Tough and firm of view, she was also breezy, light-spirited and, in her often brilliant written history as well as in person, always informal. Whenever we could, we sought each other out, she western and with a light touch, I eastern and more formal, an unlikely but quick and easy fit.
It’s Joyce Appleby, and the video is of my interview with her in 2013, when she was 84. What a legacy she leaves upon her death last weekend.She looks as if she’s imploring me to heed her argument, her eyes lit with intensity, her face mischievous and set with conviction. My wife Judith, who had been deeply moved by Joyce’s early book, .Watch the interview above and see for yourself what we will miss from her passing.Among the many things that could be said about Joyce Appleby — her incredible loyalty to family and friends, her unfailing elegance (she could make a plaid shirt shine), her ability to set and reset historical agendas, her wonderful cooking, her boundless energy — I want to emphasize just one: her remarkable gift for conversation.Game, for having been a high school debater, I gave the “pro” position a brave shot but only obliquely by arguing that it would be impossible, given political realities, ever to get three-fourths of the states to ratify an amendment ridding the Constitution of its strange electoral mechanism.
Out went both pieces; at our insistence, they had to appear together or not at all.” Her response was swift: “Let’s you and I do it.” Thus was born, in 1996, the History News Service (HNS).With the help of many others, we made HNS up as we went along.They informed her life as an activist for social justice and she became a leader in the movement for a living wage for workers in Los Angeles.After graduating from Stanford in 1950, her early career took her to magazine in New York, where she honed writing skills that served her well throughout her long academic career.Of this altogether satisfying endeavor, the most fun and greatest success we had — embarrassingly enough — was our own, which was really Joyce’s doing. Bush’s 2000 election thanks to the Supreme Court, she suggested that we try twinned op-eds — one against, one in favor of, the framers’ Electoral College.