When my sister Lisa and I were brainstorming the drawers for this curio cabinet, I wanted a place to reflect on the idea that while youth is impermanent, we can always cultivate youthfulness. We can learn a new sport or art form. We can reinvent those parts of ourselves that no longer reflect who we are becoming. We can befriend those who are younger than we are. If we’re grandparents, we can allow ourselves to be swept up in our grandkids’ imaginary play and their joys as they experience so much of life for the first time. This is what Kids @ Heart means to me.
So what does this have to do with author/photographer Jill Krementz? I’m so happy you asked. My first job post-college was at Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. the top publishing house at the time. In my mind and heart still is. It was a heady year for me. Being the receptionist meant I greeted everyone and anyone who got off at the 21st floor. That was the year I met Chaim Potok, David Halberstam, Lauren Bacall and Arthur Rubinstein. I didn’t recognize Diane Keaton because she looked like every other Annie Hall wannabe of the day. Anna Thomas, author of the The Vegetarian Epicure got off the elevator dressed not like a flower child but a Vogue model. I still remember my astonishment when the sleek woman in a white sleeveless wool dress and knockout gold jewelry introduced herself.
And then there was Jill Krementz’s “A Very Young…” series. I wish I still had my copies of the ones published while I was at Knopf. They were beautifully photographed and portrayed the challenges and joys of (pre-adolescent) females who devote themselves to a singular passion. Some of the editors spoke dismissively of her theme of celebrating these dedicated young women. Others smirked at her wardrobe of Laura Ashely dresses and suits, as if she were trying to imitate the youth of her subjects. She was all of thirty-eight back then. Alas, when Ms. Krementz arrived for meetings with her editor I heard echoes of the office snarkiness before she even said hello.
The sixteen year difference in our ages is much less than it was 45 years ago. I love wearing playful clothes which for me constitute red cowboy boots, batik-printed overalls, a peach striped T-shirt strewn with oranges and a white buttondown across which fly small silhouetted navy and lavender birds. (I don’t wear these all at once.) When I ws a very young receptionist Jill Krementz, without either of us realizing it, taught me to be myself. To wear what makes me smile. To open my closet door and see delight in the making.
In preparing for this post, I looked up Ms. Krementz. She is now 83. She has one daughter. Her daughter’s young son is being treated for leukemia. As one grandmother to another, I pray for her grandson’s full recovery.