Of all the raucous parties in the apartment Sarah Dudley Plimpton shared with George Plimpton before his death in 2003, she loves the one on Sept. 10, 2001, the most.
“Paul McCartney came,” Ms. Plimpton said, “and sang, ‘I Will’ to me, my favorite Beatles song.” She also got into an argument with Bill Murray about a comedian he didn’t think was funny.
That party, on the eve of a day that would end parties for a long time, was given for Billy Collins, the popular poet. He was one of countless writers celebrated in the storied East 72nd Street home that had also once housed the cramped offices of The Paris Review, founded in 1953 by Mr. Plimpton, Peter Matthiessen, William Styron and others. The offices of the magazine moved downtown years ago, but embedded memories from the old glory days live on.
Ms. Plimpton, a youthful woman now of a certain age, raised twin daughters in the apartment with her much older husband, the patrician raconteur, ringleader and fireworks lover.
She now owns a home in Santa Fe, N.M., and will be listing with Douglas Elliman in the coming weeks and leaving Manhattan.
“Just after the Q train opened, the greatest thing to happen to me since George,” she said.
On Wednesday, she gave a Last Call party in honor of the magazine’s 65th year.
It was just before starting time, and Ms. Plimpton waited on a worn couch that faced a pool table and big empty living room, dressed in a turquoise blouse and silver necklace. In addition to a drink, she was having vivid flashbacks.
“I don’t even know how many times I had to clean up vomit in the bathroom or watch people put out cigarettes on our Oriental rugs,” she said. “My home was always inundated.”
Moments later the downstairs doorbell started ringing and didn’t stop for hours, stuffing the well-proportioned living room with former staff members, patrons, publishers and friends. Along with the living, some ghosts joined as well, including Truman Capote and W. H. Auden.
Taylor Plimpton, a writer and the 41-year-old son of Mr. Plimpton from a previous marriage, stood by the tall windows overlooking the East River, where there had been a fireworks display for Mr. Plimpton’s 50th birthday. He recalled playing floor hockey with his procrastinating father and seeing very inebriated guests getting lost upstairs by his bedroom.
Dick Cavett, who nursed a drink by the well-stocked bar, recalled a barbed conversation with Norman Mailer about mutual frustrations with publishers. Gay Talese, nattily dressed in a pinstriped suit, remembered Jackie Kennedy encountering an unseemly landfill-like heap for depositing her fur. “She shook her head and said, ‘Oh my, George, that bed,’” he said.
While Mr. Talese, the author of “Thy Neighbor’s Wife,” did not comment on the #MeToo climate, Rose Styron remembered a night many decades ago when Terry Southern, the hard-partying satirical writer, propositioned her as a young, married woman.
“He told me I was the only woman in the room he hadn’t already slept with,” Ms. Styron said.
She told him to get lost, but with more amusement than alarm.
“We were smart young women who took literature seriously,” said Jeanne McCullough, a former managing editor of The Paris Review, now a writer on its board of directors. She remembered, in addition to mailbags of submissions, laying out interviews that had to be cut up and taped together on the pool table. And, of course, prodigious flirting at parties.
“But as a young woman, I never felt threatened by anything I couldn’t handle,” Ms. McCullough said.
Respect, she added, dominated those parties more than anything, and it seemed to dominate Wednesday’s party as well. That, lots of booze and plentiful old-school canapés on trays served by besieged waiters pushing through the crowd as if onto a rush hour subway.
Some guests wondered why there weren’t many younger or even middle-aged star authors, agents or editors in attendance. Maybe it was because there was lingering discomfort after the recent firing of the quarterly’s last editor, Lorin Stein, who faced sexual harassment allegations. Maybe it was an event for staff and supporters, not talent.
At any rate, it seemed more a night about the past than the present, more wake than woke, yesterday’s rather than all tomorrow’s parties, as Lou Reed once wrote and Nico sang with the Velvet Underground.
“I remember first coming here when I was Kurt Vonnegut’s editor at 24,” said Morgan Entrekin, the publisher of Grove Atlantic books. “It was a rite of passage.”
Christopher Cerf, a composer, producer of children’s television and the son of Bennett Cerf, the celebrity editor who died in 1971, said that arriving at the apartment brought tears to his eyes. “I don’t remember this room being this small, it always felt so much bigger when I was young,” he said.
Time can distort, it seems. Memories burst like fireworks, linger and eventually fade into dark skies over an ever-transitioning city that has to make way for the new and the next.
“But no matter where I go,” Ms. Plimpton said after giving a speech from the stairs and urging everyone to get back to drinking, “someone tells me they were at a party in my home.”
Even, one would assume, in Santa Fe.