William F. Buckley Jr.

William F. Buckley Jr. Click image to expand.
William F. Buckley Jr.

I would take my wife north from San Francisco 100 miles to see the Bohemian Grove, very interesting idea. In the 30-odd years I’ve been going there, for three days every summer, she has heard about it from me on and off, and read about it from others, and from time to time expressed (nonmilitant) curiosity to see it. Two or three friends clocked in on the idea and lo! a veritable party evolved, a total of 63 people and a day’s program to resemble a Day at the Grove in full season, which is the last fortnight in July, but of course men only. Men-only business is institutionally fragile, and pressures continue on the Bohemian Club but have been by and large contained (women must be hired in the major dining area). Not long ago Lesley Stahl was doing an interview about women in the Century Club and slid off the subject. “Can I ask you something about the Bohemian Grove?”

“Well, we aren’t supposed to talk about it—”

“Well, just let me ask you this: Do you get used to men running around naked?”

“The only men I’ve ever seen naked at the Grove are taking showers. But I can tell you one thing, confidential though …” Ms. Stahl’s eyes widened. “The admissions committee doesn’t admit men who insist on taking a shower fully dressed.” Ms. Stahl displeased. So the ladies today saw it for the first time, beginning with a museum talk about the lecturer’s climb of the highest mountain in the western hemisphere (in Argentina), then we had a “rim ride” around the 3,000 acres, the naturalist guide describing the flora and fauna; then we had a dismaying “Lakeside” lecture by Donald Rumsfeld, who described the findings of the commission he recently headed up, which are that we can no longer reliably reckon the rate at which countries develop ballistic missile capability. Then a grand lunch at the camp-host of the affair, with music and a joke or two, and back to San Francisco, for dinner with Milton Friedman and great transfusions of knowledge about world affairs, including the formula for rescuing Japan, which is confidential.