Monday, September 29, 2008

NYSocialDiary Remembers Paul Newman

(image via JH/nysocialdiary)

There are lots of Paul Newman stories out there. Our favorite was this one by Gore Vidal, recounting a conversation with his old friend (from pierretristam): "Paul did tell me that when he was a young sailor, on a troopship in the Pacific, `I went up on deck with a copy of Nietzsche to improve my mind.' While he was improving his mind, a kindly chaplain engaged him in a conversation, then made a pass. Paul shook his head. `Now that really put me off.' `Off Christianity or homosexuality?'`Neither. Nietzsche.'”

Unlike so many limousine liberals, Newman leveraged his power to create a brand -- Newman's Own -- that funneled millions into helping the disadvantaged. Newman, who is also one of the owner of The Nation, died early this weekend. NYSocialDiary today publishes a recollection from Joe Armstrong, the Mayor of Michaels, who knew old blue eyes:

"My friend Joe Armstrong has been volunteering for a week for several summers now as a Counselor at one of the Newman’s Own Hole in the Wall camps. Paul Newman and he shared many several mutual friends. I asked Joe last night if he’d share some memories of the man:

Last year at the camp, Newman walked over to me and said 'Armstrong, don't forget that a lot of these kids are a lot sicker than they look and act. But it's hard to see sometimes because they are having the time of their lives. My admiration and respect for these kids is enormous.'

He told me in his always modest way, 'Last summer I was sitting at a table of small guys --- hell, they probably hadn't seen any of my pictures and didn't know who I was.'

But this one really bright inner-city kid kept looking at me then looking back on the side of the lemonade carton where my picture was, and then he'd look back and study my face, and then back to the lemonade cartoon. He did it over and over, until he was totally baffled and confused. And then I could see he got a bright idea. He looked right up at me and said 'are you lost?'

Talking about my tenure there, he said to me 'Joe you are one of our oldest volunteers who lives night and day in the cabin with the kids and watches over them for one long, solid week. I did what you are doing,' he said, 'until I was about 75.'"

Much, much more here.

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