Gore Vidal

I don’t have much to say about Gore Vidal except that he and my Uncle George were best friends when they were both very small kids.  Gore lived just around the corner from Uncle George, who lived in a hotel on Connecticut Avenue with his mother (my grandmother) Elizabeth Mortenson Marshall and his sister (my mother) Catherine Alexandra Marshall. I think Grandfather (George Preston Marshall) had separated from them by the time Mom was eight, George, Jr., was four, and Gore was George’s age. The year I have in mind is 1929. Gore had a fabulous model train set, and Uncle George used to join him to play with it, the two of them hanging around in his room for hours. I get the impression that they, like me, felt somewhat neglected most of the time. Grandfather was known not to like kids, and Grandmother was rather stodgy and aloof. Mom and George’s best friends were the servants. The apartments Gore lived in were the largest apartment complex in the world at the time, owned by the queen of Holland. Mom told me the names of the two hotels on Connecticut Avenue in which she spent most of her early youth, but I forget what they were. I have a feeling both were near Dupont Circle. As I mentioned elsewhere, Mom, George, and a nursemaid frequently went for walks on Connecticut Avenue and encountered Howard Taft, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (and former President), who was happy to meet them and walked hand in hand with Mom, talking all the time. He called such walks his “morning constitutionals”. She remembered all her life some of the things they talked about, but I don’t. Much of it was about American history, which is how she first got interested. I understand that Gore Vidal has now put aside all other interests to focus on American history, and though he’s full of complaints about America, things that have gone wrong and will have to be addressed sooner or later (such as the Supreme Court decision in the election that put Dubya into the White House), he’s probably our greatest patriot.

I consider myself liberal, like him, but he knows what it’s all about; I don’t. I hope the Wikipedia article on him soon does him justice. I just read the article on Herod the Great and was quite disappointed, as I am with the one on Barbara Thiering. I know she has few friends and hordes of bitter, hyperactive opponents, but why should people attack Herod the Great, of all people? Gore is gay, and that, of course, is bound to upset some people, but he ought to have enough admirers to keep the Wikipedia vandals at bay. I’m disappointed that Wikipedia is so slow to improve, and have little hope for Wiktionary. Incidentally, on being gay, I’m of the opinion that there’s nothing in the Bible to suggest that there’s anything wrong with it, and that the decision never to have children is an admirable one. I also agree that virginity and poverty are virtuous. If you disagree, just write me off as a kook, or even better, read the Bible.

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One Response

  1. A friend of mine just told me it might be more accurate to say not that Gore Vidal’s apartment complex was the largest in the world, but that it was among the largest, and that it might lend credibility. I don’t give a heck about such concerns. If I tell the truth, why should I care about credibility? Mom said it was the largest, and I’m repeating what she told me. That’s good enough for me. If she was wrong, big deal. I don’t even know Dutch royalty; that’s my buddy Bob Willem’s domain. There’s one of them he’d like to marry, named Margaret, I think. I wish him and his potential bride the best of tomorrows, but I’m seldom happy to see things change in Washington. I wonder what had to be torn down in order to make room for those apartments. I also wonder whether 1033 Cecil Place has changed since 1964, when I lived there, and the surrounding neighborhood. It was a terrible disappointment to me when the street in front of the White House was closed off, but the disappointment it might stave off, namely, a terrorist attack, would be far worse.

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