Janet Salter, a long-time contributor to the Beverly Hills Courier, passed away on Oct. 31. The Salter’s three children compiled their memories of their mother in this letter to the Courier, which has been slightly edited for space:
Mom was born when Warren G. Harding was president. There aren’t many of those folks around now, especially someone like Janet Salter who was politically active before she could vote. She hung out with presidents Ford, Reagan and Clinton and met “should-have-been-president” Al Gore and “better-be-president” Joe Biden. She and her husband, the Honorable Max Salter, former Mayor of Beverly Hills (the pinnacle of Dad’s life), met Joe in the seventies and gave him his first L.A. fundraiser and many thereafter.
When Mom wasn’t thinking about how to improve her children (three); grandchildren (twelve); or great-grandchildren (fourteen), she was thinking about trouncing Trump. Her first vote was for FDR in 1940 and, in the final action of her life, she scratched her name on the outside of her ballot and carefully filled in the circle for Joe Biden.
We moved to Beverly Hills where our parents felt really good about “making it.” Mom, a talented artist, became a cartoonist and her “Ms. Beverly Hills” ran in the B.H. Courier for over forty years. She gave the most imaginative parties ever, including assorted Bark Mitzvahs for her many mutts. Mom and Dad noticed that their friends’ children weren’t getting married, so they started the Salter’s Singles Group. Young Jewish men and women were invited to Friday nights at the Salters – free food, free third tier booze and lots of possibilities. At each event, Dad stood on a chair and yelled, “Jews! Get Married and Procreate in any order!” Mom would pull Dad down from the chair and ask him to behave. Still, there were dozens of marriages and lots of little Max and Janet babies born during those years.
When Dad decided to run for Mayor, his champion was Mom. She did everything to ensure his victory and the two of them had eight exciting years leading the City they both loved. Mom was on lots of commissions but enjoyed the Fine Arts Commission the most.
Early on, she became part of the Beverly Hills Theatre Guild, which honored comedians, actors and singers and raised funds for struggling playwrights. Mom chaired the group for decades, only stepping down when she hit 95. Although each year after the big event Dad threatened divorce if she didn’t quit, she knew he was kidding.
Mom went to plays, operas, symphonies, political events, charity fund-raisers, weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, funerals (three in one day at Hillside!), movies, graduations, birthdays, reunions, showers, breakfasts, brunches, lunches, teas, cocktail parties, book-signings, poetry-reading and more. This is not a lifetime list; this is a week-in-the-life-of list.
Once she was single, Mom had boyfriends coming and going. Her pace was more relaxed, but she was still game for whatever was out there; she didn’t want to miss a thing. However, around Rosh Hashanah, Mom changed. She became slower, quieter and calmer. The family was distraught because we thought Mom, formidable Mom, was forever. If not, who would tell us girls to get better eyelashes or us guys to wear shoes? Life without Mom was unthinkable. Her decline continued, but she kept her humor to the very end.
On their Ruby anniversary, Dad sang the same song he crooned to his wife every June 3rd: “Forty years married to the same woman is more than a man can bear!” In truth, although Mom and Dad had 68 years together, it wasn’t nearly enough. By now they are happily reunited, but, not to worry, neither is resting in peace. In fact, wherever they are, they’re making quite a ruckus.
With love from,
Pepper Salter Edmiston, Mike Salter and
If you wish to honor Janet, please send a gift to the charity of your choice or to “Happy Trails for Kids,” 2525 Ocean Park Blvd., Suite 104, Santa Monica, CA 90405 Attn: The Salter Scholarship Fund.