Jane Heimlich

Give a Book for the Holidays: Our OFP Favorites

The holiday spirit in this office is infectious. As I walked over to discuss this blog post with our graphic designer, I was almost blinded by the blinking Christmas light necklace that our Publisher had given her. Very serious evidence here:

Now that the decorations are up and the festive sweaters are out, it's now time for rampant consumerism. If your holiday buying season has been anything like mine so far, you spent Black Friday trying to avoid the claustrophobic mess of people at the mall, participated in Small Business Saturday by strolling around your local downtown, and woke up at 6am on Cyber Monday buying several very large gift orders and a case of red wine (that you swear you're going to give away as gifts). At this point in the season, you're starting to get a little worn out, and you need direction, guidance, advice, and/or a divine message to help you find the right gift for that one family member or friend that is impossible to shop for.

Well, we have the perfect solution: an OFP book.

And we're going to go one better and give you our favorite picks for OFP gifts. So here is what we will be giving this year:

Brittany (Designer): Mine would be Amy’s Table by Amy Tobin. I am giving it as a Christmas gift to my grandma. She loves to cook, and make cooking fun.  This is the perfect book for that. Also, she is a breast cancer survivor and part of the proceeds of Amy’s Table benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer awareness. 

Amy's Table Cover Image

JB (Editor): I'm giving 1968: The Year That Saved Ohio State Football by David Hyde. It goes to my jock associates at the gym, who caught me reading an Anita Brookner novel. The book's cover featured a sad lady staring at a clock. So this gift might help restore my locker-room cred, and it's also one of the best sports books ever written. I know this not because I edited David's book but because of having taught a class in sports lit. Not a prejudiced editorial bone in my body, of course.

1968: The Year That Saved Ohio State Football

Janice (Office Manager): Mine would be Cash, Cars, & Kisses by John Fulker. I am giving it as a Christmas present to my father-in-law and my husband’s grandmother. They both like true stories with suspense and this book definitely has that. Once you start reading it you don’t want to put it down. Plus the book cover is so awesome (Great job Brittany!).

Cash, Cars, & Kisses

Marcy (Publisher): My favorite book is Never Not A Lovely Moon by Caroline McHugh. And I've given it as a gift for teenagers, young women, postmenopausal women, and even older gentlemen. Its wisdom transcends all ages and demographics.

Never Not a Lovely Moon

Sarah (Production Lead): My book is The Legends: Cincinnati Bengals by Chick Ludwig, because A) the Bengals are on a hot streak right now, winning four games in a row B) even if you aren’t a football fan, the book is full of interesting profiles on men who could probably bench press a small automobile and C) if you don’t like to read, there are 54 pictures to look at. If I say who I’m giving it to, well that would just ruin the surprise!

The Legends: Cincinnati Bengals

Kelsey (Business Development, and, you guessed it, Social Media): This year I'm giving my grandmother(s) Out of Step by Jane Murray Heimlich. I know that she came  from an era that they both love to remember and read about, and that they will love the dancing, the intrigue, and the real-life story of family relationships. They are two of the strongest women in my life, and the story of a similarly strong and engaging woman will be perfect for them.

So go ahead and keep on shopping, because a story, beautifully told, is one of the greatest gifts you can give.


Tiny Dancer Turned Author: Remembering Jane Murray Heimlich

Jane Murray Heimlich Jane Murray Heimlich stopped writing a while ago. Her Parkinson’s made her hands too shaky to hold a pencil and her memory required someone else to fill in the details.

The daughter of the king of ballroom, Jane was never much into the dancing empire her father, Arthur Murray, had created. Dancing had taken him away and turned him into a stranger to Jane and her twin sister, Phyllis. It had made her mother, Kathryn, crash into herself and attempt suicide because he loved the dancing business more than their family. He treated his wife as if she were his third child, leaving her home alone to eat the cold dinner she had hours earlier prepared for her king, while he gave a southern belle late night lessons at the dance studio.

John Baskin, as he was editing Jane’s memoir, Out of Step and trying to extract more information about her dysfunctional history, apologized for delving so deeply into her family. Jane’s response was, “That’s all right. Maybe one day I’ll have a go at your family.”

I made Jane tell the same story over and over again at her book signings, the one about her interview of actress Joan Crawford: Joan had brought Jane to her apartment so she could show Jane how she packed her glamorous outfits into her suitcase. Jane went reluctantly as she had already spent an entire afternoon with her and desperately needed to get home to her children. So when she finally had the opportunity to politely say, “Gee, it’s getting late, I really must be going,” Joan said, “Yes, but please wait one minute, I have a gift for you,” and whirled away into another room to retrieve what one hoped would be something magnificent and glamorous. Instead she returned with and placed in Jane’s hand, one wooden hanger. Jane, dumbfounded, took it and left.

After I had read this passage in her book, I said to Jane, “Wow, this lady sure had a hang up with hangers.” And Jane laughed her deep gravelly laugh; the one her husband said was so deep it was in the carpet.

Jane married Hank (Henry) Heimlich, creator of the Heimlich maneuver that will most definitely save you if you are choking. This I am sure of, having had it done to me when I was gagging on pizza cheese at the apex of my innocence. My mother saved my eight-year-old life, and as a result I did not eat pizza for several years.

Jane passed away Saturday at the age of 86 from her lengthy battle with Parkinson’s. All I could think about was the woman who made me laugh with her droll sense of humor and spoke slowly and measured, as if every word were on trial before it was pushed into the air. Jane and Henry came to Orange Frazer’s 25th anniversary party in July of this year. She was more elegant, even in her wheel chair, than the rest of us. I hadn’t heard from her since then because, I found out, the Parkinson’s had finally taken her voice, along with her ability to hold that pencil.

I would like to imagine, upon her passing, that she is twirling into the ether to greet her mother and father who had both died many years ago—a happy reunion, a family dancing to the twinkle of the stars, like the ending to a Disney film. But that’s not Jane. Her heaven would be a spot in solitude on her own private star, observing and writing about all the heavenly things that amused her and thinking to herself, “I never much liked dancing…”