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Scott and Me

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Sunday, 19 April 2009 in Uncategorized

 Recently I received an invitation to speak in Regina, Saskatchewan.  Of course I said yes.  It is someplace I would never see, otherwise!  But here's the astonishing thing: the invitation was for the spring of 2012.

I am 72 years old.  In the spring of 2012 I'll be 75. Assuming I am still alive. And functional.  This morning's NY Times has an article about Margaret Drabble, who has called it quits, writing-wise, because she is 69 and feels she has nothing left to say.

Scott O'Dell died at 91 and was working on a  new book, I was told by his editor, when he died.  So I am thinking of Scott O'Dell and hoping to emulate him, instead of Margaret Drabble.

And here is a funny Scott O'Dell story,  Two, actually.

In 1979 I was in New York for whatever convention was being held there---probably ALA---and I was invited to a cocktail party honoring Scott O'Dell.  I was in my hotel room, alone, getting dressed to go that party, when I realized that I couldn't reach the middle button on the back of my dress.  It was just at that one place that was unreachable though I contorted myself trying before I gave up.  Finally I decided the heck with it, and I left my room with the button unbuttoned.

I got into the elevator and there was a pleasant looking couple already in it.  The wife was middle-aged; her husband somewhat elderly.  So I explained my silly problem and the gentleman buttoned my button.

I thanked them. I left the elevator and from the hotel, fully buttoned, I walked to---I think it was the St. Regis--where the crowded party was taking place. The throngs of us, me included, all raised our glasses of wine to toast guest of honor. And that's when I discovered that the man who had buttoned my dress was Scott O'Dell.

That was Story #1.  Here is #2:

Years passed.  Jump ahead maybe nine or ten years, and now I was one of two speakers at a luncheon at Vassar College. I was speaking second, after the major speaker---Scott O'Dell---who by this time was 90 or maybe even 91. It was shortly before he died.

I thought, as I sat there eating my chicken, that when it was my turn to speak, I would say that the last time I had been this close to Scott O'Dell was when we were together in a New York hotel elevator in 1979, and I had been wearing an unbuttoned dress.

But when he stood up to speak, HE said that the last time he'd been with Lois Lowry she had been wearing an unbuttoned dress in a New York hotel elevator.

How can Margaret Drabble have run out of material at age 69?

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