the picture of the elegantly dressed young boy above
my mother’s dad.
my mother was an only child.
he’s pictured here with his baby brother kent.
he had one other brother named harold.
george had a beautiful mother with sky blue eyes.
she died at the young age of 36.
he was just a young boy . . .
but old enough and close enough to her to take it very hard.
she was educated and refined and of an old money family.
they were disappointed in her choice of mate . . .
my great grandfather.
she loved my great grandfather and was apparently head strong enough
to make it happen anyway. a very rare thing in those days i imagine.
because she was so adored by her family . . .
she was not disinherited . . .
nor were her three boys.
the only reason i mention this here is that i recently completed watching
the new ken burns documentary on
‘ the roosevelts ‘.
it got me to thinking . . .
how much of us is simply in our dna?
traits . . . likes . . . dislikes . . .
from people in the past whose blood is still coursing through our veins
so to speak.
people we didn’t even really know that well or even at all . . .
how much of us is actually them? they?
george came into quite an inheritance. all three of the boys did.
he grew up to be an unbelievably handsome man.
he looked very much like a young paul newman.
he married my gram.
he probably shouldn’t have.
because he never lost his eye for the ladies.
other ladies that is.
he was a gentleman.
he carried a sterling silver engraved flask inside his jacket pocket.
he always wore beautifully cut clothes.
drove immaculate automobiles.
had a delicious sense of humor
dearly adored the marine and me.
he liked fine things.
and unlike his two brothers . . . who invested well . . .
in manhatten property . . . and other shrewd things . . .
i’m sorry to say that george squandered his own fortune.
they say there is a black sheep in every family.
granddad was the one in his apparently.
he and my gram never got a divorce.
in the state of new york at that time . . .
it was not a pleasant thing to go through.
(is it ever?)
they remained legally separated the rest of their lives.
and yet . . .
she was by his bedside when he died.
i’d like to think i have inherited some of her own qualities.
what creates our internal choices?
i think of george sometimes when i wonder at some of the
things i naturally gravitate to . . . and always have.
i love new york.
he loved new york.
and new york in the rain in the autumn . . .
well . . .
i love all things english.
from the climate to the architecture to the
and the history . . . even bloody as it was . . .
and yes . . . even to the royals.
and the villages and the literature.
i love the sheer continuity of england.
and is there nothing more wonderful than the
black london taxi !
i used to tell people . . . when i was three . . .
” i’m a yankee. “
it did not endear me to my great grandmother on my father’s side.
she literally HATED all yankees.
i remember nothing about her. she died way before i could remember her.
i’ve been told i was not her favorite for sure.
she tolerated my mother . . . the first real “yankee” she’d ever met.
i never got a lot of clothes bought for me each school year.
saddle shoes when i was little gave way to
penny oxfords when i was older.
those were always a purchase.
but other than that . . .
very few new clothes ever.
things that grew too old finally got replaced.
i had slim skirts and sweaters and the proverbial pearls.
preppy i suppose. though i’d never heard that word.
it was simply how my mother dressed.
was she preppy? i guess. though i always thought of her way of dressing
as simply classic.
no fussiness. she was simply lovely to me.
but now that i see it . . .
it was no doubt preppy.
any ‘ attitude ‘ would have been forbidden
i remember a book bag that looked similar to this one below.
i carried it until it was well worn
and my favorite ! a little metal red tartan lunch box !
do you remember those?
tweed and tartan.
i’ve always loved them both. they were part of my childhood.
i remember a little blackwatch coat with a black velvet collar.
i just never tire of tartan.
in clothes . . . in scarves . . . throws . . .
and i know people who hate it !
our tastes are so odd . . .
that’s why i wonder if it’s just a visceral thing.
when bob first saw me i was wearing
a charcoal grey blazer with a crest on the pocket
and a cream turtleneck sweater underneath.
grey flannel bermuda shorts
and wine colored knee socks.
people weren’t dressing that way then.
they were dressing in the hippy fashion that was wildly popular at the time.
or either in
mod twiggy go-go boots!
that look was equally popular.
it just wasn’t me.
i liked it though. i thought it looked like fun!
all through childhood . . . i couldn’t wait for Halloween!
i always was
A GYPSY !!!
oh the bohemian delight of it!!!
i often wished i could pull off that look in everyday life.
i love it!
but it just wasn’t me.
i’ve said that twice now.
” it just wasn’t me. “
if we learn nothing else in this world . . .
we should learn to always
to be happy just being ourselves.
i guess i was always hopelessly a preppy.
well. i WAS. i cannot tell a lie.
i’m just an
on second thought . . .
NOW . . .
i’m merely a comfortable schlep !
i dress very cheaply and simply for here at home in the wren house.
and am i ever comfortable!
but even though i seldom buy any clothes now . . .
when i do . . .
i notice they are still the same as i’ve always worn.
fashions came and went. they still do of course.
i’ve always had very few clothes.
what i had was quality.
learned that from my mother and grandmother.
and no doubt . . . my great grandmother that i never even met.
a good camel hair coat.
a burberry trench coat.
classic. and basic.
” use it up. wear it out. make it do or do without. “
gram taught me that quote at a VERY young age.
anyone living through that great depression of 1929 no doubt learned it.
there is a difference in the regard for money that
‘ old money ‘ people have.
they are not about
they couldn’t care less if you think they have it or not.
they are about looking well and taking care of things.
not a bad way to think in this
‘ throw away ‘ society we live in today.
and speaking of old loves . . .
how about a porch
comfortable . . . not conspicuously sumptuous at all
shades of aunt mabel and uncle penny . . . and their porch . . . i so enjoyed . . .
and granddad . . . and gram . . .
and my dear little beloved mother . . .
and all those
” yankees “
therein lies my love of wicker no doubt!
til soon old bean.