About 100 OPC members and guests piled into the lower Manhattan apartment of board member Minky Worden and husband Gordon Crovitz on March 3 for the club’s first ever Tchotchke Night. The idea was for members to show-and-tell knick-knacks collected during their foreign travels.
OPC President Allan Dodds Frank set the tone for the evening by waving around a gigantic walrus penis bone he picked up during a stint with the Anchorage Daily News.
As guests feasted on an array of Chinese dumplings and enjoyed copious drinks, other highlights included Ron Allen’s Somali camel bell, the typewriter Bill Holstein used to get the scoop for UPI on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and a ring given to a teenage Jacqueline Albert-Simon by the Chief in Charge in Samoa.
Jim Sterba produced a copy of the last secret communication sent out by the U.S. Embassy during the fall of Saigon. Fred Ferguson told us of hiding a walkie talkie under a baby carriage to dictate scoops from outside a Russian Mission on Long Island and Dong Kingman regaled the crowd with his improbable story of telling the world that Judy Garland had married again – in Hong Kong.
A surprise guest: actor Robert Walden, who played reporter Joe Rossi on
“The Lou Grant Show, the television show about a newspaper that was a
big hit in the 1970s. Walden, who told a funny story about actually
trying to work as a reporter, was in effect a 3-D tchotchke. He came to
the party with his wife, Christy Carpenter, the COO of the Paley Center
Philip Sherwell impressed the crowd with an array of brocaded and blinged-out leisure suits “liberated” from the closet of Uday Hussein after the 2003 fall of Baghdad.
Travis Fox shared a camouflaged and machine-gun toting Osama bin Laden doll purchased in Gaza that sings Marine Corps marching songs in Arabic-accented English.
Two members, Adam Ellick and Beth Knobel, actually brought the same tchotchke – mini burqas from Afghanistan. Ellick was told his was to be used as a bottle cover to hide alcohol from household help. Knobel disagreed, saying that the baby burqas were meant to shroud Barbie dolls. Crowd sentiment swayed toward Knobel in the burqa smack-down.