While there are a few more insightful articles about Milton Friedman’s life (I will cover in the next post), one news article from Hong Kong’s Apple Daily (no relations to Apple Computer) stayed in my mind.
Jimmy Lai, a personal friend of Milton and Rose Friedman (and founder of Next Media and publisher of Apple Daily), called Rose to express his condolence. As the call was coming to an end, Rose said in passing, “I’ve a lot of time but nothing else.” Jimmy was deeply saddened when he heard the comment and I was deeply saddened and touched when I read it.
Rose and Milton were University of Chicago grad school classmates and they were assigned to sit together as Rose’s last name starts with D (Director was Rose’s maiden name) and Milton’s last name starts with F. They knew each others for 6 years before they were married in 1938 and they had been married for 68 years. They had been life long partners and collaborators in economics thinking and theories.
In my feeble attempt to counterbalance the deep sadness of Milton’s passing and Rose’s deep sorrow, I would like to quote chapter one “How we met” of their wonderful join auto-biography “Two Lucky People“,
Monday, October 3, 1932, Professor Jacob Viner was presiding over the session of his famous economic theory course, Economics 301, in room 107 of the Social Science Building at the University of Chicago.
To help him identify his students, Professor Viner arranged them alphabetically. This seated Rose Director, a recent graduate of the University of Chicago who had transferred there after two years at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, next to Milton Friedman, a recent graduate of Rutgers University who came from Rathway, New Jersey. Rose had never been east of Chicago; Milton had never been west of the Delaware River.
Initial contact of two naive youths blossomed into friendship, then romance, followed by marriage six years later on June 25, 1938.
Why did it take so long? Primarily because of our economic insecurity. Times were tough and jobs in our chosen profession of college teaching were scare — especially for Jews. We had only ourselves to depend on. Our parents could not help us with expenses at school let alone subsidize us after marriage. In addition, we regarded marriage as “till death us do part.” As a result we did not want to take that step until we had a reasonable prospect of being able to support ourselves and a family.
This book is the story of our lives. It is now (1997), as we finish telling this story, sixty-five years since we met and fifty-nine years since we were married. We have had our ups and downs — the downs early, the ups later, but our love and confidence in each other was strengthened and deepened by the downs as well as by the ups. Our life has surpassed our wildest expectations: two wonderful children, four grandchildren, rewarding professional careers, and a loving partnership. Who could ask for more?
I am sorry that my attempt was feeble indeed as I now have tears in my eyes after typing and proof-reading this passage. I think Steven Cheung might have done a better job in his call to Rose. Steven suggested that Rose should pay China a visit to see Milton’s positive impact on the Chinese economy. According to the Apple Daily report, Rose smiled as she knew Milton’s love and care of China and his wish to see China be on the path to free market. My love and thoughts are with Rose and the Friedmans in this moment of sadness.