When I was in college at the University of Arizona, I met a delightful and charming woman by the name of Sarah who happened to be in three of my art history classes.
We found it so amusing that the two of us were in so many classes together that it was inevitable we would become friends.
The year was 1965 and I had taken a light class load because I was working almost full-time on the production of a major exhibition that would open across campus on November 1, a tribute to President John F. Kennedy.
I had produced a smaller version of the show the previous year to much success and the idea of producing a much larger show was something the University Library was excited about and agreed to sponsor, which like the first, was based on my extensive magazine collection.
Sarah and I became chums and the following December, weeks after the Kennedy show closed, she invited me to a cocktail party at her Uncle Jack's house, which was adjacent to The Arizona Inn, the spectacular resort owned by the family.
I had never been to a cocktail party before and so I asked Sarah what I should wear.
"Do you have a jacket and tie?" she inquired. I said I did and she replied that would be fine.
I had already been to Sarah's house which was so large that I quipped to her as I walked into it for the first time that I thought it was a Hilton.
As I waited in the living room while Sarah was inside, I happened to glance at a photo album on the table and was shocked to discover photographs of Teddy Roosevelt.
When Sarah came into the room, I asked her about the pictures and she casually commented that they were taken when Teddy and his bride honeymooned at the family ranch in Northern Arizona, in the town of Williams, not far from the Grand Canyon. This event took place around the turn of the century.
I also learned from Sarah that her grandmother, Isabella Greenway, was the first woman to serve in Congress from the state of Arizona and that she also founded The Arizona Inn, which the family still owned.
I realized that quite unwittingly I was now associated with perhaps the most prominent family in Arizona and it was a revelation, particularly since I was a third generation Italian-American who knew nothing about high society.
Indeed, my world and the world of the Greenways had nothing in common, and other than the fact of my chance meeting with Sarah, the odds of my becoming part of their world were nil.
But it was the success of the Kennedy show that resulted in the invitation I received to the stellar cocktail party at her Uncle Jack's house.
Sarah and I were just friends - we were not involved at all - and there was simply no reason why she should have asked me to the party other than the fact that because of the Kennedy show I just happened to be the most acclaimed student at the University of Arizona in the fall of 1965.
Everyone knew who I was. The show was a tremendous success and was covered extensively by the press. I even received letters from Bobby Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy thanking me for my efforts.
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