She may have made her career as an opera singer, but I never saw her happier than when she had a needle and thread in her hands. Sadly, I did not inherit her sewing skills.
Incidentally, this is the biggest smile you will ever get out of a Frenchman of my Father’s generation. Can you even imagine a big toothy grin on the face of Charles De Gaulle? Impensable !!
I, on the other hand, clearly had no trouble giving a big, gap-toothed grin on command.
A few years after that photo was taken I had my one and only brush with fame.
Princess Grace of Monaco was to visit her hometown of Philadelphia and a big celebration was planned in her honor.
She would be welcomed by children of every nation wearing their native costumes. I was chosen to represent France and present a bouquet of roses to Her Serene Highness.
My picture appeared in the paper (I’m on the right) wearing the traditional headdress of the Alsacian woman. The huge black bow, courtesy of my Aunt in Alsace, was made of heavy satin with wires inserted to keep its shape. Wide ribbons ran down the back to my waist. The whole thing weighed a ton and needed an alarming number of bobby pins to stay on my little head.
When the big day finally arrived, we waited for what seemed like hours on a platform in the middle of Convention Hall. Their Serene Highnesses were running very late.
Suddenly the band began to play “True Love,” Grace’s theme song from her movie “High Society.” I turned to see this gorgeous woman float onto the platform. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Believe me when I say that no picture, moving or still, can ever do her justice. I barely took notice of the short man at her side, Prince Rainier.
The Mayor gave a welcoming speech, Princess Grace said a few words, the band struck up her theme once again and before I could even get the words “Votre Sérénissime Altesse” out of my mouth, off she went in a rustle of perfumed silk. In the interest of time, they had cut my part. I was devastated. I came so close…
My Moondoggie looked nothing like James Darren. He was a lifeguard on the beach at Atlantic City and he looked just like Brian Wilson of the Beachboys.
I had such a mad crush on him. This was his black fedora. He would wear it to shade his eyes while scanning the horizon. God he was hot!!
I got over the crush by fall, but I never got over my love for black fedoras.
Some loves are well worth hanging on to.
The blushing bride on her wedding day. Of course, there was no question as to who would make my wedding ensemble. It may have been my design but it was entirely my Mother’s creation. As soon as the lace arrived from Alençon courtesy of my Aunt in Normandy, my Mother set to work. Through the heat of a stifling summer, day after day in a small sewing room at the top of the stairs my Mother handsewed each bead and seed pearl into place on my beautiful Juliet cap. And somehow she even managed to find the time to whip up her own dress for the occasion.
This was the day I found the Fève in my piece of the galette des rois. In France, Epiphany, the Feast of the Three Kings, is celebrated every January 6th with the entire family.
The traditional cake at the end of the meal contains a small charm or Fève and the person finding it in his or her piece of cake is the King or Queen for the day.
Note that this comes at the end of a meal of many courses accompanied by many wines, hence the slightly jaunty (some might say crooked) angle of Her Majesty’s Crown.
And while we’re on the subject of royalty, I think I may have been having a bit of a Queen Mum moment with this hat.
This is the sort of style she always wore -- brim swept back with a flourish of feathers, fur, ribbons or lace on the right side.
The only thing missing is that wonderful royal wave of the hand and a handsome young footman in a black fedora to bring me my G&T.
Yes, I think I could definitely get used to that.
And after a long hard day of rustlin’, ropin’, ridin’ and reminiscin’ there’s nothin’ like headin’ to the ol’ bunkhouse for some hearty victuals and a few swigs of Ol’ Red Eye, as in Cabernet Sauvignon.
Aaaah. There, that’s better.
Gosh, I hope I had a really good reason for wearing this hat??!!