GertrudeandAliceandFritzandTom…andSamsonandCaesar: Two Anniversaries Await in 2016

September 8th, 2015 § 0 comments

As we move from one season to another, it’s common to reflect on where the time has gone and can it really be time to exchange one set of clothes in the closet for another? (Those of us who live in the San Francisco Bay area or similar climates, usually have both spring/summer and fall/winter clothes ready year round.)

Come September, it’s also time to look ahead to things happening by the end of the year and those that will inaugurate the coming year. In my GertrudeandAlice world there are a few items in the offing if all goes according to plans.

My anniversary-obsessed mind has pinpointed two in 2016, though as the new year gets closer and closer, I’m sure there may be others.

This coming year marks the 5th anniversary of my picture book GERTRUDE AND ALICE AND FRITZ AND TOM and (drumroll, please!) the 90th anniversary of Gertrude’s famous, Caesar haircut! Since the book is set in 1925, Gertrude still has her woman bun.

map of paris copy

Ooops, that's not The Gert! All Hail, Brando!

Ooops, that’s not The Gert! All Hail, Brando as Mark Antony!











I can still recall editing and finalizing Tom Hachtman’s illustrations for the book, working with my friend Kathleen Gross on the various layouts and worrying whether printing it in Singapore, 8,434 miles away, was the right decision. But by the time the boxes of books arrived and I unpacked the first one, I knew all was well, and this dream project ended far more successfully than I could have imagined.

The response I’ve gotten to the book from adults and children has been tremendous. Reviews such as the one last spring in Brain Pickings (, continue to make me feel that self-publishing was the right thing to do. Self-publishing has also allowed me to manage the distribution of the book. The copies that I still have, have not been “remaindered” by some impersonal distribution center with one of those disgusting black marker slashes on the ends of the pages and then relegated to the sales tables of bookstores.

I have sold the most copies at Shakespeare and Company in Paris, in the shadow of Notre Dame. I‘ve felt that was appropriate and amazing since in one of my favorite illustrations, Fritz and Tom, perched in the cathedral’s tower, are actually not far from the bookstore’s current location! (Sales on come in second.)

scarf wave57

And what’s planned for the 5th anniversary? I would like to design a decorative slipcase for the book and sell it as a limited, slipcased edition.  As a book collector, I’ve always enjoyed books with slipcases – so much classier than just a dust jacket. Here are a few slip-cased books in my collection (my slipcase will be covered with illustrations):

Stein's "Blood on the Dining Room Floor, "(top);Alice's cookbook, Folio Society edition (right); C. Isherwood's "Goodbye to Berlin,"(right)

Stein’s “Blood on the Dining Room Floor, “(top);Alice’s cookbook, Folio Society edition (right); C. Isherwood’s “Goodbye to Berlin,”(right)

Why not add GERTRUDE AND ALICE AND FRITZ AND TOM to those slipcased classics?

I also plan to issue an e-book and audio version of the book. Stay tuned.

Now to Gertrude’s haircut. As far as I know, there has never been a celebration commemorating a haircut, let alone a trim that became so well known and one that is such an integral part of someone’s personality.

Yes, Samson had his day or was it really Delilah’s day?

"Dee, not too short please."

“Dee, not too short please.”

In the last hundred years, the long and short tresses of celebrities have been reported first in magazines, then gossip columns, and now worldwide in the Internet’s ether!

But that January day in 1926 – 27 rue de Fleurus, Paris – was like no other and should be fêted ninety years later! Alice picked up the shears and trimmed Gertrude’s Edwardian mane, trimmed it real good ! It apparently took two days to get it just right. “All Hail Caesar, SPQR!”





Women began bobbing their hair around 1915. Some researchers attribute “the bob,” as a convenience for women involved in the WWI war effort, while others see it as an act reflecting a move to modern times. It was often film stars and other celebrities who sported this new fashion.

Silent movie star Louise Brooks working her bob

Silent movie star Louise Brooks working her bob

The style’s name came from the up and down movement of the shortened hair, its bobbing, while walking. Most bobs were much longer than Gertrude’s cut and even the hair of the woman who supposedly inspired Gertrude’s hirsute adventure, French write Elisabeth de Gramont, had hair that was quite a bit longer. ( de Gramont was the longtime lover of Natalie Barney, “the other” salonnière in Lost Generation Paris!)

Madam de Gramont

Madam de Gramont

By the 1920s, short hair for women became the standard, but Gertrude’s coiffeur was more masculine than most of the hairstyles. However, this advertisement shows several cuts inspired by silent movie hunk Rudolph Valentino, which are quite Steinian!


To commemorate this anniversary, I would like to curate an exhibition in the Fremont (California) Art Association storefront gallery, with a working title, “Gertrude Stein Shorn.“ The show would include artworks from my collection inspired by GertrudeandAlice. Pieces selected from a juried, call for artworks, may also be part of the show. Additionally, related events will be planned including discussions, readings and movies. The idea for this commemoration evolved from a meeting with my friend Denny Stein, Gertrude’s cousin, who lives in Fremont and is currently President of the Association.

All anniversary plans are still in the Post-It -notes-let’s-do-a –Broadway-Show-in-the-barn stage. But I’m confident that as the colors of the leaves change in some parts of the world, making way for winter’s blasts and folks in the Southern Hemisphere head to the beach with shrimp for the barbie, notes will prompt deadlines and the anniversary projects will go on!


PS – After posting, noticed that this is post # 99, so…what to do for #100?!!




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