Meet Megan Marshack. She's the force behind this week's trivia question which I discovered in the course of wading through a new 850 page biography. If I were to name the bio, the answer would be all too obvious.
The question is--With the death of which famous American will Ms. Marshack be forever linked?
Hint--The first four words of the biography, by Richard Norton Smith (I saw him on CSpan), are "On His Own Terms".
Was the famous American?
President Abraham Lincoln
President John F. Kennedy
President Warren G. Harding
Vice President Nelson Rockefeller
General George C. Patton
Don't be confused by the reference to Patton (with Bill O'Reilly's bestselling pop culture book). After all, take all of O'Reilly's books together and you don't get all that many words.
In fact, author Smith worked 14 years on the book "On His Own Terms, A Life of Nelson Rockefeller".
Of course, I'm probably not the only one who began with the last chapter, death of Nelson Rockefeller. That's where we meet the 26 year old media wannabe Marshack whom the former New York Governor and Vice President was most assuredly screwing (is bopping a more refined word?) at the time of his death by a massive heart attack.
I thought everyone knew that, but apparently I was wrong. When I told someone the story, the response was, "So he died happy."
"No, no," I said without missing a beat. "Happy was his wife, the woman he was cheating on."
But that would require many more words of explanation.
The book is sensational, and by that I most assuredly do not mean that Nelson Rockefeller is sensational. As a 12 year old seventh grader in 1964, I recall going through the halls of Vergennes (Vermont) elementary school saying, "In your heart, you know he's right," Barry Goldwater's slogan. Then before he became a crook and a big government enabler, I was a fan of Richard Nixon.
Rockefeller was never my cup of tea, and after reading (parts of) this book, I'm even less fond of him. He was a typical tax and spend Republican who never met a bloated program he didn't like. He was among the first in the country to fund something government should not be involved in at all, cultural affairs.
As a human being, Rocky was the worst sort of womanizer (he would put JFK and Clinton to shame) who had no respect for women, either those he married or those he screwed. He was also a bully and a wheeler dealer.
Yes, the book is great, but Rocky was a despicable human being and leader; it's kind of like the Woodrow Wilson bio I read earlier this year, a great book about the racist who was our worst President ever.
But I come here to bury Rocky not to demean him. Let Smith's words do that.
Here's a brief passage from page 710 of the book. (Paturas was a medic called to the death scene). Be forewarned--you may learn more than you care to know...and I don't mean about Dom Perignon.
"Paturas's eyes were drawn to the profusion of paintings and sculptures throughout the room. He glimpsed unfinished boxes of Chinese food and a bottle of Dom Perignon. And sprawled on the floor next to the coffee table he saw an apparently lifeless man, nude, bluish in color, without pulse or respiration. The man exhibited all the signs of full cardiac arrest. He had thrown up his last meal, complicating efforts to insert a plastic oxygen tube into his lung. Traces of his vomit clung to Megan's outfit, variously described as a black evening gown and a caftan, fully zipped."
Great book, horrible man...and let's not even get into the deaths he caused by inept handling of the Attica uprising.
Here's one more story, one regarding the 1964 New Hampshire primary which Rockefeller and Goldwater both lost to write-in Henry Cabot Lodge. Later in the year, Rocky met Paul Grindle, the man who had organized the Lodge write in. Let's go to page 443 of the book (not interested in a history of the Rockefeller family, I admit to having skipped to the political stuff).
"They (Rockefeller and Grindle) met at Margate, the Scranton estate outside the Pennsylvania mill town of which the family had given its name. Amid these baronial surroundings, reminiscent of Pocantico (one of Rockefeller's estates), Rockefeller relaxed sufficiently to ask Grindle what it would have taken to bring about a withdrawal from New Hampshire.
"A bribe," Grindle said deadpan.
"How much?" asked Rockefeller.
"For ten thousand dollars, you would have seen the back of me."
"Oh, my Christ," sputtered Rockefeller. "And I spent three million."
I repeat—this is a great book…about a very bad man. He may not have bedded as many women as Wilt Chamberlain, but then the Big Dipper never died, ever so famously as minions tried to cover it up, while bopping a woman named Megan Marshack.
As for the reference to Harding, that's due to an even better book I'm reading, "One Summer--America 1927" by Bill Bryson. Along with Lindbergh, Dempsey-Tunney, The Babe, Sacco and Venzetti, and an inside story on the evils of Prohibition (not unlike Reefer Madness), we're treated to the story of Harding, yet another President who couldn't keep it in his pants, and Nan Britton...and what she did after Harding died mysterioulsy...another time perhaps.
If you read nothing else this holiday season, check out Chapter 12 of the Brisson book and Chapter 26 of the Rocky book.