Zelda never did this


Frances Ring, the former editor of Westways, wrote a poignant piece in the Sunday LAT Opinion section about being old and losing her license to drive. Perhaps the test would have gone better if she had tried regaling the DMV examiner with a few juicy stories from her 1985 book, Against the Current: As I Remember F. Scott Fitzgerald.

As a young woman in about 1940, Ring drove out to Encino and took a $35-a-week job typing up pages for Fitzgerald. He was living in the guest house of actor Edward Everett Horton while trying to write The Last Tycoon. Fitzgerald dictated and drank straight gin in his upstairs bedroom, often while still in bed, while she typed in the office downstairs. He would occasionally try to dry out with Cokes, cigarettes and fudge, but it never lasted.

One of my favorite stories from the book involves Ring's task to hide the empty gin bottles from Horton, who thought Fitzgerald an unsavory character -- you know, a writer. Once a week her boss had Ring gather the evidence in a burlap sack and drive up Sepulveda Pass, then toss them in the brush. Fitzgerald memorialized the furtive forays in a story he wrote for Esquire.

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