It was 1971. The song – no surprise to anyone who was young then, was Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream, Ed McCurdy’s anti-war anthem. We knew we couldn’t get married in the middle of the war that had defined much of our lives without acknowledging it, and the song was the perfect way. Margot was amazing, her voice clear and passionate; people even cried as we two 20-somethings stood, mid-ceremony, and Margot sang. She had a great voice, had actually been a music person forever, and attended the famed Music and Art High School in Manhattan.
We met cute. A friend brought her into the Senate Radio-TV Gallery, just off the press balcony overlooking the Senate. Reporters wrote their spots there, and there was a small studio where Senators could come and make statements for the cameras. I didn’t know Margot, but her Pacifica Radio friend knew she had a question that any pal of Margot’s would have loved.
“Pacifica (the progressive, listener-supported NY-based FM radio station) wants to hire me to cover the White House. I’ve just come back from Cuba where I was helping the Venceremos Brigade harvest sugar cane. Will that be a problem?”
This was Richard Nixon’s White House she was asking about. You can imagine my answer.
It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
From then on, until I left Washington with the man who is still my husband, our adventures were many, and varied and intense. The moment that rises to the top though, is a small one, very Margot – precise and painful.
We had seen Love Story, the shameless, sentimental, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” Love Story. (Yeah, I know, but everyone went – even politicos like us.) She was quite upset, more than I would have thought – and I never go by Mt. Sinai Hospital on Fifth Ave without remembering it. “What I hated most” she said, “was the scene on the street outside the hospital where my mother died. It was like they threw it in there to make the whole thing extra painful.”
It’s a small story but it always stayed with me. Along with the time we came to NY after we had moved to Palo Alto so Rick could finish school. We were staying with her and we walked in and there in the front hall was her altar. It was the first time we learned of her decision to follow her Wiccan self and it was such a weird way to find out. She kind of said “Well I couldn’t just put it in a letter, right?”
She was, of course, a brilliant reporter and writer and thinker. She was fun and alive and full of curiosity and political brilliance and personal warmth and charm. I hadn’t seen her in a long time, but this week, she’s very much with me, along with the memories of that day, and of course, this song.