Alone Together by Edes Powell Gilbert, ’49. A long time educator in New York City, serving for many years as the headmistress of Spence, Edes was well known to the Friends community, often serving on boards and committees. A personal memoir that she wrote for her children and grandchildren, Alone Togetheralso conveys the feel of New York in the forties, from the automats to the exhilarating day in 1947 when a blizzard made New York stand still, and kids could make snow angels on Fourteenth Street. (I remember that day too – pulling our flexible flyers down the deserted streets to the park). Her eye for detail and her fine memory bring to life her coming of age in a time when expectations for girls were more narrowly defined. Those who remember Dr. Hunter will appreciate her tribute to his enduring influence.
May 6, 2019
Not That Kind of a Girl, A young woman tells you what she has “learned” by Lena Dunham, attended lower school. I really enjoyed Lena Dunham’s series Girls, and was intrigued to hear that she had attended Friends. So, she’s “not that kind of girl.” In my day that was what we said to put off unwanted amorous advances. What could it mean after the sexual revolution? In Lena’s case I can’t imagine, but I’m not sure she’s any kind of a girl; to me, her original voice is sui generis . At first I thought she had taken on the pose of a fausse naïve, who faked the surprise of a newborn as she faced all of life’s little adventures. After reading this book, I see her more as a curious and troubled spirit who is generous enough to put into words her experiences, stripped of any prepackaged filmy overlay. What I though was a pose is the real thing. She tells her story more thematically than chronologically (love and sex, body, friends, work), but it all leads to a sweeping feminist vision: “And the goal is big: radical self-acceptance for woman everywhere, political change so total it shakes the ground, justice and joy for those who have been used and tossed aside. And the goal is small: utter and unbridled selfhood.” As my daughter would say, “You go, girl!”