An Editing Love Story at UC Press

Legendary environmental leader and publisher David Brower (the subject of an exhibit at Doe Library at UC Berkeley until March 31) worked as an editor at UC Press 70 years ago and met his future wife, Anne, on the job. In the current issue of the Cal alumni magazine, their son Kenneth Brower shares this story of how his parents met:

My parents met in 1941 as editors at the University of California Press. To my mother’s annoyance, the press manager assigned my father a desk in her small office. The new hire—a mountain climber, tall, unpolished—irritated her not just by his personality and his invasion of her space, but by his salary. Gender equality was not yet a blip on the radar. (Radar itself, coined just the year before, was not yet a blip on the radar.) My mother had seniority, yet from his first day my father, with his Y chromosome, drew a paycheck nearly equal to hers.

In time she relented. Their conversations grew warmer. My father found he could make her laugh.

It happened one week that Anne Hus, my mother, was struggling with a dull manuscript overloaded with footnotes. David Brower, my father, waited until she was away at lunch and then typed up a page himself and slipped it in. His insert began in the author’s stuffy style, then slowly morphed into parody and finally into ridiculousness, complete with nonsensical footnotes. My mother, pencil in hand, was halfway through the page when she realized her manuscript had been hijacked. The look on her face, and then her laughter—it was a small triumph my father would never forget. There were complications to the stunt, unfortunately: When the author asked for the manuscript back to make some changes, my mother forgot to remove the apocryphal page. The author was not amused.

But it all worked out in the end. As nearly as I can figure, I owe my existence to a slow day at UC Press and a bunch of counterfeit footnotes.