10, 1945. 

On a visit to the National Press Club in Washington to entertain members of the armed services, Bacall sat on the top of a piano while Vice President Harry S. Truman played some music.

Lauren Bacall (L) and President Truman,
Feb. 10, 1945. Photo by Charlie Enfield.
The photo series got even more attention when Truman became president later that year, after the death of FDR. 

The idea for the photos came from Bacall’s press agent, Charlie Enfield, who was also the publicity chief at her movie studio, Warner Bros. He prompted her to pose with Truman.

I reenacted the scene with my college contemporary, Larry Feinberg. Instead of sitting on the piano, we let the Bacall-Truman photo do that work and Larry was the photographer. Feinberg was on the staff of the Harvard Crimson and went on to work for the Washington Post for many years before leading research for the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

It was Harry Truman who famously recommended to Washington newcomers: "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." Alice and I have a dog, a hero dog, Hachikō (see

Sunday, February 10, 2019

WALES | Nannau and the Nanney Family

February 3, 2019–Philip Nanney Williams has written a truly impressive book about the house of Nannau in Wales, the family home of the Nanneys and Vaughans. 

The family tree that he includes with his book is an extraordinary one, going back to the Imperator (Emperor) of North Wales, Cunedda Wiedig (380-450), who married Gnal verch Coel, who married Old King Cole, the merry old soul.
Powys family arms,
banner of Wales.
Source: Wiki Commons.

Coats of Arms. The coats of arms of prominent members of the family decorate the family tree, from the King of Powys & Gwynedd, to the Prince of Powys, to the Prince of Wales. 

They and the King of Deheubarth use lion rampant, typically Gules on Or. The lion rampant is also shown as Azure on Or and Or on Gules. All of these versions are prominent in Welsh heraldry.

Other devices used on later arms are 
  • Three lions passant, Argent on Gules, for the King of Gwyneddd.
  • Three eagles displayed Or on Vert.
Aerial view of Nannau
Nannau. The title of the book refers to a mansion and estate in the parish of LlanfachrethMeirionnydd. It is named for the family who lived there.
The Nannau family is descended from the princes of Powys through the 13th century prince Ynyr Hen. 

The family has a tradition of being patrons of prominent contemporary poets. The mansion is mentioned in several poems from the 14th century on. 

The poet Llywelyn Goch ap Meurig Hen was a part of the family.  Siôn Dafydd Las (died 1694), of the Nannau bard family, is considered to be one of the last of the traditional Welsh family poets.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

CRISIS | If you are abroad in an attack, some advice

The following advice is abbreviated from a post on Conde Nast Traveler: 

If your travels are interrupted by an attack, you may have to act and move quickly. Take a page from airplane pilots
  • Aviate, resist the urge to shut down or give in to panic. 
  • Navigate, take stock of exactly where you are, plus possible escape routes or safe zones should they be necessary. 
  • Communicate, once you’ve confirmed your safety and health, share your status with family and on social media.
Notify the U.S. Embassy of your whereabouts, status, and onward travel plans. Search for your nearest U.S. Embassy on the official government website and register your future or onward travels via the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP.

Use Facebook’s Safety Check feature to quickly inform your friends and family, via the social network, of your safety. Geolocation will pinpoint your proximity to a site of crisis, and your next visit to Facebook will prompt you to “mark yourself safe." The Difference Between Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings

Consider adding an international voice and data plan for your smartphone if you aren’t already traveling with one. 
  • T-Mobile customers have free international texting and 2G data in more than 140 countries (even Christmas Island!), with $0.20-per-minute calling, as part of every postpaid plan. If 2G isn’t fast enough, there are several options to pay for a bump in data speed. 
  • Sprint is similar, but much slower, with speed-capped 2G data in Latin America, Japan, and Europe. 
  • AT&T and Verizon offer “passes” for international data, from $10 per day to $40 for an entire month, for use in 200 countries. 
  • Google’s Project Fi may be the solution, with a $10-per-gigabyte rate and unlimited texting in more than 135 countries and no restrictions on how much of that use needs to be in the United States.
  • If your phone is unlocked, buy a local SIM card and prepaid plan. 
The ability to call emergency services, travel providers, and your friends and family should not be underestimated. In addition, having data means access to mapping apps, social media, travel re-booking emails, and any breaking news updates on the situation.

Gather phone numbers and monitor social media accounts for your booked airlines and hotels, should travel be disrupted or rescheduled.Have your confirmation codes for booked travel easily retrievable. Memorize your passport number and its expiration date.

Visit the U.S. State Department’s Alerts and Warningswebsite for details and assessments of any new potential threats to foreign tourists resulting from the crisis.

Be a good neighbor. Consider participating in opportunities to help individuals and the community recover. Facebook is another excellent source for this, which is yet another reason to have international data for your smartphone.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

THE PRIORY SCHOOL | Montreal, Canada

The Priory School opened in 1947
with 25 students, in "Le Manoir".
My Dad worked for FDR for his entire long administration, from 1933 to 1945. In the last year, he was sent by the Budget Bureau to cover the United Nations. He was picked to be Secretary to the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO), and when ICAO was permanently formed, he was invited to be a staff member.

So we all moved to Montreal, first for a year in Lachine. I attended a school there.

We then moved to Argyle Avenue in Westmount, and I attended St Leo's School for two years and then the Priory School, a Catholic private day school located in "Le Manoir" in Nôtre Dame de Grace.  The school was founded by Frances Ballantyne and Alphonsine (usually known as "Phonsine") Howlett. My younger sister Elisabeth went to The Study.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

TOMÁS & PAQUITA ALVIRA | Book Launch, Nov. 8, 2018

Olga's new book, on the Alviras.
November 13, 2018–My sister Olga Marlin's 84th birthday was yesterday. In response to birthday wishes, she sent the following report on the launch of her book on the Alvira couple, Tomás and Paquita, the previous Thursday in Nairobi, Kenya:
On November 8 we had the launch of the Alvira book [Our Lives in His Hands] in the Strathmore Business School. It was for cocktails with speeches and a book signing. The following morning we had a breakfast and Colloquium on the Family. Concha's brother, Professor Rafael Alvira, came for the occasion. 
The events were very well attended, with a packed auditorium and sale of more than 100 books.  Concha's brother gave a couple of speeches. A display of books on stage was hidden by a curtain with a red ribbon across it. The Guest of Honour cut the ribbon, the curtain was drawn – and coloured smoke went up with a bang! I was shocked and thought the electric lights had blown! But it was only a planned highlight of the launch. 
The Guest of Honour was an Indonesian from the World Bank, son of Muslim parents who converted to Catholicism and later joined Opus Dei. His wife was also there, a Filipino lady. It was all very warm and friendly. 
Author Olga with Fred Comins, visiting from
NYC, about 1980. Olga is my sister. Fred
is my wife Alice Tepper Marlin's uncle. 
People like the book a lot. It's being translated into French, Spanish, and Polish. 
Olga sent me her remarks for the occasion, which I post here with her permission:
During a Christmas visit I made to Archbishop Raphael Ndingi in 2010, with a colleague, Kitonyi Saiti, the idea for this book came about. We had told the Archbishop that Concha Alvira was going to Spain in February for the opening of the Cause of Beatification of her parents and he was very happy. 
He had always shown great interest in the work Opus Dei was doing in Kenya, especially in promoting Christian family life and now he told us that he had a prayer card of the couple, given to him by the Nuncio, which he kept it in his breviary and prayed every day. 
“A book should be written about them,” he said “so that especially the women can get to know Paquita who was just like them.” I said a book already existed in Spanish.
“Then translate it,” he said. 
In September the following year I had to go to Spain for health reasons and spent the next four years in and out of the Clinic of Navarre University in Pamplona. I began working on the book there. I corresponded with Antonio Vazquez, a great friend and colleague of Tomás Alvira and author of the two Spanish biographies, and with a daughter, Pilar Alvira, who lives in Madrid but came several times to work with me in Pamplona and provided lots of help and information. I also had the invaluable experience of 30 years working closely with Concha here in Nairobi. 
Olga's first book, on her life.
My main job was to convert the biographies into a chronologically based story, telling what happened as their lives unfolded and letting the facts speak for themselves. It was a beautiful task and I learned a lot, especially from the Alviras’ fidelity to the spirit of the Founder, one day after another as they built up a “bright and cheerful home.” 
When I returned to Nairobi in September 2015 with the finished book, I had to start looking for a publisher. I was told that it would need a professional editor, and I should look for a prominent person to write the Foreword. For editor I thought of Mary Gottschalk, who edited my first book To Africa with a Dream [published by Scepter in 2002 and issued in a new edition with photos by Boissevain Books in 2011]. She was so enthusiastic about that book that the publisher commented that if she had her way, Mary would sell it at every street corner! 
Mary is also editor of the three volumes of “The Founder of Opus Dei” by Andrés Vazquez de Prada, so she had lots of experience. She was willing to take on the editing of this book and fell in love with it as she worked, fully identifying with Tomás and Paquita. It took her nearly two years to complete the job. As Mary lives and works in Texas, she gave the text an American flavour; not out of place, as I am American-born… (Concha was amused to find her mother translated as saying: “You know what, honey?” to one of her sisters…). 
For the Foreword, I thought of Mary Ann Glendon, a Professor at Harvard Law School and former U.S Ambassador to the Holy See. I had seen a video interview with her in the University of Navarre which greatly impressed me and later I admired some faith-filled decisions she took. As it happened, Mary Ann was well-known to Professor Alvira, and she was delighted to write the Foreword for a book about his parents. Her contribution was marvellous, giving an expert overview of the challenges facing families, and celebrating “the complementarity of the Alviras and their nine children in a faith-filled, loving household where work and family were closely intertwined.” 
Scepter Publishers chose the title for the book and selected the cover photograph, which so much appealed to the journalist, Dorothy Kweyu, that she began her review in the Saturday Nation of August 11, saying: “The first thing that strikes one about ‘Our Lives in His Hands’ is the romantic image of Paquita and Tomás Alvira, whose laughter lights up the book’s front cover.” In the course of her article, Dorothy highlights the relevance of the lives of the Alvira couple for ordinary Kenyans and the couple’s personal involvement in this country which they loved so much. In 1980, when Concha wrote from where she was studying in Rome to tell her parents that she would be going to live and work in Kenya, they were at first taken aback, but quickly overcame it. 
They answered, saying: “We have already read many things about Kenya, We want to know all about that country, so as to love it more.” Two years later they came to Nairobi to visit Concha and see what she was doing. They were thrilled with all they saw, so much so that her father exclaimed: “How I would love to come and work here, if I were twenty years younger!” They stayed for about a week and we all had a chance to meet the couple. 
There was one unforgettable get-together in our Glenview home, when Don Tomás related to us the dramatic crossing of the Pyrenees with St. Josémaría in the company of several other young men. More than telling us about it, he relived it. We hung on his words, and at the same time I noticed how Paquita sat nearby, listening in the background, quietly supporting her husband. It was always like that. 
They visited Kianda School and the Faida Club, where the children made Tomás an Honorary Club Member and presented him with a Certificate… One moment when we were alone, Paquita told me how amused she had been when years ago she overheard an answer Concha gave to her older sister. Maria Isabel had called her from another room and Concha, aged three, replied: “I’m coming because I want to, not because you say so.” 
Freedom was an important aspect of the education the Alviras gave to their children and by the time Concha came along this was well-rooted in the family. It has been a privilege to write this book, and I hope that, as Archbishop Ndingi wanted, it will help many married people to discover the beauty of the marriage vocation.

Friday, October 26, 2018

CHELSEA | Scary Stuff Coming Up

CHELSEA, NYC, October 26, 2018–Halloween decorations are already out in force, with less than a week until the end of the month.

Look at that house on West 22nd Street, with more huge spiders crawling around than you will find anywhere else in New York City other than Trump Tower. 

This year New Yorkers have a lot to be scared about, with midterm elections coming up in ten days.

If the Dems don't win at least the House majority, the man in the White House will continue to tweet and rally on, unchecked.

This year it pays to scare your fellow citizens into voting on November 6.

Meanwhile, the house at 314 West 22nd Street continues to set the pace in Halloween decoration.

My photo of it a few years ago in Chelsea Now appeared along with my award on behalf of the local block association as showing the Best Neighborhood Cooperation, because the display takes several families working together to give its effects.

Other winners that year, who will doubtless show their prowess again in 2018, were 439 and 457 West 22nd Street and 417 West 21st Street.

Send your nominations for a 2018 award and I will post them here. Send to me at teppermarlin[at]

Saturday, October 6, 2018

PORTSMOUTH ABBEY '58 | NY Yacht Club Dinner in Newport; then Clambake Lunch

At the Harbour Court of the NY Yacht Club in Newport. Seated, L to R: Denis Ambrose '58, John Hayes '58, Fred Torphy '58, John Tepper Marlin '58, Ramón Ferreyros '58. Standing, L to R: Jeanne Geddes, Alice Tepper Marlin, Hugh Ballantyne '58, Malena Lazo De La Vega, Carlos Cleary.
Friday evening, September 28, after lunch at the Castle Hill Inn and a tour of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, the Portsmouth Class of 1958 had dinner at the Harbour Court of the NY Yacht Club, also in Newport. We ate in the mansion's original dining room.

Classmate John Hayes surprised us by bringing us a gift of five bottles of two outstanding vintages from Montrachet vineyards in France that he owns with a partner.

Montrachet is an Appellation d'origine contrôlée and Grand Cru vineyard for white wine made of Chardonnay grapes in the Côte de Beaune sub-region of Burgundy. It straddles the border between the two communes of Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet and produces what many consider the world's greatest dry white wine. Four other Grand Cru vineyards with Montrachet in their names are humbler neighbors. 
Le Montrachet (Chassagne side) and Montrachet (Puligny side).
The Montrachet vineyards are almost equally divided between Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet. Both appellations append the name of their most famous vineyard (in this case a shared one) to the name of their main village.

The Côte de Beaune is the southern half of the Côte d'Or, the most important of the wine-producing subregions of Burgundy.

John Hayes explained that the first wine was light, a consumer favorite–2009 Puligny-Montrachet, La Truffière, 1er cru by Bruno Colin. Here's a collection of tasting reviews, all in the 90s out of 100.

The second was the local vintners' favorite–2008 Chassagne Montrachet, Clos St. Jean, 1er cru by Alex Gambal. Look it up online–you can't buy it on the sites I found, because it is sold out.

Having read what I wrote above, John sent me a followup note with more specifics about the Montrachet wines:
Montrachet is the famous vineyard that lies in both the towns of Chassagne Montrachet and Puligny Montrachet. The towns were formally Chassagne and Puligny and they affixed “Montrachet” to each for prestige purposes. 
The classifications for Burgundy are basically top to entry level: Grand Cru, Premier Cru (1er), Village and Bourgogne. The Grand Cru white wines are six: Montrachet, Batard Montrachet, Criots Batard Montrachet, Chevellier Montrachet, Bienvenue Batard Montrachet, contiguous and then Corton Charlemagne. We drank Premier Cru (1er) from Puligny Montrachet and Chassagne Montrachet. There are many premier Cru white and red wines in each town, as in most of the other towns in the Burgundy region. 
Both areas are the finest for white Burgundy wine. Five of the six Grand Cru white burgundy wines are from these two towns. Puligny is no way a lightweight. Truffière is rare, as the vineyard has less than 1 hectare of vineyards [that's 100m x100m=10,000 square meters, or 2.5 acres]. It’s a very special wine. Bruno Colin is from a family of winemakers many generations in the area.

The wine merchants sometimes say Puligny is for consumers and Chassagne for wine locals but you could argue that all day as they are both the best, just of a different style. I wasn’t referring to those two wines but to the areas.
Alex Gambal and I are partners in the winery in Beaune since 2003. He has come a long way and the wines are now even in Paris restaurants where Jeannie and I are about to go out to dinner.
The next day, Saturday, we were invited to attend classes at Portsmouth. I sat in on a course on American history and was there for the exciting bit when two lanterns were lit in Boston's Old North Church.

That was the signal for Paul Revere and a second rider to set off for Lexington and Concord to alert their militias that the redcoats were coming. The story was well told by the teacher, most of the students were engaged, and I was glad that the history of our country continues to be passed on to a new generation. 

Alice visited two classes and found the teaching of a course on religious history (St. Augustine and the Manichaean heresy) to be exceptionally well explained to students who were moderately engaged, while students in a class on Moby Dick were highly engaged even though (or because?) the teacher was less intensely concerned that the students "get" everything. Two classes, two styles.

We then had a clambake lunch with fine lobsters and other New England specialties. Six of us were snapped after lunch in the photo below.
Six of us at the clambake. L to R: John Tepper Marlin '58, Carlos Cleary (son of
George Cleary '58 who was in Venezuela and unable to obtain a visa to come),
Denis Ambrose '58, Ramon Ferreyros '58, John Hayes '58, and Fred Torphy '58.
Looking back at the 50th Reunion, here are some photos I took of that event (sorry, I didn't put in Guerrero's first name because I wasn't sure whether to use a W or a V; see note following):

Vladimir Guerrero sent a note to me explaining why he was unable to attend the 60th reunion. He said: 
Attached is a picture taken last week of my wife Deirdre and I showing off our culinary skills at a reunion of French and Norwegian friends on the coast. Please give my regards to those present, especially Ramón Ferreyros (the formidable fullback of the undefeated soccer team) and John Hayes (one of the pirates who took the “Ondine” to Providence the night before graduation). I hope you all have a great weekend. – Vladimir (Wlachy)
Here is the photo, much the worse for having been emailed and Screen Shotted:
Deirdre and Wlachy Guerrero, 2018.