Click here for audio.
Audio file is in .mp3 format.
Michael Kline: 0:00:02.9 Okay my name is Michael Kline, and I'm here with Carrie Kline at the trustees room of the Concord Free Public Library on a beautiful November 14th day 2013. Would you please introduce yourself, "My name is—"
Janet Vaillant: My name is Janet Green, was my maiden name—just like the color green—Vaillant—that's V, as in Victor, A-I-L-L-A-N-T.
MK: And your date of birth?
JV: October 13, 1937.
MK: Okay, nice to meet you.
JV: Nice to meet you.
MK: Why don't you tell us a little about your people and where you were raised.
JV: I was brought up not far from here in Belmont, Massachusetts, which is a suburb of Boston. My mother was—her name was Gladys Marie Griffith. She was born in Iowa, and she grew up in a family with her grandparents mostly who spoke French. Her mother was born in this country, but her mother's older sister was born in France. They were extremely poor. My mother went to a 1-room schoolhouse, and her family tried to—they bought peaches—I know a lot about this now because I've been writing an imagined memoir of my mother, which is turning into a novel. But they were aspiring to the American dream, and my mother was very fortunate. Her father was a railroad engineer who travelled all over the country but died very young in an accident. He left the impression with—and my mother was an only child—left the impression that education was everything. And fortunately, my mother was very good at education. She went—as I say—to rural schools, and then went to live with a relative in Detroit where she graduated from high school. Through work and a lot of good fortune became the executive secretary—if you like—to the head of the Ford Hospital, and in those days the administration of a hospital was largely the head of the hospital, and his secretary. It was there that she met my father who came from another small town in Indiana called Pekin—P-E-K-I-N—which must have been somebody's idea of Peking in China. I always thought that was kind of amusing. He was an intern and a young doctor at the Ford Hospital. They married and moved to Boston where my father became a professor at Harvard Medical School, and that was how I came to be born near Boston in Belmont, Massachusetts.
MK: 0:03:34.9 And were there siblings in your family?
JV: In that family or in my own?
MK: No, in the family that you grew up in.
JV: Yes, there was a sister—my father's sister, Jean Green, also—they both went to Indiana University, and she was interested in journalism. She moved to Washington DC where she got a job at the Washington Post and became—well, she worked on the women's page. She had her own column, Jean Green. I've never looked up any of those columns, but I don't know quite why, I think it may have been an unfortunate love affair or something, but she threw it all back and went back to Indiana, marrying the boy next door—so to speak—who was a general practitioner in Rushville, Indiana. They lived there—she lived there throughout her life.
MK: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
JV: And my mother was an only child and remained so.
MK: (clearing his throat) Tell me about your childhood in Belmont and then how you eventually found your way to Concord.
JV: Well, my father worked a lot, and my mother never worked outside the house. There were 3 of us. I had an older brother and a younger sister, and I was the middle child. I think my mother's love of education caused her to find wonderful schools for us to go to. I loved the outdoors as a small child, and I was a total tomboy and very bored by what girls were doing, and I just remember wonderful times climbing trees in the woods behind our house. I remember with great pride, being able to beat up a boy who was my age when he was 9, I think—not beat up but wrestle to the ground. And I—for some reason, I always thought I was going to work outside the house, and I wanted not to be like my mother but rather to be like my father and have interesting work outside the house. And it's only in my later life that I realize that in many ways I fulfilled my mother's dreams by going on to be a professional person. I went to wonderful schools. I went to a progressive school in Cambridge called The Shady Hills School that really treated girls and boys the same. I went to a girls' school for the last years of high school, which was like a prison to me. Then I went to Radcliffe College, which was a revelation—just a wonderful revelation. I loved it, and I was able to do well there. And looking back on the influences of my childhood, I vividly remember Eleanor Roosevelt came to the high school where I was, and I remember this woman up on the stage. I was sitting—we all were—below the stage, and I can remember looking up. I must have been one of the younger people at the talk, so I was in the front row. I was a 10th grader then, and I just remember—I remember the shoes she wore, which had these big stack heels. No women I knew wore shoes like that, and she had on a grey suit. I remember her saying, "Women can do whatever they want to do, and I am the living proof of that." She described her experiences working abroad—internationally. And I was hooked. That became what I wanted to do. And after college—
MK: 0:07:53.2 You mean to work internationally?
JV: To work overseas and to learn about other countries and other cultures and to work overseas. I was—I married—when I married Henry we were young. As he has just told you, our dream was to work overseas. He was going to work overseas in public health, and I don't know what I thought I'd do, but I would go along with it—with him to do it. He did have some health problems, and it became impossible for us to do that, but it worked out okay, and I was able to follow my dreams by working at a university and specializing in Soviet Affairs. I also was able to write a book about an African person. My career has been extremely scattered, but I got a PhD at Harvard University in Government and worked first as a college teacher and then returned to Harvard and got a combined teaching and administrative degree and then became an administrator in the—at the Russian Research Center there and was able to develop a program teaching American teachers how to teach about the Soviet Union in the Cold War years. It seemed to me that that was important for young people in our country to realize that there were people over there in the Soviet Union and that these were not demons who somehow were not fellow members of the human race.
JV: Well, I was incredibly lucky, incredibly lucky, and I did work hard. I mean—Henry remembers the blizzard of '78, which was a wonderful time for me, and I remember it was so wonderful to be able to be home with our children and not have to go anywhere for 3 whole weeks because I worked all the time. It was unusual in my generation, and to have a little downtime with the kids was marvelous.
MK: Uh-hunh (affirmative). What did you do?
JV: When they were at home?
MK: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
JV: Well, we—I'm trying to remember how we got food, but we had good meals, and the children were outside—we had beautiful weather. There is something about a big storm often that brings a high pressure area after it, and I remember there were these sunny, cold days and brilliant sun, and I remember the children building this enormous fort, and they would come running in and out to get water to harden it. They wanted to make sure that the different passageways didn't melt, and they would come in and get buckets of water, and they would carry them out into the snow. It was just a very happy, happy time. And in the meantime, I had just been to Dakar in Senegal and come back with a treasure, which was folktales that were in the native language, Wolof, with a French translation, and I speak French, and I started translating these from French into English. So when the children would go running out I would start translating, and then they would come in and get pots of water, and I would help them with the pots of water, and they would go running out, and I'd go back to my work. So I had my cake and ate it, too—as it were. So that was a very fun time.
MK: 0:11:59.6 Did these folktale translations evolve into a book?
JV: No, not really, but I gave them to a colleague who was interested in that sort of thing. I've often done things and sent them out. I haven't had the—what is it—I don't think I quite had—I'm of a generation—and particularly working at Harvard, which is a conservative place—I didn't have a lot of support for what I was doing so I think I tended to do it, and if it was published, great. I never went on to promote the results of what I did. I'm not sure if that was common in women of my generation or not, but somehow when I had done it, I had done it. Instead of trying to go and tell everybody how wonderful it was, I just moved onto the next thing.
MK: Well, tell us more about your writing.
JV: Well, I had—and I'm happy to talk about Concord by the way, because I did do some stuff here. One of the books I did—well, a book—my big book—what I consider my best book—was the biography of a man who was a very good poet and the President of Senegal and the proponent of an idea called negritude, which was an—an intellectual version of black is beautiful. Because Henry and I both together lived in the West Indies for 2 years when he was doing his medical service, and I taught in the local high school, which was virtually—there might have been 5 girls in the class who were white, and all the rest were black. It was an exam school so they were very, very intelligent. I got interested then in the issues of black students and their identities because they were preparing to take English O Levels, and all of their literature made references to things they couldn't possibly know. And they had to study spring in the poetry of John Keats, and they would have all this symbolic stuff about fragrances and the green as a sign of renewal and new life. Or there was a very important passage in DH Lawrence—I still remember these in Sons and Lovers where there is snow that comes and covers over the nasty coal remains—they live in a coal town—you'll know something about that—where everything is black. It's covered with beautiful white snow for purity and cleanliness—how is a girl growing up in the West Indies supposed to understand that? So I had a lot of fun with that. I mean—in terms of making cheat sheets for what references would be, but it got me very interested in the whole idea of what I called then, and I think it's now a term, but I thought it up I thought—colonization of the mind. That led me to this book that I wrote.
JV: —of the mind. In other words, the mind is perverted by an education, which bears no connection to the reality of the student who is getting the education—if you see what I mean. That's far from Concord but—I roamed far from Concord, but I had a wonderful time doing this book, and a lot of it was interviews, which I did in both Africa and France. It led to a lot of wonderful adventures, and that book was published by Harvard University Press and got good reviews, and that was very, very satisfying.
MK: In what year?
JV: 0:16:00.8 1990 that was published.
MK: And the title of it?
JV: It was called—well, it's, Black, French, and African: A Life of LÃ©opold SÃ©dar Senghor.
Carrie Kline: Can you do some spelling?
JV: Well, LÃ©opold is like LÃ©opold. SÃ©dar is S-E-D-A-R. That was his African name. Senghor was also an African name, S-E-N-G-H-O-R. And I learned so much about life from that man. He was an extraordinary man. He won prizes for his poetry in France. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize, which he never got. He was the first African member of the l'AcadÃ©mie FranÃ§aise, and he brought his country to independence without violence. If we were French speakers in this country, we would know more about him. He is very well known in France still. So that was a very—privilege to write about him and learn from his friends and—what it was like.
CK: Not from him directly?
JV: Yes, oh I interviewed him directly, too. Uh-hunh (affirmative). Uh-hunh (affirmative). Fun.
MK: Yeah. So you must have spent a fair amount of time in Senegal?
JV: Well, I went back and forth. I tried to use my time—I was living in Concord. These were the 1970s. I had 3 children. We were lucky we had an au pair girl, my mother used to come and help, and I would go for very brief periods. I never lived there for a long time. So I'd go back and forth. I've done that always. I've never—I later worked a lot in Russia, and I never lived there, but I'd go back 2 weeks, come back for 6 weeks, go for 2 weeks—that kind of thing. Because you have to keep a couple of lives going at the same time. I'm an example of a woman— (laughing) an exhausted woman, juggling lots of things, and I could tell some stories about Concord, which I think is more your interest, probably, if you would like.
JV: What would you like? You're the interviewer.
MK: My first image of you in Concord is that you were skating on rather thin ice across Walden Pond—
MK: —with your boyfriend-to-be-husband.
JV: 0:18:37.2 Right. Well, we—I think it was not thin, but I do remember—and Thoreau mentions this I think—it cracks. You get out on it, and you hear these cracks, and your feeling is, "Oh my Lord. I'm going to disappear below." That did not happen, and we did not move to Concord immediately. We lived in Cambridge for quite a long time, and I—that was perfect for me. After Henry had his medical problem, it became necessary—really—for—and he had always wanted to be a doctor, and he's been an excellent—it's been a wonderful profession for him—but he'd always wanted to be a real doctor. So he started looking around for a profession and found Acton Medical Associates. One of the reasons we chose Concord is that it was closer to Cambridge because my life was in Cambridge, and I became a commuter out here. And for a while I worked fulltime at a University, but then I was able to get a part-time job in Cambridge in the early 1970s. So I no longer had a difficult commute. I began to get more active in things here in Concord, particularly because our children were in school here.
MK: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
MK: 0:20:16.5 It must have been a very different place in the1970s?
JV: Well—you know—if you're part of an evolving community, you sometimes don't recognize some of the things that are changing. What I do remember was—particularly for me as a working woman—a professional woman—that I was the only person I knew who was a mother of children—I'm trying to make sure that this generalization is correct—certainly I was very unusual. Women were not working in those days, on the whole who were able to afford—middle class and upper middle class women like the people who live in Concord were not working in a profession the way I was trying to do. That, I felt, was very different. What was also different for me, and it shows a bit about Concord—just the way people were—is I remember very vividly being asked to speak a couple of times at the schools, and I spoke—I was asked to speak at our daughter's—our daughter was in the middle school taking French, and I was asked to give a talk about foreign languages and why it was important to study foreign languages. You can imagine—the language teacher who was our neighbor wanted me—or asked me—to talk about it. I remember going to the high school—this must have been in the mid-1970s. I talked about the importance of learning foreign languages, which I believed in—like stretching the mind and being able to talk to people whom you otherwise couldn't talk to. It was a career forum so I said, "And then sometimes opportunities come up where—if you're a good professional, but you also speak a foreign language, you are able to do some very interesting work." I was asked to give examples so I used the example of my husband, Henry, who was a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health—a young professor, a baby professor—and they had needed somebody to go to Haiti—to take students to Haiti. So he was chosen to do that because he spoke French. So a woman in the back of the hall—a teacher—raised her hand and said, "Could you suggest something that girls could do?" And I honestly was taken aback. I didn't understand where she was coming from, and then I realized that her assumption was that girls would not be doctors. And therefore, the language that you needed as a doctor was not something girls would have any need for because they wouldn't be doing that, and that was a real surprise. Luckily my mind was nimbler in those days, and of course, I said immediately, "Well, maybe a girl could be a nurse and she would have an opportunity to do something interesting because she spoke a foreign language."
But that was really a surprise. That was really a surprise. So I think that, in a way, I—I don't know what the word is, but because of my education and my more urban experience that I realized that I—the assumptions that I made about what women were going to do were not the assumptions that a lot of people around me made. On the other hand, I—there were wonderful experiences here because—for example—it was in the later 70s, I was on the adult education committee here—of the town—and we were thinking up programs for the school and I—I wish—I don't have the year—I could figure it out, but—I'd been working on a project to help teachers learn about the Middle East, and I had a lot of people whom I knew who knew a lot about Islam and the Middle East, and so we organized an adult ed series on the Middle East—Islam really—here in Concord way before this was so controversial in other places. The turnout was fabulous. I mean—we had it in the basement of the first parish, and we must have had 100 people coming, and it was 5 evenings, and the numbers didn't diminish. If anything, they grew. It just showed how interested people in this town were at that time in the rest of the world and in issues that were really important for us to understand. That was a very satisfying thing to be part of.
MK: 0:25:51.3 Wow, what a great testimonial about the town.
JV: It is. It is a great testimonial. The other thing actually—and again, I don't really know your focus—I feel this is more about me, but I became a trustee of the Fenn School, which is a—F-E-N-N—School, which is a small—then was a small school for boys in this town that went from the 4th to the 9th grade. Our son, Derek, was a student at the school. That's how I got asked to be a trustee.
JV: No, D-E-R-E-K. D-E-R-E-K. And let me think, he was born in '65, and he was 10, 12, so this would have been at the end of the 70s, probably, that I became a trustee there. And I asked—I mean—I can't believe I was like this, but I was—I—there was one other woman who had been on this board—it was mostly men—and I said, "Well, what are women supposed to do?" And she said, "Oh, you don't have to do anything. You just have to sit there and look attractive." I remember that. So being attractive was not my strong suit, nor was sitting there, so I got onto the board, and I got involved, and we had to get a new Headmaster. That was an interesting search, but I remember then that I was asked to be the Chairman of the Board of that school, and I was the first woman who had ever been asked to do that. The people who came before me—I remember one was an extremely successful venture capitalist who had begun the—it was one of the very early ones. The other was a president of a bank, and then they came to me, and—of course—I tried to do a really good job, and I—I can't remember if I left when I could have stayed longer, but I did not continue that very long, and a man came after me, but now there are lots of women who have been trustees of that school. So I feel that in many ways, I was around this town when things were changing, and they were changing in the larger world around the town as well. I think now, probably most—or many women my age are professional women. But in those days, in this town, it was not a common thing.
MK: So the town had a lot to learn about these issues, it sounds like.
JV: I think so, but I don't think this town had anymore to learn than any other town. I think, if anything, it was open-minded. I think that this town—very open-minded, but Concord has always had—Concord is not just a bedroom community. It never has been a bedroom community. Concord has a sense of cohesion and pride in its own town and its own traditions that I think makes it different from other towns, and I think it explores issues that are of great importance to the people who live in this town that have a real connection to their life. I mean—environmental issues—for example—is one of them. The way we have had—and I'm sure you have talked to Marion Thornton, who is a very good friend and who I admire so—starting the land trust very early—in the early 50s—to start conserving the land of Concord. So I would never call Concord a narrow-minded town at all. I think that what it was is the whole notion of the role of women was changing, and those changes came to Concord in my lifetime. They came to Cambridge sooner just because of the way Cambridge is and the fact that one of the ways women—generalizations trouble me—but there were women who got very good educations in places in the cities and who went on in academic life in the cities. It was one of the areas that women could move ahead in at the beginning of the whole feminist thing. I remember all of that feminist stuff. It began when we were in Cambridge. I remember—now—I remember Betty Friedan. I remember all that kind of stuff. What was going on in Concord absolutely at the same time I don't know because I wasn't here.
MK: Uh-hunh (affirmative). Did you ever write about women's issues?
JV: No. I was determined not to do that. I was offered a—like a commission book to write about women in politics in Massachusetts. And for whatever reason, I did not want to be a feminist. I did not want to get into women's issues. I don't know why. I think I wanted to be an equal. I wanted—it was my mistake, probably. I see now that women's issues were important to talk about and articulate, and I think if I had had a—I did not have a cohort of women with whom I could talk about women's issues. So a lot of it was very lonely, actually, but that was just the way it was in my generation. I never had women colleagues, never. There was—when I went to Radcliffe there was 1 woman professor at Harvard, and she was paid for by Radcliffe through an endowment. When I went to Radcliffe we couldn't go into Lamont Library—the undergraduate library—women were not allowed in there. You know—it never occurred to me that there was anything odd about it. That's just the way it was. So this whole consciousness raising stuff began after I had graduated from college, and when I was in graduate school I remember people started reading Betty Friedan. That was the very beginning of it, but I never joined that movement.
MK: 0:32:11.4 Interesting.
JV: It is interesting. I think I was very—why I didn't—of course, I don't know why I didn't, except that I didn't want to be put in a box. I wanted to keep the options open. I also am a very conservative person socially. I've been married to the same husband for over 50 years. Our children grew up in a house where we all sat down at the table for supper. I'm very conservative that way, and maybe that influenced my wish to go out and be a feminist. I think I also realized if I became a feminist, it would blow my marriage and family sky high. Come to think of it, I went to a consciousness raising group, and I thought, "Oh my Lord. I am not going there," because you couldn't go there and remain married and have children. You really couldn't. I felt. I'm off subject for you.
MK: No, not at all.
JV: (laughing) Yes, I am.
MK: No, you're not. You're right on line.
JV: I don't know.
MK: But I got the feeling, talking with your husband a little bit, that he might have also been somebody who supported you—no, yes, no?
JV: Not really.
MK: Not really.
JV: Not really. I remember—well, there was a study done with which—very early on, it was one of the earlier studies. I went to a conference, and I learned about it. There were—this I would not want attributed to me in an interview, actually.
CK: Should we turn it off then because anything you don't want on.
JV: Yes, okay.
MK: We'll pause it. All right.
JV: All right, I know that many of my colleagues who got involved in the feminist movement ended up having very difficult marriage relationships because often their success was threatening to their husbands. And I think that one of the things that made it possible for me to go ahead with my career was that my husband was very confident in himself and in his professional life and in his professional success. So anything that I did, or any success that I had, was not threatening to him in his sense of self. It seems from my observation that at least in the beginning years of the feminist movement—but I don't mean feminist movement—I mean women going ahead in the professions—that in those years there was a lot of confusion about relationships between men and women and how you worked out the hierarchy of a family, and I know that there were studies that suggest that a very confident successful husband and a reasonably successful wife can manage a marital relationship far more easily than in a situation where the husband is less confident of his role and less of a professional success, whereupon the success of a wife can be threatening. But we never had that problem in our family.
MK: 0:35:40.9 Yeah, well, you were lucky.
JV: I was lucky. I've been incredibly lucky.
MK: Looking back to Concord again, there were many, many committees, and committees were always looking for people with certain skillsets, I guess.
JV: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
MK: Did you bump up against any committee work in your time?
JV: Well, the 2 committees that I worked on, which I think were suited for me, were the library committee and the—as I mentioned—the adult education committee. The library is a very bizarre arrangement, as you may know. The property is owned by the library corporation, and then the town has a committee that is called, "The Library Committee," which is more involved with the day-to-day operations of the library. That is the committee I was on. I remember that it was quite—it seemed to me to be somewhat dysfunctional at the time that I was on it, and I resigned from it. I just felt really that I was so stretched with my various professions and children that I didn't want to be part of a committee where I felt I wasn't really contributing a lot to what was going on, and I felt as if I didn't have much to contribute to that committee. Adult education was different because I did feel that I had something to contribute to that. The series that we did on the Middle East was really wonderful. I remember there is a women in town who I imagine you've interviewed, Mary Clarke—C-L-A-R-K-E—who is the most wonderful booster of Concord. She thinks that Concord is so extraordinary that anyone will always be glad to come here and do anything you ask them to, and the result of that was we could ask all of these very well-known, important people all over the place whom I would have hesitated to invite, and they would come—of course. And Mary was usually right. I mean—we had a huge store of people from the various universities around here that we could invite to come, and that was one way why the Middle East series was so successful because we really had the best, and they were so good, and it worked.
MK: What were some of the other issues that you delved into in the adult programs?
MK: 0:38:39.2 The range of issues maybe.
JV: Well, you know, one of the biggest issues was—and it still is an issue I understand—is how serious a course can you actually offer at a—to an adult—through an adult education program. In other words, are you offering courses that mimic courses that are taught at a university or are you simply providing entertainment for people? I think that this is—has been a big issue here, and when I was teaching—on the committee—I think that people were less mobile and less urban-oriented, perhaps, than they are now. So we were able to offer some quite serious language classes and courses in history and what I would consider academic courses. I don't think that goes on anymore, and it may be—I don't really know the reason for this, but it may be that people are more oriented toward the city, and therefore in a place like Concord, which has so many good universities nearby that offer academic programs that people go there. Again, I think this notion of Concord as a self-enclosed community has changed a lot. There are many more people now here whose center of focus is not the town but is perhaps in the city than used to be the case. And the group that is coming back to Concord, I think, is people like us who are retired and who begin looking around town for things to amuse them. I know that Henry taught a course—a real course—in demography—
JV: Demographics, yeah. And this was mainly attended by retired people. I taught writing through Concord Adult Education, and this was mostly—fairly recently—and that was—I did that for several years. And that was mostly attended by older people. So it's a shift, I think, in focus of who is being served by some of these town programs because the working age people—the women are working. The men and women are both working, and actually—says she who did this most of her life—the result is—can be a decline in the quality of life for the town because all of these energetic, capable women who used to be doing things like—whatever—the garden club, or volunteering to help the schools, or serving on town committees and putting in a lot of time on them—these middle aged women are not available, and more of that is needing to be done by retired people. I think that's a change in the way people live. I notice it definitely in Concord.
JV: Yeah. Well, I think it's nationwide. I don't think it's just us, but we certainly see it here in Concord. And it's kind of sad. I mean—I know that they now have difficulty trying to get people to serve on some of the town committees. It's a big commitment. I think that—I read a horrifying article just this weekend, but I think I observe it around me, but I would not have put it the way they do. And that is that the very rich are privatizing everything. They have their own places to go on weekends for recreation. They have their own this and their own that. The community services that were developed for everyone are not as interesting to them as they were to the middle class people who depended on them more, and therefore it's a problem to support these activities—the ones that help everybody. I don't know if that's true in Concord. You would maybe be able to figure that out, but certainly I know that it's more difficult to get people to serve on the demanding town committees.
MK: 0:43:31.9 Talk about your children. We've heard the name of Derek—
JV: Uh-hunh (affirmative).
MK: Who were your other kids, and was Concord a good place for them?
JV: Oh, sure. It was a very good place for kids to grow up. I could get into the personal here, which I actually am not going to do. They all started out in the public schools, and that was very—that was a very good place for them to be. (laughing) The first thing I notice, though, about the Concord Public Schools is that they had so much more equipment—fancy equipment—than the private school that the children had been in before. It was just amazing. And, of course, I loved the private school, and it was a super education, but it seemed as if the town put more emphasis on equipment than on teachers' salaries. I was a big believer in professional education for teachers because I did a lot of that in my work. But the public schools were just fine for the children. We had a problem with our older daughter, which frankly was that she was very intelligent, and they skipped her a grade, and it just didn't work out. So she went—we put her back and sent her to private school. All of our children ended up finishing in private schools for various reasons. I don't know if it was a bias that we had because we both had gone to private schools, but I don't think it was because the public schools were bad. I just—we came to the conclusion that our children would thrive in a different environment, and so we did move them out of the public schools.
CK: Would you name them?
CK: Would you name your children?
JV: Yes. Derek, D-E-R-E-K, is the middle—he's the one we mentioned before. Marian, M-A-R-I-A-N, is the oldest. Eliza, E-L-I-Z-A, is the youngest.
MK: What have your daughters—what kind of interests have they pursued in education?
JV: Well, they all got educated through to the end—everybody in the family got educated—we're very educated (laughing) in our family. They all got educated. The oldest, Marian, went to college—went into the Peace Corps. I met her in—well, stay away from the personal. I thought, to my horror, that she would go into overseas work because I had seen the kind of work that people—was going on overseas by Americans by then and was quite critical of much of that, but she didn't. She said, "Nothing works if you don't have a good economy—if there are no jobs." So she went to the Kennedy School. She got a PhD in economics. She is now working for the Commission on Healthcare Policy in the state of Massachusetts as their chief economist. She is very excited by it because she says—she feels we're on the cutting edge of trying to make the healthcare programs work. Her job is to try to figure out how to cut costs—keep the programs but cut costs. She's thriving. She always wanted to work in the public sector—
MK: Good for her.
JV: 0:47:25.9 —and now she is. I admire her so much. She's really something, and she's married and has 2 girls who seem to be fine. And her husband is extremely helpful. He's become a house husband in his old age, which certainly makes it possible for her to do this.
CK: Become a what?
JV: House husband. And they now have a number of friends who have house husbands. It's great, and these women are something. It's a different world. It's just a very different world. So—and our other daughter has various issues that I prefer not to talk about. And our son is a professor at the University of Michigan.
MK: Professor of—
JV: —of Communications, but he's really a historian. He studies about how changed modes of communication have changed the way people live. Fascinating. And he's also married and has 3 children. I'm glad to say our children are both still married and live pretty conventional homes lives, which is very important to me. I'm glad I got to see it. Our youngest daughter, Eliza, lives nearby. She lives in Cambridge, and she is a good musician. She's a wonderful piano player and writes some. She's one of the bravest people I know.
MK: Thank you. This has been a beautiful interview.
0:49:13.2 (end of audio)