The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 6, 1976 · Page 13
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 13

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Monday, December 6, 1976
Page 13
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Pigeons: My Friend Qualifies A flash for the students in Dorm 21 at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in Boca Raton: Hold off on Steve Mitchell Ron Wiggins i i Advising Colleague Rewarding that part out. You were wrong." I came out of my slouch long enough to point out that there is a world of difference between the fact that people eat squab and my being wrong. "But squabs are young pigeons," Mitchell protested. "You told me that business about the winter when the water froze on the hearths in Paris and starving people wouldn't eat pigeons. Where 'd you get that, anyway?" "I read it somewhere," I said, knocking all of his arguments into a cocked hat. And with that I went back to my work while a petulant Mitchell excised the challenged portion of his column, all for fear of appearing the fool. A few days later the pigeon matter came up again, Mitchell's doing. "You say pigeons are inedible?" he Turn to WIGGINS, B2 4 Mitchell is writing of pigeons again, a subject of which he is steeped in ignorance. I tried to help him on his last pigeon column but he wasn't having any. Pigeons, I told him, are inedible. So inedible that starving Parisians refused to eat the creatures during that terrible winter that water froze on the hearths. "Much obliged," Mitchell nodded, weaving that thread of historical insight into his column about how rubber snakes will not frighten pigeons. Moments later he stalked back into our cubicle almost as if to beard me in my den, chagrin and umbrage writ large on his face. "Pigeons are squabs," he said. "So what if they are?" I replied. "People eat squabs. They just told me on the desk. Now I have to take the rubber snakes. Help is on the way. For those who missed the first episode, some of the FAU students are being plagued by a plethora of pigeons roosting on, and befouling, dormitory ledges. The students hope to frighten the birds away by placing rubber snakes on the ledges, reasoning that pigeons are afraid of snakes. My own opinion is that pigeons are afraid of large snakes, but not small snakes. I am inclined to think they might mistake small snakes for large earthworms and eat them. But never mind that. Several readers have called me with what they describe as surefire ways of getting rid of unwanted pigeons. A lady whose name I unfortunately have misplaced suggested that the FAU students contact the Audubon Society. She said the Audubon people know of a preparation that retails for about 65 cents per tube that is guaranteed to repel pigeons when smeared on ledges. She said she has tried it and it works. Another man said anything smeared on ledges would do it vaseline, recombined motor oil or whatnot as long as it is slippery and is put on the edges of the ledges where the pigeons put their little feet. He said the pigeons like to grip the edges of the ledges and any kind of slippery substance gives them a feeling of insecurity despite the fact that pigeons could fly if they happened to slip off. "Remember," he Turn to MITCHELL, B2 The Palm Beach Post MONDAY, DECEMBER 6, 1976 B SECTION Kahler: Friends More Important Than Fortunes of the extraordinary life the 81-year-old man has led. His list of friends included such internationally famous persons as Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Prince Rainier, F. Scott Fitzgerald and the dancer Isadora Duncan. He also has friends in Palm Beach, where his father, a Wall Street banker who was part founder of the First National Bank of Palm Beach, had a home built at the corner of Pendleton Avenue and Cocoa-nut Row. "To please him I worked on Wall Street for a while, but I always wanted to write," he remembers. "So I resigned and went to Paris and attended the Sorbonne." In France he met and married Baroness Olga Clewesahl-Steinheil. Later in their lives, they came to know an aunt of Prince Rainier of Monaco who lived with them for a number of years and was the last living member of the St. Innocent family. She legally adopted them and had the title Marquis de St. Innocent legally conferred upon him. That was how he came to know Rainier. But he didn't know Rainier had fallen in love with American movie starlet Grace Kelly when the prince asked his opinion of her, or he wouldn't have replied: "Aw, she's all right, but I prefer Marilyn Monroe. She's not so cold." "I've always regretted that," he says with a far-off look of mixed pain and amusement. "I saw a picture of Grace and Rainier the other day," he adds. "She looks great but Rainier has put on some weight." Kahler was in Palm Beach, visiting his nearly life-long friend, Amy Lorton McKay. Since he returned to the United States about four years ago after spending most of his adult life in France, Spain and India, "I've been re-Americanizing him," she says. They've been traveling to various parts of the United States. Kahler's wife and Mrs. McKay's husband, M. Victor McKay, died only weeks apart about five years ago. McKay is the hero of Kahler's first published piece, a short story called, "The False Front." The title is taken from his father's description of the kind of life he was leading in Paris, consorting with fashionable people and living in a fashionable neighborhood while having to rent out rooms and toil over his writings to make a living. McKay, who later became a New York public relations man, had gone to Paris to escape his fashionable Newport, R.I., background. Kahler's novels, "Early To Bed," "Smart Set-Back," "Giant Dwarf," "Portraits in Laughter" and "Cravings of Desire" usually were light and amusing, but sometimes sensitive love affairs. "Por- By BOB BRINK Poit Staff Writer Woodland (Woody) Kahler, a part-time Palm Beacher, is wealthy and happy, but he doesn't think the two necessarily are related. In fact, he walked away from money as a young man, leaving the wealth of Wall Street for literary pursuits in Paris. But he could not flee fortune, and fame also found him. His fortune came mainly through his wealthy parents. Fame, and with it a part of that fortune, arrived through his writings, which number about 70 essays and 5 novels, two of which were best sellers. Fame can be fleeting, but Kahler thinks he found early in his career the secret of using it to bring happiness. The secret was revealed to him and his wife, a beautiful Russian countess, in New York City by a man who himself had achieved fame the psychiatrist Alfred Adler, founder of individual psychology and prominent associate of Sigmund Freud. When Kahler met Adler, the novelist's marriage was on the rocks. The pioneer psychologist "influenced me tremendously," Kahler says. "I knew him so intimately that I called him Papa Adler. He saved my marriage. "Papa Adler said the greatest motivating force in life Freud said it was sex is the desire to attract attention, being recognized and feeling important," Kahler recalls. "Adler pointed out that if you feel important by being helpful to other people, then you've become a well-adjusted member of society. But on the other hand, if you try to feel important by doing things selfishly that have no meaning to other people, then you become neurotic and unhappy. In other words, you reap what you sow in life. Kindness comes back to you. I've proved that." To Kahler, the most important things in life are "friendship and health to enjoy your friends." He has both. His friends are scattered around the world friendships that were formed when he was president of the Council' for World Government headquartered at The Hague, Holland, and of the International Vegetarian Union, and as an officer or member of numerous other organizations. The world council's chief aim, he says, is promoting peace and friendship around the world. The vegetarian union promotes, of course, vegetarianism, which opposes eating meat for reasons of health and to avoid killing animals. "Once you become a vegetarian, you have instantly friends all over the world," he says, "who invite you into their homes when you travel." A list of the vegetarian, animal protection and other organizations he has been involved with is enough to convey an idea 1 idtll r'f) . if") -C"- ; j.iLiLii l ...... in Staff Photo by Mikt Dltmtr Vegetarian Woodland Kahler, 81, Is Writer and Humanitarian The animals lived peaceably with each other, which shows, he says, "Friendship is possible among all creatures as well as human beings." It was his wife's love for animals that persuaded him 25 years ago to become a vegetarian. "I thought it was a Russian whim that might last a few weeks, but the first thing I was elected president of the International Vegetarian Union, and I had to keep it up," he says dryly. But he's not sorry for his pursuit of the vegetarian, and then the natural hygienist, way of life. "When I was young, I had arthritis, neuritis, spinal meningitis, appendicitis, hay fever. Now I can sleep on a haystack. I'll be 82 in February and I'm in perfect health. Turn to KAHLER, B8 traits in Laughter" made some penetrating observations about Florida. The first four received a lot of attention, with such prestigious book review organs as the New York Times sometimes acclaiming them as works showing a finely honed skill for making good reading out of lackluster material. They were translated into four languages. Kahler's description of them would lead one to believe that despite his renunciation of any food but unprocessed fruits and vegetables, he had a lot of fun. "They're all autobiographical," he says. "I just wrote about what happened to me and my friends." After coming back to the United States, he found 1,500 copies of "Cravings of Desire" in a barn at his country home, formerly his father's, in New Hampshire, and sent them to libraries in Palm Beach County as well as other parts of the nation. The book is not an erotic tale, as the title would suggest, but a funny yet philosophical satire on a woman's desperate quest for youth. Besides the home in New Hampshire, the peripatetic Kahlers owned and lived in a castle in a mountain outside Barcelona, Spain, and a mountaintop house in India, where they had a tea plantation. He shows pictures in a Spanish magazine of the castle, a magnificent affair that competes well with Palm Beach's Mar-A-Lago for lavishness. His wife had a great love for animals and a variety of them lived with them in the castle, including leopards and a boa constrictor that slept with them. In India, they also kept an elephant. "That elephant would go for a walk with us every day, just like a dog," Kahler says casually. Percentages Offer Little Comfort if It's Your Body Second in a Series Later, months later, I wondered how I could have been quite so pigheadedly unafraid. It was as if there res re a piece of embroidery in my head, reading: Baa s Don t Happen to Me. Implanted at Dirtn as tne ; I Iff TVTM child of grateful, adoring parents, 1 always lelt 'ial and intrinsirallv nrntected from harm the em- I . f '. . . definitely something there ... a mass . . . good chance of malignancy . . . different kinds of mastectomy, as you probably know . . . some women say they want a separate procedure . . . studies show ... in my own experience . . . but, of course, it's up to you.' Attending Physician Breaking the News t i a un I . . . dery had more or less held up. I slid into writing first by selling a book idea to m I . BETTY ROUIN published by J.B. lippincotl spoke and asked me some medical-record kinds of questions: How old are you? Have you ever been pregnant? Is there any cancer in the family? "Absolutely not," was my loud, clear answer to that one. When the questioning was over, I felt that I had done rather well. I gave myself an "A." Then, almost lazily, the doctor pulled some X-rays out of a manila envelope my mammograms, obviously. He swiveled around in his chair toward the wall, put the shiny black sheets in a viewer, and flicked on a light switch. "Hmmph," he said. "Can't see much on these." He flicked off the switch and swiveled back to face me. "Well, let's have a look," he said, getting up. I followed him into an adjoining examination room. My head buzzed. I felt high. This, I thought, climbing up on the table, is one big charade. I had felt the same silly quea-siness so many other times before a plane landed, or alone in the apartment when something creaked and always it turned out to be nothing. Nothing at all. And afterward I would always feel like a dumb, jumpy female. I was on my back and Singermann was palpating my left breast. "Put your arm back." More palpation. Then the other breast. The examination was more thorough than any I had had before, either by Smith or Ellby. "Sit up, please." More of the same. He moved my arm this way and that, then pushed his fingers into my armpit, as if he were going to pick me up. Then "I'm going to squeeze your nipple now," he said, and did. I knew that it you have breast cancer, the nipple sometimes ejects a fluid. Mine didn't. It didn't even hurt. "You can get dressed now," said Singermann, without a trace of anything dour in his voice. Clearly, I had done as well on the physical as I had on the oral exam. , Turn to BREAST, B8 ;ubleday, then by going on to other small books and iugazine articles, bluffing my way into a job as a fea-ires editor at Vogue, and winding up, finally, at Look as a senior editor, with a column of my own. I cared about my work, and when you care about something you are bound to get hurt some. But what small hurts they were. For the most part, I had a golden life, and like most people with golden lives, I took mine for granted. I was happy and smug. I had fulfilled society's expectations, my mother's, and, as I got analyzed and older, my own as well. I married late, but I married. I didn't have children, but I didn't want children. I cried when Look died, where I had been almost continuously euphoric, but then having had the good sense not to run to Life (which died a year later) I engineered myself into a fine job at NBC News. It was hard there at first, because I was hired to be something I didn't know how to be: a news correspondent. Before NBC, I had had no experience either in hard news or in film producing (which is how news stories are covered). But I learned. I even get good at it. Everything always worked out. I expected it to. Perhaps that's why it did. My talents were no greater than those of other people for whom things don't work up. It was an old perversion. It's a matter of emotional role-playing, I suppose, of choosing up sides. If you're easy, I'll take the other part; I'll fidget. If you've got the willies, I'll relax; I'll be gay. So as I led my shaky husband into Dr. Singermann's dark lobby, I clearly had to be the cheery, tough one. Method actor that I was, I got right into the part. "What an attractive color," I chirped, taking in the deep, not quite forest green of the lobby. "That's the color I wish our draperies were, instead of that awful apple." No response from husband. Dr. Singermann had white hair, glasses, a good jaw, a silk tie, and one oddity: a walleye. His office was small and dark and leathery. He sat behind a desk and I sat in an armchair on one side of the desk, facing him. That left a small chair behind me for Arthur. Without waiting to be asked, I recited the story of my lump when it was first discovered, what the doctors had jaid, everything 1 could think of. Singermann made notes as I and worse; I had read about the Nazi holocaust, I had sense of what was going on in remote places like Vietnam and around the corner in Harlem. But I couldn't help it none of the bad stuff had ever touched me directly. In my life, deprivation, injustice, disease were as remote as Bangladesh ... as unlikely as cancer. . What was the point of worrying about something that probably wouldn't happen? Worry took time and energy. I valued my time and energy. I didn't want to waste it on the fear of something as unlikely as breast cancer. Nine out of 10 benign, I reminded myself daily. And there's no cancer in the family. And I'm young. And I'm me. Dr. Singermann's office turned out to be in one of those grand old Fifth Avenue buildings, full of nannies and psychoanalysts. When I got there, Arthur was waiting out in front, under the canopy, smoking. He looked awful. "Don't look so grim," I said, giving him a short squeeze. "It's only a doctor appointment." Arthur's distress had the odd effect of cheering me out. But I was confident and lucky. My confidence, moreover, was not limited to myself but encompassed vny world. I knew in my head that life was capricious

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