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New York harbor, 1963
‘I was obviously very secure in myself … that innocent confidence’
By Clay Eals
It is her first-ever memory.
Climbing the Statue of Liberty steps at age 3-1/2 in June 1963, the girl from Green Lake could see only her mother’s pregnant belly and the knees of others.
“I very clearly remember my father picking me up and leaning me over the railing so I could look down on the heads of everybody else on the spiral staircase,” Marti says.
New York harbor was a vivid stop on a six-week family tour of the Northeast. Her parents, University of Washington grads Michael and Beverly Dell, were headed that fall to the University of Michigan for master’s work.
Marti doesn’t recall ferrying to the Statue of Liberty. In fact, she first saw the photo of her in red duds on the deck a few years ago. It was among 15-20 slides her father had tucked away.
“I saw that, and all I thought was, oh my gosh, I’m stylin’. I have the whole model’s pout and everything,” she says. “I don’t know where that came from, but I was obviously very secure in myself at that point — the whole matching red shoes and belt and sweater, not having a care in the world.”
She revisited the statue six years ago to research her great-grandparents, Russian Germans who had immigrated via nearby Ellis Island.
A Portland attorney, Marti looks wistfully at the 1963 photo: “There’s some of me that wishes I still had that sort of innocent security. As you get older, you have self-security in other ways, but not quite that innocent confidence.”
Here is a video interview of Marti Dell, along with two additional photos.