Sassy, Brassy, Unarguably Classy, Molly Ivins ‘66 Comes to Town

Taking charge of the podium before an overflow crowd at Balch Auditorium, the six-foot-tall journalistic giant dispensed witty tales and ripe commentary like so much spirits from a good ol’ Texas barkeep. The audience never went thirsty.

Molly Ivins made her first return in almost forty years to Claremont, and Scripps, on November 10. She began by regaling the audience of alumnae, students, and local fans with a story of her year at Scripps before transferring to Smith.

“I arrived firom East Texas, deadly serious to be an intellectual,” she said. But since Scripps was also what she deemed an “artsy place” at the time, she signed up for a course in modern dance. Her final assignment: choreograph a dance for five women, all of them as gawky and clumsy as she was. She decided to make a joke of it. She called her presentation “A Cluster of Grapes Being Eaten by a Bear” (she was the bear) and set it to Stravinsky’s Rites of spring. The audience watched silently. “Nobody was laughing,” she recounted. At the end, the audience burst into wild applause. The dance instructor approached Ivins and said, in dramatic tones, “I can tell you have a true feeling for the dance.”

Pausing for effect, Ivins said, “Well, I did leave Scripps after that.”

Almost forty years later, a Scripps audience finally got her jokes.

Ivins shared senous tnoughts, too, and it was easy to see why she is a three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist for her political columns and her books (including Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She? and You Cot to Dance With Them What Brung You). She took modern to task for ignoring the treatment of the women of-day feminists wanistan, yet reserved her harshest words for her brothen and sisters in the media, who she said, “love to seize on the most extreme in anything.”

She commented on the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, which she dubbed “The Situation.” While she says she supports George W. Bush in this time of crisis, she voiced her own fears about the consequences of the war effort. “If people die of starvation in Afghanistan, then we will not win the war on terrorism. We will simply be creating more terrorists.”

Ivins’ words on the hture were optimistic, but pragmatic. “I think we’ll live long enough to laugh and be happy again, and maybe not completely fiee from fear. But maybe we never should have been.”