That J.D. Salinger Connection

Bob Hope praised Eppes for convincing reclusive author J.D. Salinger to meet her on a busy corner in Windsor, Vermont.

Bob Hope praised Eppes for convincing reclusive author J.D. Salinger to meet her on a busy corner in Windsor, Vermont, for an interview.

Photo taken at a celebratory dinner in the Oliver Messel Suite at London's famied Dorchester Hotel.

Photo taken at a celebratory dinner in the Oliver Messel Suite at London's famied Dorchester Hotel.

I  continued to write for The Morning Advocate until late in 1990. Neither my editor nor Jim Hughes ever refused to publish any article I wrote from when I began as a tennis columnist in the sports department until I resigned as restaurant critic and travel writer. And I am content with the body of work  I produced from 1976 through October of 1990.

But I am still more than unsettled over George Plimpton’s actions. He not only wrote a story and published it under my byline, he wrote a specious letter to J.D. Salinger afterward in which he lied, perhaps in hopes of getting an interview with the author. To my knowledge, Salinger never acknowledged George’s letter.

The full story of  “That J.D. Salinger Connection” cannot be told here. Suffice it to say: the events that transpired between Salinger and me are far different from the fantastical tales reported in a gazillion posts on the WWW.  One day, I will tell all.

But not just yet.

Betty Eppes

At Acropolita in Atenas, Costa Rica, Central America

12 responses

14 04 2009
William E. Schulenberg

Ms. Eppes,
I have known you for thirty years. You are the most honest and good-hearted person I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

I applaud you for setting the Plimpton/Salinger record straight.

I wish you a long and happy life.

WES

14 04 2009
bettytraxlereppes

WES- Thank you for the comment you made on my “That J.D. Salinger Connection” page.. The reason I decided to speak out about this now has everything to do with my family. A 20-year-old relative pestered me until I related the story of that Salinger connection I made in 1980. Instead of stopping then, the young upstart began insisting that I write it all down and post my version of events on the WWW. That would take a book, but I think the post I published earlier today is good enough to gain some measure of relief from the relentless prodding I have endured from my young relative for too long. Thank you again for your comment.
Betty

14 04 2009
William E. Schulenberg

Betty-
You are welcome. I look forward to exploring a relationship with you in the very near future. I am single, you are single, and I like you a lot.
WES

14 04 2009
Betty Eppes

WES– Well, your comment is very straightforward and most interesting! We will discuss this over dinner Thursday evening. –Betty

9 05 2009
Kenneth

Hello Betty. Thank you so much for this. Why is it that so many Salinger-related stories have been so grossly embellished? Isn’t the truth interesting enough? And what about people like you whose reputations have suffered from such rumors? It’s ashame.
I have an upcoming publication that mentions the Paris Review article. When researching it, it became apparent that something was wrong with the account. It was too onesided, too damning not to have been contrived. Your post here affirms my suspicions.
Please email me, Betty with some comment. I’m not asking for the whole story if you’re not ready to give it, but I would feel awful repeating an untrue (and unfair) rendition of events.
Thanks Again.

Kenneth

28 01 2010
Tori Allen

Hello Betty,

I’m a producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC, like NPR). As I’m sure you’ve heard, J.D. Salinger has died.

If you’re interested, we’d like to interview you on Q, CBC’s national arts and culture program.

Please get in touch if you’re available.

Thanks,
Tori
416.205.2413

29 09 2010
Anderson "Sulli" Sullivan

Betty-

After I found this post, I googled you and was astonished by the number of hits I got. It seems your name has been tied to that of J.D. Salinger since 1980. So, here’s my next two questions? What led you to seek an interview with him and where can I read the specious letter Plimpton wrote to Salinger? I’ve done many, many searches online and failed to find the letter though I did find the article that Plimpton published in “The Paris Review.”

Sulli

29 09 2010
bettytraxlereppes

Sulli-

I’d lost my enthusiasm for my job as a newspaper journalist and wanted to accomplish something I’d judge as significant. If I didn’t do that, I new, then I’d quit that job, which offered too many advantages for that to be a wise action. I chose convincing Salinger to meet with and talk to me in public as my goal.

George Plimpton’s letter to J.D. Salinger is included in a book titled “If You Really Want To Hear About It” (Crawford). It was published after 2005. -Betty

30 09 2010
Anderson Sullivan

Betty-

I found the book with the letter George Plimpton wrote to J.D. Salinger. Also, I read a sampling of Internet postings re your Salinger interview. It’s obvious that the stuff existed somewhere in print or in archives and was uploaded after Internet usage became commonplace. Is the phenomenon of so many people uploading old stuff onto the Internet and adding comments and accusations without documentation the characteristic/s of Salinger admirers?

Sulli

30 09 2010
bettytraxlereppes

Sulli-
I’m not an expert on anything Salinger. I wrote to him, asked for an interview, he came, and I taped the conversation. I wrote a very short article because of a very serous conflict my editor at that time. After my article was published, Salinger called me, as he frequently did. He also called me after receiving Plimpton’s letter. Salinger proved each time we met that he was a complex, difficult man. But he had a wry sense of the ridiculous. Some members of my family fret over the stuff on the Internet re my connection to J.D, Salinger. I tell them that once a thing gets onto the Internet, there is no getting it off.
Betty

1 10 2010
Anderson Sullivan

Betty-

Taped the conversation? I’ve been using the Internet to learn a bit more about old J.D. Salinger- Or Jerry Salinger, as he seemed to prefer. I agree with George Plimpton. Spending an afternoon with you sounds more appealing that one with the reclusive author.

What happened to the tape you made of your conversation with Salinger? That, I’m betting, would be interesting listening. Did you publish a transcript?

When I went to check out Crawford’s book with the letter Plimpton wrote to Salinger in it, I looked around and was surprised by the volume of material relating to Salinger. I was taken by the comments Alexander wrote in his “Salinger” about you and the public reaction to Salinger coming into Windsor and talking to you in public. I laughed out loud at your reaction to Salinger’s outburst after the shopkeeper walked up to him and touched his arm. Raising your camera and asking his permission to take a close up of him was brilliant.

I know Salinger died early this year and I’m curious. Did his death bring phone calls or other attention? I read “Catche In The Ryer” but was never a fan of the book. Of course, by the time I reached my late teens and read it, it struck me as much ado about a kid who was living a pretty good life. I thought at the time Holden would benefit from wider experience. Background again, do you think?

‘m delighted we’ve reconnected.

Sulli

owas perfect.

1 10 2010
bettytraxlereppes

Sulli-

Salinger was incredibly aggressive in matters of privacy. Suffice it to say he did not know I had secreted a tape recorder under my clothing for the interview. Despite the descriptions that have been put on Internet site, I was not a novice in 1980. I prepared extensively for my trip to search for J.D. Salinger and I got through the interview, and the tongue lashing Salinger whipped me with over being “touched and spoken to” by a local merchant without disclosing my tape recorder. But Salinger did find out about it before I left town.

Salinger’s tongue lashing was unseemly to my mind but it was nothing compared to the verbal storm he unleashed after discovering I’d taped our conversation. Posturing, and using language he clearly expected to intimidate me, he demanded I hand the tape over to him. Salinger seemed truly shocked when I refused. He recited Vermont law, with which I was well versed and which I had not violated because I was a journalist. Using the tape as anything other than background, even playing it publicly would have violated that law. I had no intention of doing that. I taped the conversation in order to have an unassailable record of the conversation. Subsequently, and over considerable time, Salinger and I had many more conversations. I taped none after I taped the first.

The tape of my interview with Salinger was never out of my control. Salinger was the only person who had a right to even contest my ownership of the tape. He asked me to give control over it to him many times but I refused, which strained our acquaintanceship but did not destroy it.

My family knows all particulars of the tape, and of other items related to my acquaintanceship with J.D. Salinger. Interest in the tape is high. It is held in a place of high security, as are the other related items. And though there was an flare up of interest after Salinger’s death, that has subsided. I am now “in conversation” with someone who has proven himself to have a very serious interest in the tape and other items. Up until recently, I’ve refused to entertain such conversations. Things do change.

I’m familiar with Alexander’s “Salinger: a biography.”

Perhaps your, and my, background are huge factors in our attitude toward “Catcher In The Rye.” Like you, I didn’t like Cather. I was never a fan of J.D. Salinger’s work. He truly was a complex, difficult person.

Betty

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