Thursday, August 8, 2019

the last book I ever read (Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing by Robert A. Caro, excerpt eight)

from Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing by Robert A. Caro:

Over coffee in the Villa Capri café, they told me about Alice, who was not at the time of the photographs actually Alice Marsh but still Alice Glass. And her sister, Mary Louise Glass, took out her wallet and showed me her photograph, which of course was a picture of the woman in the leather traveling portfolio upstairs, and told me that if I wanted to find out more about her I should go to their hometown, Marlin, and there talk particularly to Posh Oltorf, the Brown & Root lobbyist, who had been her close platonic friend.

Over the next few weeks, Ina and I drove up to that sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere several times, and heard enough to know that Alice Glass was in truth not just another bimbo, that although, as I was to write, “Alice Glass was from a country town…she was never a country girl,” that she had come to Austin as a secretary to a state legislator, that, as one legislator recalled, “Austin had never seen anything like her,” a woman a shade under six feet tall with reddish blond hair that, if she loosened it fell to her waist, creamy-white skin and features so classic that the famed photographer Arnold Genthe was to call her “the most beautiful woman” he had ever seen; that on the same night Charles Marsh met her, he left his wife and children and took her east, and that, when, on a trip to England, she saw the majestic eighteenth-century manor house called “Longlea,” he built her a replica of it on a thousand-acre estate in the Virginia Hunt Country, where she led the Hazelmere Hunt (“the only thing Texas about Alice was her riding,” a friend told me; “she could really ride”), and created a glittering salon of journalists and politicians—to which, in 1937, the new congressman from Texas was invited with Lady Bird, and soon began coming weekend after weekend. At first, her sister and her friend said, both Johnsons came, but soon, they said, “he would leave her on weekends, weekend after weekend,” and come to Longlea, where “sometimes Charles would be there, and sometimes Charles wouldn’t be there,” because Lyndon and Alice had become lovers, in an affair that lasted for years, right under the nose of a man vitally important to Lyndon’s career.

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