TRUE STORY TUESDAY: THE TIME PAUL NEWMAN ALMOST BROKE UP MY PARENTS' LOVE AFFAIR

  1. It was 1968, and my parents were both full-time Paul Newman fans and full-time students at Ohio University.
  2. This was before "Butch Cassidy," but after "Cool Hand Luke," and Paul Leonard Newman was not ONLY a bona fide movie star, but also a father of six and a political activist stumping for Senator Eugene McCarthy.
  3. McCarthy (D-Minn.) was vying for the 1968 Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States and had entered the race intent on unseating incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson. The focus of his campaign was on bringing a swift end to the Vietnam War.
  4. This was definitely my parents' jam. My mom was sort of an overly-earnest librarian hippie and my dad has not yet been drafted into the service. They were both very smart, very against the war, and very much in love.
  5. According to my mother, they'd heard that Paul Newman was going to be arriving on campus and they had discussed trying to see, or even meet him.
  6. Ultimately, though, they knew it would be a mob scene and decided against it.
    Actual photo of actual mob of students waiting to see PN
  7. "We both agreed it was a bad idea," she tells me. "I went back to my apartment, he went back to his, and we didn't talk for the rest of the day."
  8. The next morning, as per usual, my mom went to the Student Union to get a coffee. As she waited in line, the university paper, The Post, was delivered, a large stack of them, tied together, and dropped at her feet.
  9. There he was, on the cover. Paul Newman.
  10. AND MY DAD.
    All the way to the left.
  11. He had gone without her!
  12. Braved the crowds.
  13. And worked his way to the front.
  14. My mom could not believe it.
  15. Was she OUTRAGED? A little.
  16. But *only* a little... this was before the age of constant communication. People could change their minds and their plans and have no way of letting you know. The expectation of being privy to another person's every decision just wasn't there.
    Doesn't that sound lovely?
  17. Still, she was disappointed-but mostly because she'd wanted to see for herself if Paul Newman's eyes really were that blue.
  18. My dad assured her that they were.
  19. And she forgave him, and they got married.
  20. And almost fifty years later, she still has the front page of that paper.
  21. And while neither of them ever again got that close to Paul Newman,
  22. Their grandchildren—my two rascals—attend summer camp completely free of charge due to a foundation he set up.
  23. And if my dad changes plans on her now? Let's just say she is not quite as understanding.
  24. Because "Why the H do you have a phone," she says, "if you're not going to answer it?"