"Rochester had sprung up like a mush-
room, but no presage of decay could be
drawn from its hasty growth."
The day after his 101st birthday, novelist Henry W. Clune escorted my wife and me to a fine local restaurant, where we dined in the Henry Clune Room. "It's a sin to live this long," he said as we drained our preprandial martinis. We later repaired to his wooded estate for a nightcap and a chat into the midnight hours.
Henry had been rereading (with an array of glasses that have the magnifying power of Palomar's telescope) The Great Gatsby. "Somewhere in that book Fitzgerald mentions Gilda Gray," he said. "She was a friend of mine." We delved into Henry's library of scrapbooks, and sure enough, there was a faded telegram from 20' s glam our girl Gilda Gray.
Visits with Henry are like that: enormously pleasurable-and personalized-tours of the last hundred years. Henry is half as old as the American republic and has a much better memo ry. He has lived for seventy years in that most interesting of precincts, the outskirts of fame. (When, after a whirl wind courtship, he married Olympic swimmer Charlotte Boyle, daughter of rakish adventurer Joe "King of the Klondike" Boyle, the New York World immortalized swain Henry in "The wooing of Charlotte Boyle" and then...