As she concluded her conversation with us last Saturday, Jackie Kennedy (Leslie Goddard) held up the 1960′s music album, Camelot. She spoke softly of how she and Jack played its soundtrack at night, and she recalled those lifting lyrics of “there’s simply not, a more congenial spot, for happily- ever- aftering than here in Camelot“. The song has hummed about my head all week as I traveled in the snow, pretending to be in “a more congenial spot”, my memories wending back to my first trip to Camelot.
As the make-up editor of the school newspaper my senior year of high school, I had the privilege of several interesting outings, press conferences, and close encounters with a few famous people. My responsibility was to arrange the stories on the pages of the newspaper, write the headlines, crop and paste pictures, etc. This, dear reader, was in the days where printing was done off campus. We published an eight page newspaper, twice a week, and we did it during a school year that saw historic snowstorms, the assassination of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, not to mention that our own school’s civil unrest. Our reporters were often rewriting stories and writing breaking news stories at the drop of a hat, all while serving in other clubs and being students. Several were National Merit Scholars, most of us were in the National Honor Society, all of us loved the lure of newspapers. We never missed a deadline. It was exciting and an educational experience that I have never forgotten.
We also got to meet notables of the time; astronaut Eugene Cernan, actress Carol Lawrence (who was married to Robert Goulet, Broadway’s handsome Sir Lancelot), Hugh O’Brien (aka Wyatt Earp), and advice columnist Ann Landers, who gave advice I failed to heed and for which I am paying for today. Another story for another day.
Then, there was Camelot. Janice, and I were assigned the task of Camelot. A showing of the Lerner and Lowe movie musical was playing at one of the ornate, downtown Chicago theaters and we were to do a movie review. Suburban busses and city trains took us to the theater, our seats were procured, and there we were, in Camelot instead of English and Chemistry. The costumes, the music, Sir Lancelot’s blue eyes, King Arthur’s vision of Camelot, Merlin’s aging, Lady Guinevere. Ah, Guinevere.
Janice was the editor-in-chief, and she gave me the responsibility of writing the review. I had never done a theater review before. It needed to be three hundred words, and it needed to be done in two days. I spent hours in the library reading movie reviews, writing down my own thoughts, then typing, and re-typing, the magical moments and musical refrains buoying me up, until my words were done. It was, I was told, a job well done, and off it and the news and the sports and editorials went, to press; and off I went to my daydreams of Camelot.
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