Friday, we leave for Paris for five nights. When the most interesting man in the world is free for dinner, you go. Since we met in December, I’ve done my homework. I’ve read his autobiography, bought the February 1948 Ladies Home Journal magazine, and contributed money to a movie being made about him. I plan to go to the premier in Ireland.
The post I wrote about “the most interesting man in the world” is the most viewed post of any I’ve written. John put a link to my post on his Facebook page and on his Wikipedia page. He said it was “well written”. If the few days after he acknowledged my post are my 15 minutes of fame, I’m fine with that. My son said, “Mom, an editor of the NY Times says you are a good writer”. As John did when we met, he made me feel special. He deftly pushed aside his new moniker with modesty and turned the spotlight on me.
His name is John G. Morris. He was the photo editor of Life Magazine, Ladies Home Journal, The Washington Post, and the NY Times. He was also the first president of Magnum Photos. His friends are the most important and influential photographers and journalists of the 20th century. Since we met in December, he’s been in Istanbul, New York, and Berlin. He seems blissfully unaware of the 95 candles on his last birthday cake. He’s amazing.
His book “Get the Picture” spans the time from his early career and first marriage until he moved to Paris in his late 60s and married his third wife. Each of his three wives pre-deceased him. He speaks of each wife fondly. I used to think a well lived life was a pain-free life. If you made it thru life with no loss, you were extremely lucky and had cause for happiness. I realize a well lived life can have its share of pain and loss. John hasn’t let his pain define him. I realize a well lived life is not always a pain-free life, but a life where the best and worst days are put in context of the long haul. It’s a life of resilience and hope in spite of painful loss.
During John’s tenure at the Ladies Home Journal, he published an ongoing series of “People are People” stories. The best photographers, the founders of Magnum, were dispatched globally to photograph people in everyday life. The February 1948 story was the work of John Steinbeck and Robert Capa. The captions and photos were the bi-product of their collaboration on the book “A Russian Journal”. Robert Capa was missioned to return with photos of a Russian family. He failed in this primary mission but photographed a family in Czechoslovakia instead. I found the magazine on ebay and bought it. My son will deliver the magazine when he visits us in Bratislava in June. I can’t wait to see Capa’s photos and read Steinbeck’s captions taken while our current home was behind the iron curtain.
John met a woman, Cathy Pearson, a few years ago at Chez Janou. This is the same restaurant where he, Pat, and I met in December. She was also smitten by John. Their serendipitous meeting resulted in a film on John’s life. For my 100 dollar contribution, I will go to the film premier. John’s friends and colleagues contributed the $25,000 needed to complete production. While he may deftly deflect my praise, the appreciation of his life by friends and colleagues can’t be denied. His spirit is recognized in the briefest of encounters. So while he denies my moniker for him, I stand by it. The most interesting man in the world awaits us in Paris. Of course, we’re going.