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.