J.D. Salinger's Widow Thanks Town for Guarding Their Privacy For Many Years
J.D. Salinger's widow, Colleen Salinger, wrote a letter the Cornish Valley News thanking the community for helping guard her husband's privacy over the years. The entire town worked to ensure the privacy of its most famous resident. Storekeepers would even give tourists incorrect directions to his house.
"Cornish is a truly remarkable place. This beautiful spot afforded my husband a place of awayness from the world. The people of this town protected him and his right to his privacy for many years. I hope, and believe, they will do the same for me," Colleen Salinger, also known locally as Colleen O'Neill, wrote in an e-mail yesterday to the Valley News.
For more than five decades, the author's neighbors and friends hid his whereabouts from what Cornish resident Peter Burling called "the annual parade of English majors."
It was, "one of the most enjoyable municipal conspiracies ever, how to keep everyone guessing where Jerry Salinger lived," said Burling, who for 44 years has lived several doors from Salinger's Lang Road home.
"You very quickly got kind of wrapped up in the joke of it all. They were all so desperate to see if they could talk to the great man," he said.
Few of them -- from away -- actually did.
A favorite pastime at Cornish General Store, in Cornish Flat, was sending people searching for Salinger out into the weeds.
"I never told where he lived," Mike Ackerman, a 42-year-old Cornish native who's run the store for two years, said yesterday. The directions given to Salinger-seekers varied, he said.
"It really depended on the attitude of the person coming in how much fun we would have with that person," said Ackerman, who met Salinger when he was working for UPS and delivered packages to the author's house.
How hilarious is that? The entire town conspired to keep the press English majors away. The townspeople quoted in the article said Salinger was quite a nice neighbor. The UPS delivery man said he would pass the time of day when he delivered his packages. That certainly doesn't jibe with some of the unflattering reports about the reclusive author.