I met Jacques Travers through the New York Catholic Worker community and stayed at his Winthrop Street apartment in Brooklyn for a few months in 1966. Professor Lavallée also was staying with him. Although I had a small income from Social Security, Jacques refused to accept any money from me. He fed me and looked after me and introduced me to people. I don’t know how I could have survived the brutal environment of New York City without the help of Catholic Workers like Jacques, who was in awe of Dorothy Day for her lifelong persistence in offering hospitality. Joe Monroe joined us one evening for dinner, another great Catholic Worker.
Jacques called me “the Vee-king” because he thought I looked like a Viking. He told me I was unhappy because I was a creative person who was not creating.
Some of the kids on Winthrop Street were rude to Jacques, hooting at him and calling him “Baldy,” but the only time I saw him upset was when he saw a newspaper article about a country somewhere that was being bombed. At the time I thought he was overreacting to a mere newspaper article, but he had experienced war first-hand and knew what it meant to be bombed. He cared about strangers in faraway places.
Jacques took me places, to Brighton Beach and Prospect Park. One day he pointed at mannikins in a department store window and laughed at them. He thought they were hilarious.
In 1968 I relocated to Europe and sent him a post card from France. He replied, but I never saw him again because I never again lived in New York City.
He was a beautiful man and a great help to me.
Humboldt County, California