JEAN CHARLOT INTERVIEW
Interviewer: I wrote several questions down and sent a copy to you. I would like to do a two-part article, if possible. One, as a human being in relationship to your family and also your function as an artist, or your being as an artist. Many artists never marry.
Charlot: (Comment on concern about the tape player––not relevant.)
Interviewer: And then I thought, I donÕt know anything about art at all, so it would take a very knowledgeable person––which I am not. But I would like to do something on a relationship, about a man and a woman, a nice long marriage, a successful artist, and then talk to Zohmah and do an interview with her, if possible, on her feelings of what it has meant to be an artistÕs wife. I think the women would be very interested in this, and what it has meant to you...how much freedom, in a sense, you have had to sacrifice because of the family and whether you have had to sacrifice at all, as an artist, to be a father. These are things of interest to women. I donÕt know whether it would be of interest to men, but maybe. So that is my purpose in seeking an interview with you.
Charlot: ShouldnÕt you start with Zohmah, then you could clear your questions a little better?
Interviewer: No, I can always go back on other separate things. I donÕt want them the same. I want them separate, with no thought of what she is going to say or her thoughts of what youÕre going to say. And it neednÕt be terribly long, and IÕm going to take notes. IÕm not going to rely completely on this. IÕm going to take notes on the things that I think are important. So IÕm going to have you tell how you feel about the domestic scene in relation to your art. Is it healthy? Has it hindered you? Or maybe a little of both?
Charlot: I donÕt think that there is that much relation. IÕm not like a man who has a job, and he can be a desk man, and then goes to his family with the paycheck at the end of the week. When I am at my job, I am at my job, and when I am with my family, I am somewhat of a family man just like any other family man.
Interviewer: A lot of your work has been done at home.
Charlot: Not so much the major part, such as murals. Murals have to be done on the walls of the places where I paint. So I go out to my job and come back home. And even if I paint in my studio, itÕs not really my home but my studio. ItÕs really like the carpenter has his tools in the basement and goes there to do his work.
Interviewer: ThatÕs beautiful. But we canÕt really end it that way, because thatÕs really not much of an interview. (Laughter.) So letÕs backtrack a little bit. ItÕs beautiful, and I like it, but the traditional artist has to be a free soul. Do you feel like a free soul?
Charlot: Not in the least, and I donÕt know what you mean by a ÒtraditionalÓ artist. The idea of the artist being different from other people is a very modern idea. The artist against the world and trying to work at his ego and what he is is an entirely new idea. For thousands of years the artist has been a craftsman first. And thatÕs why I was comparing myself with a carpenter, because a carpenter works with his hands. So does the artist.
Interviewer: I understand that. Perhaps itÕs a new idea, but it is an idea that I grew up with. Apparently false, but there have been.... Let me go a little deeper within myself to explain something. Perhaps the carpenter––I think all men do to some extent––have a feeling when they are producing something that this is an important thing to do. But artists and musicians are so involved; it is so important to them. They are willing to sacrifice a great many things to be able to express this thing that is so tremendously important to them, if that makes sense.
Charlot: Well, it makes sense for you, but all my life I have been really fighting against that idea of the artist as a unique being. Of course, I started in France, but when I was twenty-two, I was in Mexico City, and it was there that I and the group of people I was working with fought very hard to have the artist accepted, not as an artist, but as an artisan. So that you have the wrong man if you want to have an idea of an artist as people think of him, because that isnÕt the type of people we are. We consider [blank]. So you are barking after the wrong tree.
Interviewer: I think it is not I who is barking at the wrong tree so much, because I am perfectly willing to accept what you say. This is why I am asking questions. I think it is the popular idea that has been enforced, and this is what I would like to do––change it if it is wrong––because I like to work with truth. I am a reporter. I do not want to carry on any illusions, falsehoods, that are not true.
Charlot: You are probably right. 99% of the living up is [blank]. It just so happens that you are the one who has other ideas, and as I was saying before, since the cave man, 30,000 years before Christ to the beginning of the nineteenth century, the artist was considered as a worker, as an artisan. Now thatÕs [blank: just a few hundred years] we have had the idea of the artist as unique, the artist as a personality, even a madman who cuts his ears, as Van Gogh, exiling himself like Gauguin. It is not the falsehood, itÕs what happened to two, three, four, five generations of artists in the contemporary world. It is something that is not to my taste, and I prefer to tie up with the tradition that is 30,000 years old of the artist as an artisan. ThatÕs all. There are so many things that are physical: painting, making murals, making sculptures, and that is what we want to emphasize first. You [blank: do] something good, and it will come out, but that isnÕt the point. The point is to do an honest job.
Interviewer: I like that very much. I understand what youÕre saying. I have a question. Maybe itÕs foolish. I hope not. You told me you went to Carnegie.
Charlot: Yes, Carnegie Institute of Washington.
Interviewer: It was published byÉ
Charlot: Carnegie Institution of Washington.
Interviewer: Yes, and it appeared in The National Geographic.
Charlot: No, those were just extracts.
Interviewer: ThatÕs where most people would see it, though. In The National Geographic.
Charlot: About two big volumes of the expedition. So what they could see would be only a summary or extraction.
Interviewer: That is where it would appear though, in a popular magazine, not a scholarly one. IÕm no scholar, as you well know. It seems to me that you have a very definite style. I cannot always recognize it, and I thought I could recognize anything you had done, but I find that I cannot––that you have larger dimensions than I thought. Your style seems to me to be the Mexican, Aztec-Mayan, [blank], whatever influence that you express in that medium more than perhaps some of the others. I understand that part of your ancestry is Aztec.
Charlot: Yes, right.
Interviewer: Do you feel that has an influence?
Charlot: Yes, I think it does, the fact that I am part Aztec. Not very much. It goes to a great-grandmother in my case. It is very important, and I feel it is, of course, with the tradition of Aztec art. I think I could relate to my studies of Mayan art in Yucat‡n and, of course, in my relation with the Mexican Indian, which has been very close to my life in Mexico. And I donÕt think that I could have done that if I hadnÕt felt that in some way I was one of them.
Interviewer: The Mayan, the Aztec, as far as Mexico is concerned, the Aztec appeared in 12 something A.D. with legends saying an eagle was [blank]. The Mayan has been at least 1500, but it seems the more archeologists work with all of these things, the further back the aging goes: 3500 years for the corn, and now it is closer to 5000 as they discover more and more things. The [blank], 33 B.C., and those were stone and there had to be wooden [blank] much further back, and it seems it goes back further and further and we donÕt know where itÕs going to stop. ThatÕs my feeling. The thing with the Aztecs, they came up with the legend or with compulsion, perhaps, a prediction, and itÕs not clear, as far as I know, just where they came from, but they came with a fully developed idea, and they had to have come with a fullyÉ. They took over the civilization that was there but not over long part; they did not destroy all of it, and they took what was there and developed a flowering almost immediately, true? So these things are archeological puzzles, I know, but IÕve been interested in this for a long time. IÕm talking too much, I donÕt want to do that. Some people are able to do so many things, others are lucky to survive. LetÕs assume a comparable, physical, mental equality; letÕs assume a physical and mental ground that is about equal. Why? What do you think are essential attitudes for success in life? I donÕt mean fame, but individual success. A person with the ability to express himself successfully for himself. What do you find in your life, your attitudes, that enable you to make a success of your life?
Charlot: I donÕt know that I have made a success of my life, but I think the secret is not to try and make a success of oneÕs life. I think that takes so much energy that you would lose the will to work, so to speak. I think a man who works for the sake of working has more of a chance than the man who works to become known or famous. That man would probably fail. So it is the inner urge to make you do the things you do. You may become known or you may not become known, but I find that is irrelevant.
Interviewer: All right, you have given us one attitude. Do you think that is the essential attitude or are there others?
Charlot: I can only really speak of my own attitude. I work because I canÕt do otherwise. I am impelled by my own self to go on working. As long as we spoke of ZohmahÕs role in my life, she is the one, I suppose, who has helped to put over my work with the world at large, the dealers, and whatnot, and I would be completely incapable of helping with anything like that because I have no interest in it. So there she comes in very naturally.
Interviewer: Let me ask you something that I have been curious about. IÕd like to go into what I call metaphysical––you might call religious. ItÕs probably a matter of semantics, but do you feel at times that there is an inner part of yourself that is guiding you and helping you in the work that you do, and are you conscious of this?
Charlot: It is hard to say, because usually people use something conscious that cannot be translated into words. But the consciousness of the artist is about forms and colors; even staying in the physical form of the arts, there is no vocabulary for those things. So that is in the world where the words cannot explain what he is doing. So certain people have a tendency to call that inspiration or vision simply because the vocabulary is not there.
Interviewer: I understand that. What I have here is something bigger than the conscious self. I have looked at something I have done and I didnÕt know how I did it. And it was a sense of something other than the ordinary consciousness that I use every day. The work that I had done was words, mechanisms, but somehow another feel came in. What I had done was something different from what I used very day, something different from what was in my conscious mind. Does that make any sense?
Charlot: You are making yourself clear, but what I was trying to make clear is that the artist at work cannot speak of a conscious mind because if he is conscious in a reasonable way of what he is doing, his work is certainly not good. That is why I come back to the definition of something reasonable or something that can be put into words. Most of the areas in which the artist works have no vocabulary of their own, so you cannot always say that you received the inspiration as the old classical Greeks would say, from the muses, etc., God, or whatever you want. They are different things. You donÕt have to bring in extraordinary things. Just a man that works in a world where there is no vocabulary in the dictionary is enough to give a sense of mystery. But I donÕt know if the mystery is there. I think people put too much worth in words.
Interviewer: Okay, very good. Do you see light or an outline of light around objects?
Charlot: Well, I donÕt quite understand your question. If it is a question of the aura that some people speak of and going from oranges to purples, etc., I have never seen that. But I think that the sights of nature are in themselves so complex, and if you want to say that that complexity is supernatural, I agree. Something you cannot completely fathom. But I havenÕt seen anything that anyone else couldnÕt see if they looked with the same simplicity that a painter has when he looks at things. We donÕt look at things for their usefulness or for how they can be useful, we just look at them period. Anyone looking at them that way would probably consider the beauty of nature. ThereÕs no other way.
Interviewer: I wasnÕt necessarily thinking of colors or auras, but maybe a l/4Ó or 1/8Ó of an outline around objects, like water or heavy air to define something.
Charlot: I very rarely paint directly from the model. I usually [blank] one of those painters that paint from the model, I would say.
Interviewer: In other words, you study something for some time and then paint them into yourself and then you image them out in paint?
Charlot: Something like that.
Interviewer: You know, I think youÕre like an iceberg. Let me explain that. (Laughter.) What I have and am very interested, but I feel a very important thing, that there is so much more underneath [blank]. IÕve done many interviews, but I think of something with youÉthat I understand what you say. ItÕs beautiful, but I donÕt know exactly where to go from here. I had something very different in mind, and it is going in another way, and IÕm glad. IÕm glad, because I think it is much more real, more necessary, more important. Much more exciting to me is that youÕre [blank]. Let me ask you something else. Not necessarily from a visual standpoint, what is beautiful and what isnÕt? Is everything beautiful to you? Or do you see any ugliness at all? I may think something is beautiful, and someone else may not think so. A lot of ugliness may come from menÕs thoughts and what they do to other people. And a lot of beauty may come from the same way. But as an artist, depicting things, can you talk a little on this?
Charlot: There is very simple English that you find in the Gospel about the lily of the field being more beautiful than Solomon in all his glory. That is, Solomon in all his glory was the work of man tending to make things beautiful, and the lily was there. I think nature untouched is by nature beautiful, as far as I see it, and the nature of man untouched is also by definition beautiful. It is more difficultÉin fact I really touch the question, for example, what we call the beautiful people, the jet set thing, which could be corresponding to Solomon and all his glory. I donÕt know what it is even, I donÕt practice those things, but anything that is in creation that is untouched is beautiful, as far as I know, and that includes a certain type of people who havenÕt been too worked out by artificial things. Now that is clear in the murals. I use––that will be mostly when I was in Mexico––Mexican Indians, rather than high-class people and, now that I am in the Pacific, Pacific Islanders, rather than the people who colonized the islands. A very simple thing.
Interviewer: I think in my own case I can see that. [blank] beyond the essences. I was brought up in the Baptist missionary tradition and went to church. [blank] do not do this, [blank]. I was absolutely dumbfounded. I was thirty-four years old, not a child. And it took a great deal of time to try to get rid of [blank]. The artificial things are not just physical, they are [blank], but eventually get to the [blank]. I can see that you helped me. You do not know this. You also speak very clearly. Without really realizing it, you set me, not completely straight, as that would be a great big job (laughter), but on a couple of occasions you brought me up short from this type of thinking and helped me to think a little straighter. Now what do you think about that?
Charlot: Well, I donÕt know in my own case. I am simply a good parishioner. I go, as you have done with me yesterday, to church, when I should go to church. I think there is no conflict between being a good parishioner and following whatever is being done in the church for so long––hearing the preachers and going to ceremonies, and so forth––and at the same time working out what you could call a garden of [blank] or what people call [blank: mystical] things. I donÕt think there is any conflict between the two.
Interviewer: Well, I donÕt have the same background you have. Being a missionaryÕs daughter was more restrictive than just going to church. Because in spite of the fact that a person wants not to do this, I think being a human being and being in that position, you want your children to do you proud, so to speak. IÕm not sure and I donÕt want to make that criticism of my parents, but somehow it worked out that way. Any children, preachersÕ kids, have a very restrictive influence which I donÕt think the average children would have. It has a traumatic, not all bad, but in an effort to get out of the restrictions, you may find a larger ambience. I went with you yesterday. I found no quarrel with the essence. Ritual is necessary, symbolism is necessary. I think as long as it is the basic truth, I can have no quarrel. I can see that there is no quarrel, no dichotomy between your life and your religion and your work. There shouldnÕt be with anybodyÕs. I can see that you reached a plateau, a center a long time ago. Your life is [blank].
Charlot: I donÕt know.
Interviewer: I didnÕt know we were going toÉ. This is an interesting and spiritually and emotionally exciting [blank] because I think itÕs what I was trying to get at with your directness that stems from centeredness or integrity. I think IÕm getting something that is like a pearl.
Charlot: You are finished with me, you start with her.
Interviewer: Are we through?
Charlot: We must be.
Interviewer: No, we are still going.
(Conversation about side two.)
NO MORE ON THE TAPE.
CONVERSATION WITH ZOHMAH
Interviewer: To go along with what Jean said, perhaps, I donÕt expect this to take the same role that Jean and I talked about. I asked him what part his role as an artist played with his family, and he said he is just like the carpenter who has a job, etc. He said he had his studio. We didnÕt talk about his role with the family too much, because I had the feeling that it was a good, wholesome, loving relationship. I didnÕt feel any negative aspects in him, and so I did not ask him that. I went by feel rather than anything else. IÕm not sure that wasnÕt cowardly, but I did not have the feeling that I would get anything from it. I thought it would be an aborted effort, and I feel basically I was right. What do you say?
Zohmah: He can concentrate very well. You wouldnÕt think he could work with lots of noise going around. The children can be playing, screaming, but he can still concentrate and go right ahead with what he is doing. So whether he thinks thatÕs always participating in family life, I donÕt know (laughter), but heÕs very good at keeping his mind on his work.
Interviewer: It doesnÕt seem to bother him.
Zohmah: You mean the noise? I think heÕs happy to have the children around. It doesnÕt seem to bother him. HeÕs happy now to have them come and talk to him. I donÕt know whether the children are always satisfied. I think they would have often been happier with more attention. In fact, Peter is the one who expressed it the strongest. He came to his Poppa and said, ÒMy other friendsÕ fathers, maybe theyÕre not famous artists, but they take time for their little children and their little boys, and they take them to the zoo on Saturday, but you never take me to the zoo.Ó So Jean thought that over, so every Saturday he took Peter to the zoo. But pretty soon Peter didnÕt want to go to the zoo any more, but Jean still goes to the zoo. He has the end of his Waikīkī [blank: bus stop] at the zoo, and he is still a constant visitor to commune at the zoo.
Interviewer: Do you think he enjoyed them?
Zohmah: He always said he enjoyed them most before they could talk, and then he used to carry them around a lot. He wasnÕt as sure when they could speak up––and back––that it was as much fun. At least thatÕs what he said. I think he still enjoyed them.
Interviewer: He wouldnÕt go along with me on the dedication of the artist. Yes and no. He did not want to be called an artist. He wanted to be called an artisan, in a sense.
Zohmah: ItÕs very hard work, and he never thinks of it as anything but a great deal of craftsmanship and hard labor involved. And I think he feels more interested in a mason that heÕs working with than the people who might come and see what heÕs done after heÕs finished.
Interviewer: I agree with that. He gives you the credit for taking a tremendous load off, making the translation from his work into monetary reality.
Zohmah: I donÕt know whether I go along with that. If I was really good, I would have made him a really big success, but IÕm not very good, and it took me a very long time to think of doing anything. I would give pictures away and give lithographs away, and it took me a long time to think maybe I should be selling them instead of giving them. So I wouldnÕt say IÕve been altogether very good at it.
Interviewer: He gives you the credit.
Zohmah: At least I did the income tax and put the money in the bank. He didnÕt have to think of that.
Interviewer: Even though it took time, and you are an artist, and you have the creativity within yourself. And not to say the mathematical parts in lifeÉthatÕs a bad way to put itÉbut the mathematical aspects are not [blank], and they have great beauty.
Zohmah: The other thing, as I say, we really never worried about money. We even forgot to tell the children how to count. And it was very bad when they went to school that they never heard of numbers or counting, and they had a very bad time, and they still blame us that we didnÕt teach them a little more on counting. Not so much on [blank], but people used to say to me, ÒYour children are so natural. YouÕd never know they had a famous father.Ó But the children never thought they had a famous father. They just thought they had a Poppa that came home in the evening hungry, tired, ready to do more work in the evening. Peter is a good one to tell you that.
Interviewer: I guess thatÕs very healthy, contrasted with the actorÕs children who seem to have [blank]. Somewhere along the line, the creativity that you and Jean engendered in the family took hold with the children. You released them to their own creativity.
Zohmah: ThatÕs another thing that I always got asked, especially when the children were little and in grammar school. People always said, ÒYour children are always so creative. Other children arenÕt always doing so many creative things.Ó And I thought itÕs very easy––if they want to make stink bombs in the kitchen, and they want to dye all your sheets black, and they want to take all your furniture and build houses with it outdoors––itÕs very easy to have creative children. You let them.
Interviewer: How did they do in school? Were they set apart?
Zohmah: When we first came to HawaiÔi, we went to the Maryknoll school, and both John and Ann, who is the oldest in school, had difficulties. They would come home and say, ÒWe donÕt understand, but weÕre not making friends.Ó So then John said, ÒI know what IÕll do. People like Poppa to have an exhibit, so IÕll have an exhibit.Ó So he got busy, and he painted a whole show, mostly drawings, and then he said, ÒIÕm ready for my exhibit.Ó So his father said, ÒIÕll ask at the Academy of Arts if they will have a show of your pictures in the childrenÕs section.Ó Johnny was furious. He said, ÒI do not want my pictures in the childrenÕs section.Ó He refused. So then we had to think where to have his show. We thought of the library. So we asked if they would have a show of JohnÕs work. I think he was eight years old then. So he hung his show. They were $1 apiece. We sold quite a number of them, but John didnÕt care anything about that. He wanted the show, and he invited his whole class to come. He had cotton candy, drinks, everything out on the lawn in front of the library. After that John knew everybody in his class. He was a great favorite. The only problem we had was that he had done a portrait of me, and somebody wanted to buy it. But I wanted the drawing for myself. So we had a great discussion about what we would do. So Jean finally said, ÒI will make a facsimile of the drawing,Ó which he did. He gave it to them for $1, and I have the original. And they have a real Jean Charlot, and they donÕt know it.
Interviewer: I didnÕt know that John painted very much.
Zohmah: Well, he doesnÕt. He never really carried on with his painting. It was more of a social thing. And his other really great social thing to be friends at school was that he was a good reader. He would take his comic books and sit on the steps and read to the children at recess. So he really made friends, and he still has friends from that class.
Interviewer: Just like his mother. She didnÕt have to have comic books. She had her own adventures in which everyone acted.
Zohmah: Do you want to hear about the rest of the children? Ann had even a more difficult time. What we didnÕt realize was that we were in a different place, with different races, and we just didnÕt know how to fit in. And we didnÕt understand why, because we were really wanting to fit in. And Ann, who is very blonde and blue-eyed, had a more difficult time than John. And also, she isnÕt so [blank]. And then [blank: Martin] and Peter. We had been in HawaiÔi a longer time when they went to school. And unlike John and Ann, who are excellent students, both Martin and Peter were terrible students, which took us a long time to find out. We just thought all the children were marvelous students. We never worried about Martin and Peter until we found out that they werenÕt learning anything. And then it turned out that they both had backward reading, which is why IÕm crazy about phonics. And I had never heard of phonics, and I didnÕt know that some children, especially boys, canÕt learn sight reading and thatÕs what they were getting, sight reading. So we went through a terrible period of trying to find out what the trouble was, and when we found out, we went through a terrible time working with them getting them to learn. But they did, they could learn with phonics. But they never took a great interest in reading that the two older children did. But with our troubles over their reading and knowing the people in education of the Catholic school department, we got the Catholic school department of HawaiÔi to put in phonics in their whole Catholic school system. So in a way, Martin and PeterÕs troubles were very fruitful for all the children in the Catholic schools. And then, of course, Martin is very philosophical. I remember one time when he was a very tiny little boy, he put his foot down a pipe and couldnÕt get it out. So while mother and father were running around frantically, he just politely said, ÒIf you would just bring me my supper and a blanket and some coloring books, I would be quite happy here in the yard with my foot down a pipe.Ó (Laughter.) But we finally got him out. He was a little the same way with not being able to read. If he had to, he would memorize the whole book and then pretend to read them. But then he said he would become a movie director instead, and he turned all his attention into drawing and making films and writing. Strangely enough, heÕs a very good writer. But he needs somebody to go over his spelling. But heÕs a very good writer, and has written a lot, and has published a lot. Peter too, of course, becomes an actor, a writer. ItÕs funny they should be writers when they had such a hard time learning to read. But they both write so well and so much.
Interviewer: All right, let me ask you something about yourself.
Zohmah: I love to talk about myself. Now letÕs see. (Laughter.)
Interviewer: In all this, so many women are going to wonder: Do you feel that you have fulfilled yourself or do you feel that there is something that you missed?
Zohmah: I believe strongly that whatever one does oneself is more important than what anyone else does. You can read Shakespeare, and maybe you write stupidly, but I think that what you write is more important to yourself. I think oneÕs own activities are extremely important to oneself. And it may be wonderful to be married to what I consider, not just an artist, but one of the great people of the whole world of all time. I have never known my husband to say one thing that couldnÕt be put on, read, spoken anywhere. I think he is just the way God meant people to be. IÕve never known him to do anything that was wrong in any way. Not only not wrong but very right, because his casual conversation is always kind of like a poem. Never wasted words, wasted anything. I know all that, but still think it would have been more important if I had taken my own time to do my own things more. I really do. And not because I think that what I would have done would be more important than what I have done, because I have been important to the family. But still I think it would have been more interesting to do more of my own things. Maybe it is better that I didnÕt, but I still think one should. Does that answer your question?
Zohmah: I donÕt know where you find the time.
Interviewer: ThatÕs true.
Zohmah: I think itÕs important. And I could have done some other things.
Interviewer: YouÕre a good writer. You write well, interestingly with humor.
Zohmah: The trouble is, when youÕre around Jean, itÕs so easy, he knowsÉhas a clear point of view. I donÕt say heÕs always right, and I donÕt say he doesnÕt drive me crazy half the time. But he always has a very clear view on things, where my views are much more...maybe muddy is the word. So itÕs easy just to say, ÒHow do you spell this?Ó HeÕs always happy.
Interviewer: Do you mean his clarity of view somehow inhibits your expression of the nuances?
Zohmah: Yes, maybe. I donÕt know what it is. I know that I could have made time to do more for myself. Whether I would have had the energy, I donÕt know. The only answer IÕve ever had on the question that might give me some clue was one time we had met a psychiatrist who wanted very much to have one of JeanÕs paintings. He was a great lover of art. But he couldnÕt afford to buy one. He was a young beginner, and he said, Ò I wouldnÕt dare tackle Jean, and the children are so young and little––wonÕt you let me psychoanalyze you for the picture?Ó I donÕt have to ask Jean. He doesnÕt care what I do. It would be all right with him if I gave away his picture to this psychoanalyst. Anyway, the only clue he gave meÉ. In fact, I found it to be a terrible experience because I found that I wanted all my little fantasies. I didnÕt want them taken away. But he said to me, ÒIt isnÕt that youÕre not a creative person, but it just takes all of your energy just keeping yourself in balance. You put too much energy out keeping your life in balance to have the extra energy to put out for what you could do creatively.Ó And I think thatÕs true, because IÕm not like Jean with an absolutely clear trust in everything he does. Jean never regrets anything whereas IÕm liable to say Òwhy didnÕt I do that?Ó with most people. ItÕs very good for me to be around Jean because he never doubts that what he has done is right. First of all, he knows he has done his best, and if it wasnÕt the best possible, at least he knows it was the best he could do at the time. So he never says, ÒOh, why didnÕt I marry that wonderful girl that was so marvelous?Ó He never does. He married me, and he is completely happy and devoted, so it works for my benefit too. (Laughter.)
Interviewer: But I think this is very significant to many women and will help them to be able to make a decision and perhaps some of them to make decisions in other ways than you have. And maybe some of them will be fulfilled with a marriage at the same time, and some of them will not be.
Zohmah: One thing that was always very interesting for me was being around my four children. They were always extremely [blank]. IÕm thinking about when they were growing up, and we had them in the house. But they were all extremely interesting to us. They were always lots of fun to be with. Jean was always interesting to be with. So I canÕt say that it wasnÕt very nice. Maybe Jean was much more bourgeois than I had hoped for. When I married an artist, I sort of expected a much more artistic life, but he is very bourgeois, and that was a very big shock to me. For instance, when he speaks as a teacher, IÕve never known him to miss a day of classes. The one day in HawaiÔi there was such a great hurricane the streets were flooded, I think he was the only student, the only person in the whole town, who showed up at the university. I donÕt know how he got there but he got there. (Laughter.)
Interviewer: Was this in l946?
Zohmah: No, it was later than that, but it is true. The streets were absolutely flooded. Nothing was moving. And he had to find his way back because no one else was there. (Laughter.) I think I was the one who had to drive him because he doesnÕt drive, but he didnÕt care. He didnÕt think of me, the fact that I was scared out of my wits. (Laughter.)
Interviewer: You werenÕt here in l946?
Zohmah: We came here in 1949.
Interviewer: I heard about the [blank] that took the tracks right off.
Zohmah: No, it wasnÕt like he was going on his own, because I had to take him. And then he didnÕt tell me to wait so it meant I had to find my way back. I donÕt know how I did it.
Interviewer: I can imagine at the time that was tremendous. (Laughter.) Knowing you for so many years, you set your heart on him. You did the choosing, not him.
Zohmah: I donÕt know if thatÕs true or not. I suppose I did, because he was away off in New York and had plenty to occupy him.
Interviewer: But you set your mind on him, and I think you chose your life with him very deliberately. More deliberately than any other human being, because there were several years between the first time that you met him and the time that you married him.
Zohmah: Yes, it was a long time, and I didnÕt see him either. Except one time he came to Los Angeles to visit me several years after I had met him. And he said, ÒIÕve been thinking we should get married.Ó And I said, ÒWell, thatÕs O.K. IÕm willing.Ó Then he looked so downcast, went around moping and looking downcast. So I said, ÒI have an idea. LetÕs not get married.Ó And he said, ÒOh, fine.Ó So he went ahead, finished what he was doing, and went back to New York. (Laughter.) It took so few words. I had sort of lost my heart on the subject. By that time I donÕt know why I had decided to marry him because I really had sort of lost heart. After all, I was beginning to think he was a little difficult. But then I said, ÒI think I will.Ó So I wrote him a letter and said, ÒAll right, weÕll get married.Ó So he said, ÒLetÕs get married the very day I get in.Ó So I said, ÒOK, IÕll have everything ready. You come right from the plane to the church, and weÕll married.Ó I thought that was so romantic. He would fly, jump in a taxi, come to the church, and weÕd get married. But the only trouble was there was a big fog in San Francisco, and he had to get off in Oakland and take a bus (laughter) and got there all tired and bedraggled. (Laughter.)
Interviewer: But you finally did. Where were you married?
Zohmah: In San Francisco.
Interviewer: So you wentÉ
Zohmah: I was living in San Francisco then and made all my family come up to San Francisco. ThatÕs when I started to find out that he wasnÕt as bohemian as I had thought. The first thing I wanted to do––we traveled back East, and I wanted to have a picnic sitting out in the countryside, and he didnÕt want to have a picnic sitting out in the countryside. And another thing that worried me was I am not a very good cook, and he is so crazy about good food. But the nice thing to find is that when people like good food, you just boil a potato fairly decently, and it makes them sort of happy. (Laughter.) I can tell you one story about when Ann was born. Really heÕs an awful milquetoast. I can see why Susan gets mad at Martin. ItÕs terrible how milquetoast [blank]. Instead of coming to the hospital and waiting, he went out, and he read the visiting hours. The baby was born early in the morningÉno Jean. He didnÕt show up till 10 oÕclock. (Laughter.) I was so mad. But he never does anything wrong. When we go to archeological sites and I see something––I wouldnÕt pick up anything off the site––but if I see something under a truck, that is just going to be run over by a truck––and maybe heÕll let me move it out of the way, but he wonÕt let me touch it. HeÕs well trained on art.
Interviewer: You would say, though, that he was a very disciplined man?
Zohmah: I think he must be very disciplined. Otherwise how could he do all he does? And the nice thing is he doesnÕt have to do things over and over again. He does things, and they are right. I think he must have it all in his head, because you see him walking along and he is very concentrated. So I think he has everything figured out in his head before he gets down to doing it. In fact, one time he said to me, ÒI have so many things in my head, I hope I have time to use it all.Ó People sometimes think he doesnÕt notice them. He walks right past people. They think he doesnÕt know them, but itÕs just that heÕs always thinking.
Interviewer: Have you worked with any kind of art forms other than your writing?
Zohmah: First let me say that when we got married, I knew how bright Jean is. ItÕs very obvious, and I thought it was wonderful and that surely some of this is going to rub off on me. WeÕd been married a while, and all that I had taken to read was detective stories. (Laughter.) Jean never read them. His contribution to my intellectual life was to read detective stories.
Interviewer: While he was working all this time, do you think that that was your escape?
Zohmah: To read detective stories? I suppose so.
Interviewer: Because I read detective stories. In ten years I read 3500.
Zohmah: I think itÕs [blank]. It would have been better if I had put my mind to something better.
Interviewer: Me too, but they have certain kinds of emotional, not mental, that one cannot transfer into a creative thing immediately. One goes into a fantasy. ThatÕs all a detective story is. I think many women will relate to that.
Zohmah: Of course, I could have taken a better turn, butÉ
Interviewer: Well, so could I have. Many women by seeing this will be able to look at the thing objectively and do something creative.
Zohmah: Why donÕt you put Peter on for a while?
Interviewer: Do you want me to stop?
Zohmah: Unless there is something else you want to ask me.
Interviewer: Not unless you have something more to say.
Zohmah: I didnÕt expect to grow up to be a policeman, which I sort of had to be, running and taking care of four children. JeanÕs idea of discipline––if the children were jumping on the couch and it was making him nervous, he would say, ÒDonÕt jump on the couch. Your mother wonÕt like that.Ó (Laughter.)
Interviewer: What did you do?
Zohmah: I was the one who had to stop them.
Interviewer: And how did you stop them?
Zohmah: ÒGet down, kid, or IÕll [blank] you!Ó
Interviewer: All right, let me stop thisÉ
 A typescript of these interviews is in the Jean Charlot Collection without date or name of the interviewer. I guess that they were done in the early 1960s. The transcription is poor and contains a number of blanks. I have filled in some of them and made other corrections silently. I have provided endnotes for the few significant corrections. The original tape is not available. Edited by John Charlot.
 Earl H. Morris, Jean Charlot, and Ann Axtell Morris, The Temple of the Warriors at ChichŽn Itz‡, Yucat‡n, 2 vol., publication no. 406 (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution, 1931).
 The typescript reads: transcended.
 The typescript reads work, but this contradicts the tendency of the passage and CharlotÕs lifelong views.
 The typescript reads valley. Charlot often referred to the passage and never made this mistake.
 Susan Charlot was Martin CharlotÕs first wife.