Everyday Matters: A Love Story

Overview

"When I was two, my mother taught me to stand up in my playpen, shake my fist, and shout, 'Votes for women!'" This is the story of a life that has spanned much of the twentieth century. It is the story of a long and happy marriage, of advances in women's rights, of forging a career as a writer (including the excitement of a big Hollywood sale), of the sometimes bewildering pace of progress, and of raising a family in a rapidly changing world. With her wit, insightful storytelling, and keen ear for offbeat anecdotes, Nardi Reeder Campion speaks ...
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Overview

"When I was two, my mother taught me to stand up in my playpen, shake my fist, and shout, 'Votes for women!'" This is the story of a life that has spanned much of the twentieth century. It is the story of a long and happy marriage, of advances in women's rights, of forging a career as a writer (including the excitement of a big Hollywood sale), of the sometimes bewildering pace of progress, and of raising a family in a rapidly changing world. With her wit, insightful storytelling, and keen ear for offbeat anecdotes, Nardi Reeder Campion speaks for a generation that has traveled from the Roaring Twenties into the twenty-first century. "We were before pantyhose, penicillin, and the pill..." Campion's address to a reunion of her Wellesley College class of 1938 has earned her a niche in cyberspace. Endlessly circulated via e-mail and even featured in an Ann Landers column, it combines Campion's charm, wisdom, and self-deprecating humor. She has now written a memoir distinguished by those same qualities.

"In our day, we got married first and then lived together. How quaint can you be?" Campion's memoir is, in part, the story of a long and loving marriage, one that lasted fifty-nine years and "survived four jobs, seven books, nine homes, and nineteen pets (not counting gerbils)." Whether she is describing the joys of marriage to a fun-loving husband or the pain of her son's emotional breakdown, the (sometimes mixed) blessings of grandchildren or the difficult decision to move into a retirement home, Campion's deft mix of humor and candor yields an appealing and engaging narrative. Always seeking to discover what is worthwhile, she writes movingly about love and about death.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Like Gaul, my life is divided into three parts: before Tom, with Tom, and after Tom," writes Campion of her late husband. Now 87, the author (Mother Ann Lee: Morning Star of the Shakers) looks back at her life, in particular lovingly immortalizing her 59-year marriage to Tom Campion, who was director of production for the New York Times and later vice-chancellor of UMass. at Amherst. In an upbeat, buoyant if superficial style, Campion recounts an essentially happy upper-middle-class life with a good-humored husband and five children. She's at her best describing the diverting ups and downs of their life together, such as the time she had to cook dinner for Times food critic Craig Claiborne and a reception the couple attended at the Clinton White House. An army brat raised in Kansas and the Panama Canal Zone, Campion grew up with a talent for making the best of things. Although she clearly revered her parents, she is forthright about their anti-Semitism, which ruined her older sister's marriage plans. The author also describes her despair over that sister's death many years later and the difficulty of coping with a son's emotional breakdown. Interestingly, despite her family's military background, Campion became a pacifist in college, but makes little mention of how her political beliefs evolved in later life. 22 b&w photos. (Oct. 29) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Humorous and insightful chronicle of a long life filled with interesting friends and experiences, shared for nearly six decades with an exceptional man. Still writing at 87 (the eponymous column for her local New Hampshire paper), Campion is one of those rare people who can recall both joyously and wisely a full existence, dwelling mostly in sunny uplands rather than the inevitable dark valleys. She is an accomplished raconteur; her stories of dinners with Craig Claiborne; a 1992 interview with Hillary Rodham Clinton (a fellow Wellesley graduate); and a conversation with E.B. White are exemplary, entertaining as well as informative. But these delightful anecdotes are only part of a book as notable for its personal testament as for its portrait of the early 20th century. In an address to her class of 1938 reunion-now a classic after its 1993 publication in The Boston Globe-Campion listed all the changes her generation had experienced. "We were before television, penicillin, nylon, Xerox," she noted. "Wellesley 'girls' were forbidden to wear pants and Harvard 'boys' thought only Hillbillies wore blue jeans . . . we had real fountain pens with real bottles of ink . . . and when Ray Noble slowly sang 'The Very Thought of You' we melted." Born in 1917 in Hawaii, where her military father was stationed, she numbered among her experiences as an army brat a voyage to Manila on the same boat as the honeymooning General MacArthur and a stint in Panama. In her last year at Wellesley, she met husband-to-be Tom Campion, a Harvard senior who taught her "that laughter is life's best solvent." This lesson helped as Tom changed jobs four times, they raised five children (one of whom had a breakdown incollege), and she wrote seven books, including one that became the movie The Long Gray Line. A memoir to savor for its many riches and, most of all, its zest.
From the Publisher
“Nardi Reeder Campion is one of the wittiest women around, and the proof is her new book.”—Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

“Campion is one of those rare people who can recall both joyously and wisely a full existence [and] she is an accomplished raconteur...as notable for its personal testament as for its portrait of the early 20th century...A memoir to savor for its many riches and most of all, its zest.”— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“It is not easy to write charmingly about one's own life, and even more treacherous to claim that such a life might be used as a lens to view the sweep of a century, but Nardi Reeder Campion pulls off this high-wire act with wit and grace.”—Wellesley Magazine

“[A] delightful book by a perceptive writer about a meaningful life together.”—The (Milford, NH) Cabinet

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584655381
  • Publisher: University Press of New England
  • Publication date: 3/31/2006
  • Pages: 252
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

NARDI REEDER CAMPION is the author of Over the Hill, You Pick Up Speed: Reflections on Aging (For Anyone Who Happens To) (UPNE, 2006) and of seven other books, including Bringing Up the Brass by Sergeant Marty Maher (the basis for the John Ford movie The Long Gray Line) and Mother Ann Lee, Morning Star of the Shakers (reissued by UPNE, 1990). She has written articles for the New York Times (including ten op-ed pieces), the Boston Globe, Reader's Digest, the Chicago Tribune, The New Yorker, Yankee, and other publications. Her column, "Everyday Matters," has appeared in the Valley News (NH) for twenty-five years.
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Read an Excerpt

"I met Nardi when she interviewed me at Dartmouth during the 1992 Presidential campaign. What I remember from that first encounter is that we shared a devotion to our alma mater, Wellesley, and spent most of our time laughing. That convinced me right off that Nardi was no ordinary journalist; in fact, there is nothing at all ordinary about her.

" . . . She became a friend I cherish and gladly share with all who know the joy of her company and caring."--Hillary Rodham Clinton, from the Foreword

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Table of Contents

Foreword xi
The Gratitude Attitude xiii
Introduction: We Were Before Pantyhose, Penicillin, and the Pill ... 1
I Before Tom 5
Army Brat 7
1 Votes for Women! 7
2 At Sea with General MacArthur 12
3 Women Can Slay Dragons 20
4 Sibling Revelry 22
5 The Great Book Escape 29
6 The Undiscovered Country 33
7 The Bent Twig 37
8 The Girl with the Glass Eye 40
9 The Little Princess of Fort Amador 46
Wellesley College 50
10 Why Send a Girl to College? 50
11 A Yearn to Learn 56
12 Something Only a Real Friend Would Do 61
13 Two Great Teachers: Failure and Orson Welles 64
II With Tom 69
Marriage, Kids, and The New York Times 71
14 The Little Colonel's Knight Comes Riding (in Joe Kennedy Jr.'s Car) 71
15 If You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It 75
16 Pregnancy and Pearl Harbor 82
17 New York on $10 87
18 From Magazine Article to Movie Contract 93
19 My Husband the Jokester 99
20 Father Knows Best? 102
21 Blizzard Baby 107
22 My Pen Pal E. B. White 111
23 "Speak What You Feel" 115
24 What? Me Cook for Craig Claiborne? 123
25 Searching for Robert Louis Stevenson 126
"Here Beginneth a New Life"-Amherst, Massachusetts 131
26 Six Rules to Live By 131
27 Mother Leads the Way 135
28 Left at the Gas Station 139
After the Kids Leave, the Fun Starts 144
29 Grandchildren Are the Real Payoff 144
30 My Husband the Car Thief 151
31 What Is Really Worth While? 156
32 New York on $1,000 161
33 Lost in the Moscow Metro 165
34 Landing in Ann Landers 170
Fifty Years of Sex 174
35 Fifty Years of Sex 174
36 There's No Such Thing As a Twenty-Five-Cent Cat 179
37 Is a Harvard Man Smarter Than a Chicken? 184
38 We Quit Drinking 187
39 Nobody Wants to Interview Hillary 192
The Beginning of the End 198
40 White House to Cancer Ward 198
41 Mom and Dad Go to Medical School 201
42 A Retirement Home? Never! 204
43 The Secret of Moving 208
44 Good-Bye for Now 213
III After Tom 217
Making Do and Carrying On 219
45 Searching for Virginia Woolf 219
46 Searching for Ernest Hemingway 223
A Coda 229
Index 231
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