Some people who have blogs are good about posting things a lot, sometimes even everyday (many of those folks are paid by the Wall Street Journal, NY Times or CNN, of course, so it’s part of their multi-million dollar job description!).
I on the other hand have become more and more lax, not because I don’t have things to write about, but just because LIFE ,(not the late-great magazine), just keeps getting in the way and I can’t seem to push away those pesky everyday tasks to just sit down to do it.
I’m not a good to-do list maker other than a Post-it here and there that’s tossed once the task is done. (I had a colleague once who festooned the dashboard of her car with Post-its to remind herself of many a daily task. Luckily they weren’t plastered all over the windshield too.)
Sometimes I write two or three things on a Post-it and once I get all of them done, it’s a real coup. I know the I-thing this or I-thing that is engineered to make life more manageable, but I’m not there yet. I’m just as far as getting excited about my iPad, quite sacrilegious for a book collector! But how can you not be thrilled when in seconds you can be reading the first few pages of that 50 Shades pulp porn and not even have to let the person sitting next to you on the plane know about your journey to S&M fantasyland? (No, I don’t have a copy of any of the 3 volumes, either paperback or i-Padized.)
I do have a beautifully made, red leather, zippered iPad case, so when it’s unzipped and opened it feels like a book! The red is probably a bit “out-there” for my usually conservative demeanor, but I’ve been to New York City a lot this summer, so something must be happening to my sense of style. (I have become a HUGE Uniqlo store fan and the whole point of that place is affordable trendiness. And the staff is always so helpful and cute!)
Julian, wish you were here to give us your insights after all your time in Washington DC. And then of course cousin Gertrude would probably give you an earful though her politics have gotten her into a lot of hot water of late and how could she not be a fan of FDR? Come on cuz, Eleanor served you tea at the White House for God’s sake!
Following Part I of my tribute, I received an e mail from his daughter, Denny, in appreciation. She also mentioned that at the August 5th memorial event for her father in Maine, where his ashes are interred, she would read some excerpts that I had included from his memoir about Kemankeag in Part I.
I didn’t attend that celebration of Julian’s life, but was there in my thoughts all of that weekend while I was in New York City on the 22nd floor of the Bryant Park Hotel looking down at the Jo Davidson sculpture of cousin Gertrude in the park below. I love her thoughtful expression possibly recalling the 10 year old Julian frolicking in the home movie his father made that is now housed at Yale. What a hand-full, she’s thinking, but also oh, so cute!
Another tribute will occur on Saturday, October 6th at the Maryland Historical Society. I will be there this time as I haven’t met much of the Stein clan and will be so honored to meet Julian’s incredible legacy.
But now…on to Part II with more excerpts from Julian’s memoirs:
Until I was 10 years old (1928/29) we lived on the western edge of Baltimore in a community called Windsor Hills. It was an area of winding streets and mostly three-story shingle houses, except for our house…Our house…had burned down before I was born. My mother, being from California, replaced it with a one-story rambling stucco house with a red tile roof.
…My mother spoke fluent French having gone to school in Paris when she was about 6 or 7, and read French books as often as English. They were paperback and the top of each page was attached to the top of he next page. Cutting the pages with a paper cutter was one of my small pleasures, don’t ask me why.
My mother also transcribed books for the blind, first with a stylus and then on a Braille typewriter. She did all of Jane Austen for the Library of Congress…Braille typing paper can still be found in the drawer of her desk in Maine.
…When I was 9 or 10 years old we moved from Windsor Hill to a place in the country called Rose Hill. The name was fortuitous. Rose Ellen being my mother’s name. Rose Hill was a 65-acre farm…the place had a wonderful old stone house, a magnificent barn, other outhouses and an old swimming hole down the farm road…I was housed in solitary splendor on the third floor. True to my strong belief in spooks, the third floor seemed a long way away from the warmth of the family fireside. As a result I used to call down “good night” with each stair I mounted and, getting a response, was, in that manner able to proceed.
Shortly after we moved into Rose Hill the stock market crash of October 1929 occurred. I was certainly conscious of it, but it didn’t seem to affect me personally until 1933, when I was informed that there was not enough money to send me to camp.
It was also around the time we moved to Rose Hill that it dawned on me that we were Jewish. I had never thought about it, even though my parents’ friends came mostly from the German Jewish community of Baltimore. I had never been to a synagogue nor taken notice of any of the Jewish holidays. The only impact it had on me was that the Park School was more fun on Jewish holidays because there was hardy anyone there. When the light bulb went off I still didn’t dwell on the deeper aspects of the matter, figuring whatever it was, if I was one, it must be OK.
…As the depression deepened my father told my mother that we could no longer afford to live at Rose Hill. My mother thought otherwise. She said, “Julian, if you turn all of the management and bookkeeping over to me I bet we can do it.” My father was more than game for the idea and from then on my mother watched every nickel. I still have some of her accounting books in which even a few pennies for a newspaper is written down. She was not wrong. We managed to continue to live at Rose Hill until my father’s death in 1937.
…My chief activities between the ages of 10 and 14 which I remember, were a lot of bicycling, swimming, tennis and some reading…Of course regular highlights were the circus, the auto show, the dog show and the Timonium State Fair, not to mention [Johns] Hopkins lacrosse games…
My mother seems to have gotten the idea. In a letter to Gertrude she said: “Julian started school today with great enthusiasm and a lacrosse stick. The school books – it seems – can wait.”
…Sometime in 1932 I was told that the next year I would be going away to the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville Connecticut where my father had gone many years before, class of 1899. I did not greet the idea joyfully. I was perfectly happy where I was and had no interest whatsoever in going away to boarding school. In a word, I raised hell.
…There is no doubt that during my fout years at Hotchkiss I grew from a naive kid to a fairly intelligent human being capable of really seeing what was going on and making some sense of it. I went from a person who felt unsure of his personality, and being somewhat guarded about expressing what he felt lest he be thought a fool by his peers, to someone relatively comfortable with himself and reasonable confident in that what he thought and said would be accurately received garnering, if not agreement, at least an understanding reception. [Note: the previous was one sentence---quite a mouth full, but brilliant!] In other words, I discovered I didn’t have to invent myself, I could be me, whatever that might be, for better or for worse.
Earlier in my apologia I said that this post was often written even though I had plenty to write about. Now I must confess that in attempting to edit Julian’s tribute, I can not do so in just 2 parts. A life lived for 93 years can not and should not be randomly summarized based on my meager editing skills.
There will be more and it will be posted soon..I promise.
My sincerest thanks again to Denny Stein for letting me use the copyrighted text and photos from her father’s books.
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