Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sally Belfrage

For some reason, I have been thinking about her-- and about our meeting.
She was young, blonde, and beautiful. Very left-wing.
Daughter of Cedric Belfrage, English pro-Communist journalist who had been jailed. He may have written for our magazine, too--Fact. A muck-raking magazine.
I asked Sally B. to write for us, and gave her a great story idea: The last of the Scottsboro boys. He was living down South. The Scottsboro boys were a group of young black men unfairly accused of rape sometime in the 1930s, I believe.
I invited her to lunch. Oh, that's right, Ralph Ginzburg was supposed to join us, but at the last minute he demurred. I was nervous--having to go out with her myself. I was in awe of her. My dream--a beautiful left-winger.
I suffered from a deep sense of inferiority. Still do, to a certain extent.
Anyway, a wretched lunch. She was pugnacious. Argumentative. I mentioned liking a recent John Updike piece in the New Yorker, with the headline, Sox Fans Bid Kid Adieu, about Ted Willams. And a word he used to describe the ballplayers running to the outfield--"fluttered." No, she didn't like it. Very hostile.
I had promised her, what, $400? Her article was fine, and I sent her maybe $350. I didn't remember promising more than our usual payment.
She sent back my check, after an angry phone call.

Later, I read that she had married a Palestinian refugee. (Like another woman I admired, Diana Rigg.) And that she had died very young.

The memory of that miserable lunch occasionally pops into my mind.