July 8, 2021


We met Bob and Tricia Landen in 1969, when he and Tom were both “new hires” in the University of South Carolina History Department. I immediately was drawn to Tricia by her friendliness and warm hospitality.  They were several years older than we were and had four children—Michael, Jill, Bobby and Amy.  Amy and Heather were both toddlers and the older kids were happy to play with them.

Bob and Tom shared an interest in academic politics but were very different in personality and areas of study. Bob was a Catholic from the Northeast, had met Tricia while they were college students at William and Mary, and got his Ph.D. from Princeton. His field was Middle Eastern history and he’d most recently been a history professor at Dartmouth. Tall and lanky, he tended to be more reserved than Tricia. Every evening at six, she served him a martini with an olive!  

Tricia enjoyed entertaining guests—neighbors or faculty wives for morning coffee or lunch, dinner parties for faculty couples, and cookouts with friends.  She liked to scour antique shops for “finds” and had refurbished some old pieces of furniture. We spent quite a bit of time together browsing through area shops and flea markets. Her parents had retired to Tryon, North Carolina, and we occasionally went there with the Landens to explore the shops and enjoy the mountain scenery.

Tricia was relaxed and unsentimental, and genuinely interested in people she met.  She gave me a baby shower for Patrick—and her hostess gift to me was an old-fashioned wicker baby scale she painted and made a colorful pad to lay the baby on.  Later another friend borrowed it for her grandchildren—but I gave it to Patrick and Julia when they started their family.

After five years or so, everything changed. Our marriage was ending, I started to work, and I was no longer a faculty wife. Many of those university relationships ceased, others became strained—but the Landens continued to be friends to the children and me. Not long after my divorce, they moved to the University of Texas in Arlington.  We stayed in touch, and when they moved to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville a few years later, Heather, Patrick and I visited them there.  By the late 1980’s, they moved again to Virginia Tech, where I visited them several times.  All of their children went to William and Mary, and when Bob retired, he and Tricia bought a home in Williamsburg.

These two photos were taken in the mid 1990s when they came to spend a few days with me in Columbia! They’d not seen my home we built in 1980 in Williamsburg West—just a short distance from the Whitehall neighborhood where they had lived when we met.  We enjoyed reminiscing about our early days in Columbia, and drove by all the old familiar places.  We even had dinner downtown one night at our favorite, the Elite Epicurean!

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