Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Linda's toast about Charlotte's introductions on the Titanic

In yesterday's tribute to the late Linda Urbach, I referred to her deliciously crafted toasts.  The one below, delivered on my mother's 80th birthday, was one of her best.
    My brother-in-law Tom Lord read it recently and remarked that it was as funny now as in 1997; in fact, remarkably so.  Read it and see for yourself.  :-)
Getting to Know Charlotte Clark
Delivered by Linda Howard
Sept. 5, 1997, Harwich Port, Mass.

     I first met Charlotte Clark aboard the Titanic. I was
holding on the rail for dear life when Charlotte came up to
me, introduced herself and said, “I’d like you to meet
someone. Linda, this is Mrs. Astor. Mrs. Astor, this is Linda.”
Mrs. Astor was white as a sheet. “We’re sinking, we’re
sinking!” She shrieked.
    “Mrs. Astor lives in New York,” Charlotte explained to me.
    “Linda lives in New York, too,” she informed Mrs. Astor.
     “Oh, my God,” moaned Mrs. Astor, and she slipped away
into the sea.
     “Mrs. Clark,” I said. “Call me Charlotte,” she corrected.
     “Charlotte, I think we’re going down.”
    “Not before you meet the Captain,” she insisted. “Oh Captain, my Captain,” she
beckoned charmingly, “I want you to meet my new friend
Linda from New York. Linda, this is our Captain.”
   Well, it went on that way as people slipped past us into the ocean,
stopping only momentarily so that Charlotte could make her
      We all have our little idiosyncrasies. Lady Macbeth had
her spots. Jack Kerouac had his road. Charlotte has her
      To paraphrase Will Rogers, she never liked a
man she hasn’t met. She isn’t happy until everyone she
knows meets everyone else she knows. Not just meets, but
memorizes the exact moment of their meeting, the names
and ages of all their children and, most importantly, their
accumulated grade point averages.
     I talked to her son Stocky about this. He told me once he tried to limit her to five
introductions during one particular party. Well, you can just
imagine the results. She ended up by introducing him to over
250 people that night including the mayor of Boston, the
Secretary General of the U.N. and the novelist John Updike.
And they weren’t even at that party.
      In my family they were terrified of ever introducing me to
anyone. I was sullen, rude and prone to violent outbursts
when confronted with an unfamiliar face. But that didn’t stop
Charlotte. I was fresh meat to her – a veritable blank sheet,
an Unintroduced Person. Since first coming to the Cape with
her son Tucker on Memorial Day, 1975, I have met a total of
34,987 people. After introducing me to the entire town of
Harwich Port, she took me out by Exit 10 off Route 6 and
introduced me to 78 passing vehicles before the State
Troopers came. And then she introduced me to them as well.
“Officer Borden, Officer Mahoney, I’d like you to meet my
daughter-in-law Linda. There’s no doubt in my mind that
Charlotte Cushwa Clark will be around for many years to
come to introduce the few million people that still haven’t met

each other yet, “Uma…Oona…Oona…Oprah…Oprah….Uma…”


Beth Seibel-Hunt said...

I remember that toast and we were all in stitches as usual under LINDA'S SPELL!

shashinyc said...

Wonderful, Brooks! Jerry Travis and I are old friends of Tucker and met Linda several times (including one memorable meal in Harwich Port with the Clark clan)...despite undoubtedly horrible private moments, Linda handled her devastating illness publicly with that incredible wit and elan, a remarkable gift to those who loved her. I know what a loss this is to your family. Jerry and I extend our sympathies.

shashinyc said... is from Sharon Gold