Little Red Book

Article excerpt

THE PRESS has been making much of 29 binders and 2,400 pages of jottings found among the relics of baseball great Joe DiMaggio. According to Clyde Haberman in the New York Times (July 17), no one who reads those jottings will be "stumbling upon Proustian insights." For one thing, DiMaggio was "notoriously--how to put it kindly?--frugal," and recorded every taxi fare and tip.

DiMaggio's teammate Whitey Ford stared at the pile of binders when he saw them. "I didn't know this stuff existed.... He was a very, very private man. I don't know if Joe would be too tickled about this."

A typical day: "Monday, December 12, 1983. Up at 7 a.m. Had breakfast in coffee shop at 8 a.m." He wrote these entries on hotel stationery, bread wrappers or whatever was at hand.

Reading about DiMaggio's musings sent me back to some little red diary-appointment books that were badges of Lutheran clerical office a half-century ago. They were unearthed not for purposes of auction, but because I packed and unpacked them during a recent move.

My financial notations were as numerous as DiMaggio's. I also wrote down quotations that I found important enough to use throughout the year. There were some practical items, such as:

1956, April 6: "Evening with Harold Fey." Fey (pronounced "Fie") signed me on to a half-century of life with the CENTURY.

1956: "Accept me Lord into Thy School / And graduate me as Thy fool." I don't know who wrote that, but I am doing postdoc work now on that project.

While I was writing a dissertation on "infidelity"--free thought in American religion--I entered this from (presumably Edmund) Burke: "Nothing is so fatal to religion as indifference, which is, at least, half infidelity. …