Tag Archives: history


Long before it became a song or included in quizzes, “Do you know who you are?” was one of those instantaneous, absurd (yet common) questions most starstruck fans would ask a celebrity encountered on the streets of New York City. Not that I knew it in March of 1973 and not that I’ve made a fool of myself by uttering the question ever again. In fact, I was embarrassed and surprised I did the one time.Scan 2019-3-12 15.14.08

But we were young and giddy and on our way to Julius’ in the West Village to celebrate our anniversary with out-of-town friends when I spotted Lily Tomlin walking towards us on Greenwich Avenue in the West Village.

“Do you know who you are?” The words just gushed out.

“Gee, I think so,” was Lily’s reply, and “sure” to my request to take her photo. The shorter girl with blonde hair accompanying her hurried back out of frame range and, even though I waved her back in, she’d have nothing to do with the invite.

Apparently gaydar was down that day because none of us picked up on the other as being a couple. Or maybe an over abundance of happiness was drowning the frequency out? Because they would have been enjoying their first year together around then to our third. Which means this must be their 47th anniversary year to our 49th.

Oh happy daze!

~ ~ ~

I rode in my first limousine on New Year’s Eve, 1973. Our friend, Tom Dale, was a market research specialist and producer of television commercials who lived in a penthouse on East 48th Street and needed to be seen on the town with arm candy as a guise for his closeted true self. Elizabeth and I were his go-to-gal-pals and happily so. It afforded us the luxury to eat at the most trendy restaurants, attend posh events, and always have third row orchestra seats on the aisle at Broadway shows. That New Year’s Eve we’d seen Pippin’ at The Music Box Theater on West 45th Street.


The show let out to throngs of partygoers who had already gathered in Times Square and beyond anticipating the ball dropping at midnight to welcome the start of 1974. At some point the limo needed to cross Broadway to the east side. When the police separated the crowds enough for traffic from the theater district to pass through, the people began to touch the darkened windows, hoping to get a glimpse of a celebrity hidden inside.


At that moment I realized how much more we identified with those oozing joy on the outside of the limo freezing in the streets than we’d ever be like those presumed to be riding within. I’ve never ceased wondering who’s hidden behind the tinted windows of limousines — but I stopped assuming it was anyone famous long, long ago.

Three weeks later, after attending Liza Minnelli Live At The Winter Garden, we joined Tom’s chum, Ted, for dinner at his private table in Ted Hook’s Backstage Restaurant next door to the Martin Beck Theater. Besides being a former hoofer in the chorus of more than 400 movies, Ted served as Talulah Bankhead’s personal secretary for five years and regularly entertained friends and customers with intimate stories of the star.



Seriously, Mom, you didn’t Know? by Marguerite Quantaine Copyright © 2019

currently available on Amazon, Kindle, and in bookstores nationwide.



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I remember when the first articles were published by researchists revealing that hot dogs were dangerously bad for us (I stopped eating them), as was peanut butter (I cut back), and eggs (I wasn’t dissuaded), and donuts (get outta town!).

Much like telling those who bet on the horses that races are rigged, or lottery hopefuls that the odds are stacked against them, or fans that an event is sold out, or kids younger that seven that there is no Santa Claus — learning the dire details involving comfort foods did more harm than good, because (regardless of fact accuracy and well-intended truths) it robbed the partakers of the enjoyment of doing what wasn’t necessarily wise, or profitable.

And that’s about all my 15 hour post, And The Winner Is … Not Me, accomplished. It exposed something that everyone probably knew, but no one wanted to admit, because the happy habit was universally shared, and the group addiction did no harm.

I was wrong.

I apologize.

I took the long way down a wary road best navigated by denial, when only the end result was required reading.  That, in essence, is this:

The finest award a writer can be given is the feeling of joy that comes from writing a worthy book. It’s incomparable. It can’t be taken away. It’s what makes you a winner.

And, should your book receive a good review, or is given as a gift, or mentioned to friends, or ordered by a library, or suggested to a book club, or introduced at meetings, or touted at functions, or buzzed about on buses, or pondered by strangers, or discussed by family members, or serves as dining repartee  — well, that’s the mustard on the hot dog, the jelly on the Jif,  the sun in the sunny side up, and the icing on the donut.

Gobble, gobble.

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Copyright by Marguerite Quantaine 2015

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Me, Minus 33 Years

Me, Minus 33 Years

My face popped up in the right hand corner of the screen as guest anchor, Peter Jennings, introduced the closing story on ABC World News Tonight one Friday in 1981. I’d authored an oversized, limited edition reference book under the Americanized spelling of my last name and it somehow engendered enough interest to garner a mention on national television.

I look back at it as pure luck now because, as any author (past or present) will confirm, writing a book can be exhilarating — but marketing it is exhausting.

Back then, individualized press releases were expected to be composed and printed to accompany personally written letters, each snail-mailed at considerable expense to those listed in Editor & Publisher Yearbook nationwide. Even for a book as minor as mine, the effort required to sell it seemed mammoth compared to the time it took to write. That made getting featured during prime time on ABC with Peter Jennings equal to an eagle feather in a yarmulke.

The follow-up was a headline and shout-out in the Sunday New York Times — not by a book reviewer, but by the much respected and often feared antiques and arts columnist, Rita Reif. I’d caught a wave, did some appearances, signings, a few more interviews, and a stint on PM New York, all culminating in a monthly column syndicated in a dozen trade publications for a couple years. It was a flattering, generally enjoyable, often tiresome experience that I was grateful ended after it contributed to resurrecting a fad that others were tooth-and-claw dedicated to treating as a full time endeavor.

Because, regardless of how glamorous it may sound or look, that’s what even miniscule fame and fleeting fortune boils down to; an eagerness and need to become the product by foregoing (and oft times, forgetting) the person.

I was never willing to put anything before my personal life.

I’m still not.

…and more

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Ergo, E Q U A L I T Y

Ergo, E Q U A L I T Y

Gays are scary people.

Not the gay next door who provides for his parents and carpools his nieces to day care. Or the fellow who fixes my car. Or the lady who cuts my hair.

It’s only the media-hyped homosexual that makes me cringe and withdraw. Those clusters of erotic exhibitionists captured on camera for our viewing displeasure. Scurrilous straights cause me discomfort. But vulgar gays make me ashamed.

Harvey Fierstein has expressed impatience with people like me. He once called us “leeches” sitting silent on the sidelines while proud gays pave the way to equal rights for the majority of us “slackers.”

I like Harvey a lot. I admire and respect him for his courage and integrity. I think he’s a superb actor and writer and a fine role model. He gives gays spirit.

But I don’t think he understands that most gays don’t want to be enslaved by the duplicities of straight society. We don’t want to clone our ethics, or edit our emotions, or conform our lives to any corrupted concept of happily ever after.

If I could sit down with Harvey Fierstein, I’d tell him I’ve been hopelessly in love with the same woman for 43 years. But we won’t wed, not even though we work to support those who choose to. Not even if the Supreme Court makes marriage rights a reality.

Because, for most of my generation, love is our legacy. Not marriage. We aren’t joined by dowry, arrangement, prestige, or necessity. We aren’t bound by license, law, or nuptial contract. We don’t stay together for the sake of religion, parents, children, social stigma, economics, or expediency.

We’re connected only by love. Since time began, it’s has been the code of our culture. And, since love is holy, what we have is sacred.

So, I’d assure Harvey that – even though the alleged “gay agenda” seeks to stir us into the debauchery of that marriage melting pot – wedlock isn’t the priority of our majority.

It isn’t even our dream. Our culture is just more valuable, valiant, imaginative, romantic and hopeful than that.

I’d tell Harvey we dream of the day when gay men, who have the highest rate of disposable income in America, stop wasting their resources on purchasing the promise of eternal youth and utilize it to create safe havens in the heartland instead.

We imagine gay doctors, nurses, therapists and health care officials joining forces to build medical centers. Gay lawyers combining talents to establish legal firms. Gay singers and comedians backing gay-owned-and-operated restaurants and nightclubs. Gay athletes creating gay health complexes. Gay financiers building banks. Gay actors starting theaters. Gay educators forming charter schools. Gay religious leaders developing denominations that embrace gay people by interpreting ancient text in the spirit of divine law.

Our desire is to cultivate our culture, not to abolish it.

To elevate, not to assimilate.

To create, not to copy.

To lead, not to follow.

To record our history, not to erase it.

I’d question Harvey as to the purpose of new laws, when the constitutional law of equality has not yet been upheld for all Americans – guaranteeing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as inalienable.

I’d wonder aloud why we continue to chase after a society that doesn’t rise to the talent and tenderness of our own.

…and more

Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019

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This freshly edited, updated essay by Marguerite Quantaine first appeared in the St. Petersburg Times nine years ago. (Copyright by Quantaine © 2004 • 2013)

Please select REPLY to share your thoughts on love, marriage, and equality here.

I’m all eyes and heart.



Eighty days after Bobby Kennedy kissed me he was killed. I don’t know why it happened — either the kiss, or the killing. Each time, he was caught up in the joy of the moment. Both times, he got whisked away.

As happenstance had it, Kennedy was frolicking with friends in the back seat of an inconspicuous car crawling down Fifth Avenue when he spotted me — a young, vibrant, redheaded Breck-replica in a Kelly green, worsted wool coat, weaving through revelers lining Fifth Avenue for the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

I was pugnacious. The flock in front of the 666 building was so sardined, it turned my two-minute sprint to the Primeburger into a twenty-minute tussle.

Hearing the crowds crescendo as a car of paraders slowed to a stop behind me, I poised myself to push through an advancing pocket of people.

Suddenly, someone grabbed my elbow and pivoted me into his arms, gently tilting my chin upwards before planting a quick kiss. His thicket of hair reflected like flax in the midday sun veiling two hazel, sleep stripped eyes conferring a dilatory blink – not unlike that of a tomcat purring thanks.

Then, just as instantaneously, he was hustled back to his locus in that long procession trekking towards his untoward future.

“You’re never going to guess what happened to me,” I nudged my friend, Marion, during the elevator ride up to our offices at Fuller & Smith & Ross the next morning. “Bobby Kennedy kissed me.”

“Ohmigod, you gotta be kidding!” Marion gasped. “What’d’ya do?”

“Do? What could I do? I was stunned. That’s all.”

“Did anyone see?”

“Well, yes. I guess. How could they not?”

“I mean, anyone here. Because it might not set well. Him being in the running now and all.”

That hadn’t occurred to me. “It was just a kiss,” I dismissed.

“Yeah,” Marion nodded. “But Bobby Kennedy for cripes sake. Who gets kissed by a Kennedy?”

“Who doesn’t?” I scoffed.

Fuller & Smith & Ross is an advertising agency footnoted in history. As Manager of Purchasing & In-House Printing I’d been privy to a confidential meeting detailing departmental procedures for handling the 21 million dollar account we’d secured two months earlier. My first assignment was to have business cards engraved for our new client. The inscription: Richard Nixon, 577 Chestnut Ridge Road, Wood Cliff Lake, New Jersey 07675.

Upon completion and delivery to his Park Avenue address, Nixon graciously sent me an autographed card. Seeing his inked signature on that ivory colored Bristol board proved pretty heady stuff to me — a small town transplant and political novitiate.

I was young, eager, and altruistic back then; a cookie cutter copy of that last generation of Americans who hadn’t a true clue as to what went on inside our nation’s governing bodies or outside our autonomous lives.

So, while I excelled at my job of vetting vendors, overseeing offset runs, getting offices decorated, equipment updated, carpets cleaned, prototypes printed, supplies stocked, and locks on doors changed whenever a colleague left — it wasn’t until I was entrusted with the billing of telephone lines linked to a network of chameleon operatives that I started to sink with the sinking-in.

“Cause and effect, people,” was the daily drill. “Never has so much money been amassed to elect a candidate. Our targeted buyouts of principal advertising airtime will efficaciously shut the Democrats out. Cause and effect.”

Try to remember, or imagine: In 1968, PBS was still in the proposal stage, there were just three major networks, prime time was essentially over by 10 p.m., a 30 second spot in the top rated markets cost about ten grand, and a million dollars was an unimaginable sum to most. But 21 million? That was whew!

By day, Nixon commandeered Town Hall meetings answering random questions in primary states while being filmed at three angles — front, back, and side. By night, our media technicians removed audio from side and back-shot tapes, replacing it with Nixon voiceovers of perfected responses. These were the videos offered to the media for viewing and airing. This was the foundation for creating many of the 15, 30, 45 and 60-second spots and news feeds.

Apparently, audience participants were so elated at seeing themselves on television that they failed to notice Nixon’s edited answers. At least, I heard no rumors of suspicion outside the office. I saw no evidence of complaint.

But within our ranks, long hours involving similar scenarios (and the disillusionment such capers caused) was taking its toll.

Perhaps that’s why Kennedy’s assassination registered as an amplified aghast to us. Because, by the time he announced his candidacy, we’d already been entrenched in a predetermined campaign victory for 10 weeks, believing everyone working on the inside of both political parties concurred from the get-go. Our jobs seemed only a matter of proper execution.

Sure, Bobby Kennedy added glamour and excitement to the illusion being painted for an impressionable public. Sensational headlines and endless editorials promised he could change things. And would.

But factuality was, by the time Kennedy won the California primary, every projection we’d been made privy to in January had confirmed itself by June. Ad copy, speeches, rebuttals, and press releases were written and delivered verbatim, leading a nation of primary voters to the polls and persuading them to push the Republican button. We knew if the Democrats had been wealthier in ’68, only the names would have changed to protect the process.


…and more
Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019

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Did you have a brush with history that remains vivid in your memory? What are your feelings about the assassination of Robert Kennedy?

Please share your thoughts, here, by selecting REPLY. I’m all eyes and heart.

(This freshly edited, updated essay was first published in The Antiquarian Magazine © 1985, More © 1995, and in Venus Magazine © 2011 by Marguerite Quantaine © 1985, 1995, 2011 & 2013.)
Marguerite Quantaine is an essayist and author.
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