Saturday, December 25, 2004 +

02004 12 25 +

Olivia came down with a sudden fever during the Provinical House Mass yesterday afternoon, so in the evening Mary and I went one after the other to Jake and Irina’s, and our two families exchanged gifts this morning. Olivia’s morning temp was just under 100. Mary read at the Cathedral and then picked up Dot. I made a stew. In the afternoon Ted and Rezsin Adams visited us, and also Sandy and Ariella. We all had some of Mom and Dad’s fruitcake and other treats. Jude also arrived. After Ted and Rezsin and Sandy and Ariella left we had dinner, then exchanged presents. As we were about to have dessert, Ted and Rezsin came by again, bringing Chinese cookies. We brought out our own (bought) apple caramel nut and pumpkin pies, there were petit fours and Belgian chocolate cookies and other sweets about, as well as some good talk. Ted’s stories from his teaching days are always fun to listen to. He mentioned several incidents of student plagiarism. One time a student plagiarized a paper on Willa Cather. Ted, who had written his dissertation on Cather, recognized the source immediately. The student had nothing to say at their first meeting, but asked for a second meeting at 9 o'clock at night—definitely “after hours” in the building. Fearing or perhaps fantasizing what his student might be intending, Ted asked several friends to come in that night and make themselves conspicuous in the hallway, while he kept his door open during the meeting, which proved uneventful. Another time, Ted received identical papers from two students. In another class, a student told Ted that she had to receive at least a B in the course or her parents in Romania would be executed. Ted guaranteed that he would see to it that she would get at least a B. The student handed in a plagiarized paper. Ted called her in for a meeting. The student said she was shocked, since a nun had written the paper. In the end, Ted went to the dean and explained to him why we had to raise the grades of the students who did as well or better in the class than his Romanian student. The dean granted the point.

Ted says he has not much time these days. “I write three letters, and it's evening.” He says he has been doing crossword puzzles to exercise his brain. I asked if he has been having trouble remembering. He said, “Ask me what happened yesterday, and I might not remember, but this morning I sat down at the piano and played a piece I had not played since 1947. I played it perfectly—it can't be a good sign.” Ted’s memory is more living than most people’s lives—at least more entertaining.

On a different topic, Ted said he thought Audrey Hepburn was miscast as Holly Golightly in the movie version of Breakfast of Tiffany’s. He, Jude, and Mary expressed admiration for Capote’s short stories.

We talked with Honolulu, Westport, Syracuse, and Willow Grove.