Sunday, February 8, 2015
This is my friend Mary Z. Gray, whose work was among the first I ever illustrated (including the first drawing for the Post). Mary died on February 6 of congestive heart failure. She was 96 years old.
My dad worked with Mary on the President's Committee on Mental Retardation back in the 60s and 70s. In 1982, after Mary had become a crack freelancer of humor and travel pieces, she sold a story to the Washington Post Style section and sent along a drawing I did with it. The Post published the story, which wasn't unusual, they'd run Mary's stuff for some time, but they ran the drawing too, thus inadvertently launching my dubious career.
In her book, 301 East Capitol Street, Mary, who was one of the funniest raconteurs I know, writes quite movingly about growing up on Capitol Hill, meeting Calvin Coolidge (or at least his feet) and living above her father's funeral parlor. I'd heard her talk about this before, but never known the address of her old residence. The book's cover has a photo of the house's current incarnation. It's now the Haskell Center, part of the Folger Shakespeare Library where my wife works as a teaching artist. It's cosmic, like it was meant to be, and I think she'd be tickled.
There's a full interview with Mary right here.
WAMU has more.