Thursday, May 16, 2013

the last book I ever read (Remembering Denny by Calvin Trillin, excerpt ten)

from Remembering Denny by Calvin Trillin:

I must have seen Denny occasionally in New York during that period—I found a letter to my parents mentioning that I had met his boat when he returned from England—but I have a strong memory of only one meeting, at Princeton. I drove over from Fort Dix, New Jersey, where I was on temporary duty for a day or two as the driver for a major from our office on Governors Island—the public information office for First U.S. Army headquarters—who though he ought to be on hand to make certain that the mustering out of Elvis Presley went off without a hitch. Although Elvis was the symbol of rebellion, the entertainer who many thought could not appear on the Ed Sullivan Show because of his lewd gyrations, his manager had decided that it would be a good career move for him to report cheerfully for the draft and serve two years in an Army line unit with ordinary draftees—a reflection of how far rebellion went in the late fifties. The Elvis mustering out was not my only brush with the celebrated during my Army career. When General Douglas MacArthur, long retired from active duty, had a prostate operation at Lenox Hill Hospital, I was part of a group assigned to work out of a room down the hall writing releases on how many pats of butter and soft-boiled eggs he had consumed each day during his recuperation—a military operation we referred to as the “wee-wee patrol.” When Nikita Khrushchev, on his first trip to the United States, arrived in New York by train from Washington and turned to wave out the window to the waiting throngs, he found only me—a solitary figure on an adjoining platform, dressed in the uniform of an Army private, holding the bull mike I had just used to inform the press traveling on another train which stairway to take. I waved back.

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