Like many grandmothers of today, I raised my three daughters with the assistance of my dog-eared copy of “Baby and Child Care.” And then my children raised their children with revised editions of this enormously helpful work, which in its newest incarnation still starts out with those comforting, confidence-building words, “You know more than you think you do.”
Yesterday I was thrilled to be part of the book launch for this new edition of "Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care." The book party was hosted by Mary Morgan, Dr. Spock’s wife for 25 years until his death in 1998 at the age of 94, and was attended by Robert Needlman, M.D., the pediatrician who has carried on Dr. Spock’s legacy by writing the 8th and the 9th editions, and other celebrants who either knew Ben Spock or honored his memory. The event at the venerable Greenwich Village Caffé Vivaldi was an exciting mix of tributes to this outstanding man, songs and music from the beautiful Iranian singer Rana Farhan and her band featuring the poetry of the Persian poet Rumi, good food, and good feelings. I felt honored to be there.
One of the most exciting days of my life was the one back in 1973 when both Dr. Spock and I were interviewed on the TV show Midday New York. After the show, I wrote this great man the following letter:
“Dear Dr. Spock:
“I’m sure that you must be used to reactions such as you got from me last week when I met you at “Midday” – heartfelt gratitude from a mother whose hand you held and whose confidence you raised as I brought up my children. And I’m sure you know how many people admire, respect, and support you for your outspoken and deep involvement in the peace movement. (We didn’t talk about this at all, but I am one of those people.) But I don’t know how often you think of yourself as a sex symbol, so I thought you might enjoy hearing what 16-year-old Nancy said about you.
“As we were sitting at lunch, my friend Sue and I were talking about how excited we were about having actually met you in person after having relied on you in print for so many years, and how wonderful it was to have someone in our lives whom we continued to respect over the years and in such different contexts. Then we talked about your extreme youthfulness at 70 – and here’s where my nubile daughter piped up with: ‘If I were 18, I’d really want to go after him, but since I’m under-age now, I wouldn’t want to get him in trouble.’ All I can say is that I hope she continues to have such good taste!
“All best wishes, Sally”
Then a few weeks later I got another thrill when I received the following letter:
“I rarely get such an appreciative, flattering letter as yours. I’d be a spoiled second childhood child if I did. Your daughter’s remark was particularly exciting.
I went on to interview Ben Spock a couple of times for different writing projects and found him warm and wise and generous with his time. I feel blessed to have these memories.