"How we spent our summer…so far"

July 29th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Not long ago I was moaning to a friend that the summer has been extremely busy filled with lots of travel, an office move and staff offsite, a trip to the South for a friend’s wedding and on and on.  I ended with the wish for the now prized three months of summer vacation most of us enjoyed during our halcyon school days.  I guess that time can return again if and when I choose to retire, a concept which in reality is as outdated as FDR’s Social Security Administration which was to provide for those golden years.

"Roll out those lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer..."

For GertrudeandAlice getting away from Paris for the summer either to a European destination or their rented home near the French-Swiss border was a major part of their annual calendar.  Just for fun I imagined a group letter (with photos) from them to their friends highlighting a few of the events of the first weeks of summer. (Once the summer is over they can officially write that ubiquitous school essay “How I Spent My Summer Vacation!”)

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GertrudeandAlice and Brewsie and Willie…a new production

July 13th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Among GertrudeandAlice’s biggest fans were the World War I doughboys and the GIs of WWII. During the “War-To-End-All-Wars”[WTEAW] the Ladies drove around France delivering supplies to the American and French troops and were given an award after the war by the French government for their service and valor.

GertrudeandAlice circa World War I

On the road to help the doughboys.

They stayed in touch with many of the doughboys including W.G. Rogers, the “Kiddie,” who wrote the first biography of Gertrude, WHEN THIS YOU SEE REMEMBER ME: GERTRUDE STEIN IN PERSON, published in 1948 two years after her death. (A few weeks ago I received an e mail from the son of one of the other doughboys they befriended named Duncan who is mentioned in both THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ALICE B. TOKLAS and EVERYBODY’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY. They visited Duncan in 1935 during the U.S. lecture tour.  All of this will be a future post.)

At the end of the war that began 21 years after the WTEAW (so much for fighting wars to end wars), GertudeandAlice were liberated in Vichy France by GIs.  From then on,  a steady stream of them came to visit in Paris.  Rogers refers to these visitors in the last few pages of his book:

“Over many people Miss Stein cast a sort of spell, and what had happened in America in the strictly formal atmosphere surrounding the visiting celebrity [during the U.S. lecture tour] must have happened many more times in Paris.  To the one Kiddie of World War I were now added a hundred and a thousand more.  It wasn’t a following she had, but a court.  One man introduced a friend, who introduced a friend, who introduced a friend.  It was a chain process.  It was the old days at the rue de Fleurus over again…”

The conversations that GertrudeandAlice had with the GIs and the stories they told became Gertrude’s last book published during her lifetime, the novella BREWSIE AND WILLIE.

GertrudeandAlice with some Brewsies and Willies, 1945

Gertrude chowing down with the 101st Division, Germany 1945

The World Premiere of a play based on BREWSIE AND WILLIE opens in Los Angeles this week.

Here is complete information from the production’s news release:

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