Thursday, July 26, 2012

"13A:The Story of an Apartment, a Community and an Idea"

One of the gifts our friend Karin left me with was a push to redress a regret. One night over dinner, I said, one of the things I am most sorry about is that I did not keep a journal about the life of LHA in my apartment, 13A before it moved to its now permanent home in Brooklyn. So Joan, she said, in that forthright way, why don't you do a book and call it 13A. Karin is a social historian and always finds the most wonderful books about daily life in whatever country she is visiting us in--like the history of the flush toilet in Great Britain or the role of bars in the Soviet Union. I thought and thought and now, dear friends, old and new, I announce to you my perhaps final book project--"13A: The Story of an Apartment, a Community and an Idea." Karin exemplified her point to me by telling us stories she remembered from her years visiting and working at the archvies in the old apartment-- from the time Squinch the cat fell behind one of the filing cabinets--saved by Karin with a lowered basket and a bit of tuna--to how she witnessed women coming to visit the archives for a work or at home night, they came dressed in their work clothes, blouses and skirts, and how I would greet them and say, if you would like to change--and lead them to my bedroom. Karin acted out how transformed the women were as they changed from their proper work drag into their butch clothes. These were moments I had forgotten. And so I now turn to you; this will not be a book about me but about all that happened in that apartment as you remember it, all of you who ever worked there, visited, the stories of why you came, what kind of searches were you on, who you met there, did you come form Womanbooks on the corner to that stange apartment on the other corner? Were you a volunteer, a coordinator, Judith, I am thinking of you and Beth and so many more, Sabrina, Morgan--hundreds of you--this will be your story. And it will be the story of the apartment itself, its material reality, what was happening in New York housing culture that such a site became part of our communal life. If you have a story to tell of any sort, they don't have to be glowing, if you remember any details of your visit--please write to me, I have a facebook page as well--don't worry about the style of writing, scraps of thoughts, of details will be wonderful, taped memories will be wonderful--and tell friends--contributions in all language will be wonderful for so many of you visited from around the world--and all will be recogonized in the book--the years covered will be 1974 to 1992--and I can see in my mind's eye, the afternoon, the lesbian playwright, Jane Chambers came to visit, the archives just beginning in that back little room, all coffee cans and wooden planks, Jane's valient struggle to live marking her body as she gave us a copy of her play, Blue Fish Cove. All will be honored. Thank you, Joan

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