News of Jay's passing reached me here a few days ago. Although we hadn't been in touch for years, the sinkhole it leaves in my formerly immutable vision of a world that included Jay, still and ever being Jay, is too wide to fill or cross.
We met and bonded in the basement office of the Taft Review, our high school newspaper. In retrospect, under the guidance of a loved English teacher/faculty adviser, Helen Griffin, the Review attracted an astonishing cohort of some of the best and brightest of Taft's 5,000+ students. Jay found his place as (What else?) our business manager. I was features editor. Our staff photographer was Stanley Kubrick. Our principal editorial writer was Leonard Sand, now the still-active Justice Emeritus for the Southern District of New York. Others became distinguished in less publicized fields.
During and after high school, for the still formative years of our lives, Jay had access to a spare '37 Studebaker belonging to his Uncle Jack. We used it to roam from Connecticut to Long Island, often double dating. He also had after-hours access to the DC Publication office in Manhattan, where we occasionally whiled away evenings, kibitzing and trying on the big leather executive chairs for size. Afternoons would often find us in a radio station sound booth watching the Superman radio series being broadcast. The director, Robert Maxwell, and his wife Jessica had taken Jay under their wing. Both influenced Jay's burgeoning creative sensitivity.
After he married Martha and they returned to New York, we again double dated. Jay was working for DC and he and Martha had set up housekeeping in an inventively converted Westport, CT barn.
Jay's favorite household toy was their new microwave oven, one of the first ever produced. He demonstrated how to cook bacon in less than two minutes so that it emerged lean, flat and nearly fat free. I use that method to this day. Dinner there was always a feast of laughter, supplemented by Martha's growing cookery skills.
Later, it was Jay and Stan who soberly delivered me, via subway, to the conscription office in Manhattan, where I was inducted into the U.S. Army on the mistaken premise that I could tip the Korean War in America's favor. By then I'd already quit an implacably boring job as an advertising copywriter to travel the world as a Pan Am steward...
The memories keep flooding back, but I'll stop here. Timothy Shriver's evocative eulogy captures my own reaction to Jay's death better than I could ever express it myself. I've saved it for a frame on my desk.
Steven, if you read this and care to share more of those memories, please get in touch.[email protected]