Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Marno vs. Marta

Marno Davidson
My grandmother's sister, Marno Davidson, was home management editor of the Ladies' Home Journal. She was a remarkable woman who excelled in journalism at a time when men dominated the field.
Marno had tremendous curiosity about everything, took notes constantly and traveled the world.
She wrote wonderful letters and postcards that would arrive suddenly from exotic locations, never failing to brighten my day, although it sometimes took the entire family to decipher her handwriting.
She was born in Iowa in 1907, worked her way to New York and got into magazines.
While at the Journal, she lived in Upper Nyack, N.Y. I remember the walls of her home were covered with black-and-white photos showing her posing with Hollywood celebrities of the 1950s and '60s.
Marno exercised before it was fashionable and insisted on jogging around the block even after Thanksgiving dinners.
From left, Carolyn Eaton, Marno Jensen, Scott Jensen, Lisa Eaton
 John Jensen, Dana Eaton, Tracey Eaton, Rob Eaton
In the early 1970s, she organized a family reunion in Colorado. "Cousins' Capers," she called it. Tie-dyed shirts were waiting for the cousins when we arrived.
Rob Eaton
One cousin, Rob Eaton, is still a fan of tie-dyed clothing. Fittingly, he became a guitarist and vocalist for Dark Star Orchestra, a popular Grateful Dead tribute band.

While at the reunion, we went panning for gold and managed to find a few specks of yellow dust.
Marno moved back to Iowa after retiring and died a decade ago in Ames.
Politics aside, Marno's energy, curiosity and enthusiasm for life remind me of Cuban author Marta Rojas.
Marta won fame for her coverage of Fidel Castro's trial after the assault on the Moncada military barracks on July 26, 1953.
She has worked for Granma newspaper since it was founded in 1965. I met her in the 1990s and have stayed in touch with her over the years.
Like Marno, she has led a fascinating life. She once told me the story of her family while the camera rolled (see below).

A family history: Marta Rojas from Tracey Eaton on Vimeo.

Marta has written a string of novels over the years. Her 2009 book, "El Equipaje Amarillo," was recently translated into Chinese, a distinction few other Cuban authors have achieved.
El Equipaje Amarillo was featured at the 19th International Book Fair in Beijing in September.

The novel follows the drama of Chinese laborers, the so-called "coolies" who were shipped to Cuba in the 1800s and endured inhumane conditions.
Marta Rojas and Tequilita
I wish Marta could have met Marno before she died. I'm sure they would have had a great conversation, albeit through a translator.
Like Marta, Marno was fascinated with Asia and had traveled to such countries as China and Vietnam.
Marno, no doubt, would have scribbled her thoughts on paper as they spoke, notes that would mark the meeting of two successful, proud women journalists from opposite sides of the Florida Straits.


Rich Haney said...

Fascinating video of a truly fascinating lady, Marta Rojas. Her superb book "Tania: The Unforgettable Guerrilla" was published by Random House in 1971. It was about Tamara Bunker who, using the name Laura Gutierrez, died when ambushed as she crossed a stream in Bolivia in 1967 with the Che Guevara guerrillas.

Tracey Eaton said...

yes, Marta is an interesting person. she has seen so much and done so much during her life.

Rich Haney said...

Marta's essay on the Vietnam War is available online and remains the best coverage of that event. As a reporter, she was with the North Vietnam soldiers as they hid in tunnels while B-52s were overhead dropping bombs. A soldier asked her if they could make her more comfortable. She said she longed for some ice cream. Later that night she was given a carton of ice cream from Saigon. She said it was delicious and, if the soldier could get the ice cream so quickly from Saigon, it also told her which side was going to win the war. I was reminded of that as I watched your video a second time.