Salinger's high country


Statues at the  wonderful Saint Gaudens National Historic Site, in Cornish, N.H., where J.D. Salinger lived for decades, though he remained in many ways a Manhattanite.

Herewith a charming look in The Boston Globe at J.D Salinger's Connecticut River Valley section of Vermont and New Hampshire. I have always found it one of the loveliest and most interesting parts of America.

He was a strong presence, albeit usually unseen, in the region. I think I saw him go into the stacks of Dartmouth's Baker Library once; he was wearing a raincoat. He was the male Greta Garbo of his time -- the more reclusive he got, the more famous. Intentional, in some way?  And yet he was a civic-minded resident when it came to local matters.

I took a class in Chinese history with his wife of the time -- the '60s --- Claire Douglas, at Dartmouth.  The young assistant professor seemed very smitten with this beautiful lady. Toward the end of the trimester, I was surprised that at a social gathering (at the professor's apartment) for the class, which only had about a dozen people, that the majority of the attendees (including the professor) supplemented their wine and beer with marijuana cigarettes. This was the high '60's indeed!

-- Robert Whitcomb