A toast in 1982

While searching for Ann Daingerfield photos, I’ve come across lots of others that bring back memories, including this one from 1982:

Tamara Hareven, Preston Cutler, and me, with Tamara and me offering a toast to the MSSB (the Mathematical Social Sciences Board) at the “graduation ceremony” at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, where Tamara and I were fellows in 1981-82.

(This picture reminds me of why nice Jewish women used to try to pick me up. My yiddishkeit is a topic for another posting, however.)

Preston was associate director of CASBS under its founding director, Ralph W. Tyler, and managed MSSB from its beginnings in the middle 60s. Tamara and I both had NSF-supported grants from MSSB (mine in 1968 and 1969 at Illinois, in 1970 at Ohio State), and we knew Preston only as the person who made arrangements with us, by mail. And then we got to meet him at CASBS and thank him for all his efforts on our behalf. It was a very happy moment.

Now for some words about Tamara, who was one of my closest friends at CASBS that year. An edited and updated version of a message I sent to friends early in November 2002, on the occasion of the NYT obit  for “Tamara Kern Hareven, 65, social historian of the family”:

Tamara was one in a series of Difficult Friends, delightful people who need high maintenance. She loved new experiences, new ideas, food, gardens, and much more. She was also highly anxious and had little middle space between intense attachment and cool distance.

The NYT obit left out all the human stuff. It said she was born in a village now in Ukraine, then in Romania, but left out the fact that her family was part of a German-speaking (high bourgeois) Jewish enclave. The obit took her from birth to undergraduate work at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, leaving out the concentration camp and refugee camp in between, experiences that left her with anxiety, a drive to affiliation, and a walling-off of those who might be enemies.

Her research concerned work, mostly manual work, and family life, mostly of women. In Austria, Japan, India, France, New England, and many other places — quite a trick for someone who was pathologically fearful of airplanes. She had an instant and unmistakable empathy with ordinary folks; the fact that she was essentially a Martian to everyone else in the whole world worked to her advantage, especially in combination with her evident respect for people.

The year at CASBS she and her husband (significantly younger Harvard-educated documentary photographer and architectural conservationist Randolph Langenbach, a New England WASP), who was coming out then, started the process of divorcing, which turned really nasty when it came to the division of the cats. Ann Daingerfield and I did our best to mediate, but in the end we were on the Other Side, with Ran and his partner Fred Hertz (a lawyer), and we heard little from Tamara for many years. For some years, when she was at Harvard, she lived up the street from my friends Tim and Lucy Scanlon, so I occasionally got news about her from them.

(Back at CASBS, I did my little bit for Tamara and Ran by helping with the jacket copy for a new edition of their 1978 book Amoskeag: Life and Work in an American Factory-City, with text by Tamara and photos by Ran. Still in print, and worth looking at.)

Some years back Fred and I (Fred and Ran live in Oakland, for nearly 30 years now) went to hear a (wonderful) talk Tamara gave at a conference at Stanford, and I talked to her briefly afterwards. She was delighted to see me, and even to see Fred (who stayed off in the middle distance), but there was an unbridgeable divide and it was clear she and I would never be close again.

Tamara is the focus of my famous story about going walking with a friend in a local foothills park, when she was stung on the neck by a yellowjacket, quickly developed hives, and then had to be coaxed (at the end, virtually carried — she was having great trouble breathing by this point) down the mountain to my car (she never learned to drive, which everyone thought was a Good Thing) and a nightmare ride to the emergency room at Stanford Hospital, where I said “She’s in anaphylactic shock” and they inserted a wheelchair under her and whisked her away for magic injections. And an hour later she insisted I take her to a local market where she could buy cracked crab so we could have a Feast of Death Averted.

Now, there’s almost no one left who knew Tamara and me together. Ran, of course. But Ann Daingerfield is dead. So is my man Jacques, who was close to all of us. All the CASBS fellows we were both close to have died. But I have this happy picture.

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