When my father was young, he lived in Ithaca
, New York
, home of Cornell University
. Nabokov, a professor
at the time, lived four houses down the street. Now it's worthwhile to note that winter
in Ithaca is very cold and snowy
, with this weather often extending well into late fall
and early spring
My father once told me that on each morning that the snow would block cars parked on the side of the road,
(which, due to new snowfall or wind creating drifts out of snow on the ground, was a fairly common thing,) the same thing would happen.
Nabokov would walk out his front door and get in his car. He would start the engine and attempt to drive. He would get nowhere. At this point, he would roll down the window and call for his wife Vera. She would bustle out the front door and quickly shovel snow out of the way, freeing the car. At this point, Nabokov would drive off.
As far as my father or his friends could tell, he never said a word to Vera while this happened. He would follow this pattern no matter how much or how little snow was obstructing his path, even when a cursory observation would tell the car was obviously stuck before he got in. He would never clear the snow himself, and he would never get out of the car while his wife did it.
An interesting little insight into the private life of this talented and prolific author.
*Note* yegorm alerts me that it is documented that Nabokov himself never learned to drive, and Vera acted as his chauffeur. Perhaps my father, around 65 at the time he told me this, had fuzzy memories of six decades earlier, I'm not sure. Luckily, he's still alive for me to ask, and I will try to get the situation clarified.