“An Aunt and an Ort, 4”

While that was the last time Aunt Cary came to Oregon, it was not the last time I saw her. Fortunately she gained some stability and moved back to New York City where she had been living before her breakdown landed her with her parents in Chicago. She took up residence in the Barbizon Hotel, recently featured in the book just published by Paulina Bren, shown above. It was seeing this book title that actually sent me first to buy the book and then to begin to remember my life with Aunt Cary.

From 1965 through June of 1969 I lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a three hour bus ride away from Manhattan. I went there numerous times, staying with either friends or relatives in suburban New York City. On one of those visits I arranged to meet Aunt Cary outside The Barbizon. I am sorry that I never got a peek inside, but the book has given me a good sense of why she may have lived there. While she worked on and off, I believe that my grandparents helped support her financially. They would have felt reassured that she was living in an all female, doorman guarded, building in a respectable part of the City.

She was delighted to see me and insisted we must go to the place “where business men took their paramours in the afternoon.” We walked perhaps twenty minutes over to The Russian Tea Room. I remember being awestruck by the over the top decorations and kept looking for any furtive looking men in suits. It was great fun, though I doubt we spotted any.

I bid her goodbye and went back uptown to friends.

18 thoughts on ““An Aunt and an Ort, 4”

  1. This brings back so many similar memories. I knew of the Barbizon. I was your age, visiting NYC. I had a college interview (I was in college in D.C.) and did the bravest thing I had ever done. I rode the train into Grand Central Station, and walked from there to Central Park and Greenwich Village and back. This was HUGE for me, the sheltered southern girl. My English teacher in college told me I absolutely must go to the Rainbow Room to have lunch and see the city from high above. So, I arrived at the Rainbow Room… only to be turned away because it was men only. While the attendant was kind, everyone stared. Surely they thought I was a hooker. Dickens would have said it was the worst times and the best of times. It was. I wish I had been with your aunt that day.

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