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Tim Hamilton

What really happened? Indeed, reading history is one of my favorite past times and David Lehman gives us one good go at it here in the form of these three books. I say “one go” because Yalta was the only book in the series I was able to peruse; “What Really Happened in Dallas” was not included in the packet of review copies I received from the publisher. After making many calls and inquiring as to when I was to receive this volume, I was told in no uncertain terms to drop the subject. The lady on the other end of the telephone, while her mouth was full of crackers and horrendous grammar I might add, told me that the book had been packed and, “shuffled outa ear with Hank, the most dreamy stamp licker I ever did know!”

Thus, by the time I read Yalta, I was so aggravated that I only recall the delightful story of Churchill giving Stalin a detailed summery of his favorite Marx Brothers movies over a game of checkers. It appears they played this game on one of the windy back verandas of Livadia Palace, and just as Stalin became visibly excited about the photographs of Margaret Dumont that Churchill reportedly carried on his person at all times, a gust of wind blew their checker game into the rose bushes. At the sight of this Churchill was heard to exclaim, “The great defense against the air menace is to attack the inherent virtue of socialism, leading the writer to strip himself of almost all sense and meaning.” Everyone including Stalin, who certainly could not grasp the subtle sharp wit of this little barb, broke down in uncontrollable laughter. One of Churchill’s young staffers even laughed so hard as to coughed up coffee on him self, and ended up sacked the next day because of it.

Waterloo? Funny that. During my weekly literary salon held every Friday at my apartment, a young girl, one of five I might add, was looking through the Waterloo book as I recounted the Yalta checker story for her. As I recounted Churchill’s witty gem, she laughed so hard she too coughed up her Latté all herself and on my only copy of the Waterloo book. Poor girl felt so bad she cried until the tape holding her thick black glasses together became unstuck. Such a fragile little thing. I told she could rejoin the group in a year or so when she learns to control her emotions better. Much like Churchill, there is no place in my book club for young ladies who cough up their food. Waterloo sits stained and unread in my closet.

Yalta! Give it a go I say!

NFL shop

The summer of 1976 saw the ABA-NBA merger finally take place. As part of the merger agreement, four teams from the ABA—the Nets, Nuggets, Pacers and San Antonio Spurs—joined the NBA. The Nets and Nuggets had actually applied to join the NBA in 1975, but were forced to play a lame-duck season in the ABA by court order.

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