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Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Walters’

How was your childhood?

In behavior, children, domestic life, family, parenting on April 19, 2013 at 4:04 am

By Caitlin Kelly

I loved this recent special issue of New York magazine focused on childhood in New York.

Barbara Walters’ dad ran nightclubs?

Chevy Chase got stabbed in the back by a mugger?

Matthew Broderick in Sweden to promote Ferris ...

Matthew Broderick in Sweden to promote Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matthew Broderick was robbed constantly?

The black and white photos are fantastic, and the memories, of New York and childhood, lovely.

I was born in Vancouver, and lived in London ages two to five, before moving to Toronto where I lived to the age of 30.

My childhood was a mixture of material comfort and emotional chaos. We lived, until my parents split up, in a large, beautiful house in a nice neighborhood. We had a huge backyard, a maid named Ada and I walked to school. But my parents were miserable and I used to hide behind the living room curtains as they shouted at one another. It was a relief when they divorced and my mother and I moved into an apartment in a downtown area much less charming.

I was at boarding school at eight, and summer camp all summer every year ages eight to 15. So I didn’t see that much of my parents. I was then an only child, so grew used to amusing myself with books, toys, art, sports.

I spent my school year awakened by bells: 6:55 wake-up; 7:05 walk around the block, regardless of weather; 7:25 breakfast. And so on. We wore plaid kilts and ties, in the Hunting Stewart tartan, and black oxfords and dark green knee socks. In summer, our camp uniform was yellow and blue, white for Sunday chapel. I spent most of my childhood surrounded by strangers — room-mates, cabin-mates, teachers, housemothers and counselors.

In retrospect, it was a distinctly odd way to grow up.

But it’s what I knew. I got a terrific education, made some wonderful friends at camp and developed my athletic skills. Camp was my happiest time and forever shaped my love of nature and outdoor adventure. I learned how to canoe, water-ski, swim, sail, ride horses. I collected badges and awards and prizes, at school and camp, for my talents, whether athletic or intellectual.

Every summer I would act in a musical, Flower Drum Song or Sound of Music or Hello Dolly!. I usually won the the lead, so knew from an early age I could win and hold an audience. I wrote songs and played them on my guitar, singing before the whole camp, an audience of 300 or so, strangely fearless.

I felt loved and safe at camp, while by Grade Nine I was always in some sort of trouble at school — my bed was messy, I talked too much in class, I sassed teachers and got into radio wars with room-mates. When my neatness scores (!) fell too low, I’d be confined to campus on weekends and had to memorize Bible  verses to atone. (“For God so loved the world…” John 3: 16, kids.)

We were only allowed to watch an hour or so of television on Sunday evenings, although we were taken to the ballet and the Royal Winter Fair to watch horse-jumping. Every Wednesday night, after filling out a permission slip, we could go out for dinner with a friend or relative — the lonely kids left behind were fed a comforting meal of fried chicken with cranberry sauce and corn.

Privacy was an unimaginable luxury when you always shared a room with four or six others. There was nowhere to shut a door and just be alone in silence, to exult or cry. I was sent to my room at school, as punishment, for laughing too loudly. We were constantly told to be “ladylike.” In both places, we ate our meals communally, at large tables, consuming whatever food was served to us whenever it was offered.

Many decades later, I’m still seeing the many ways this has shaped me, for better and for worse.

How was your childhood?

Brooke Astor Story Continues — Juror In Marshall Trial Alleges Threat From Fellow Juror; Astor's Country Estate Unsold At $10.5 M

In Crime on February 25, 2010 at 1:55 pm
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 21:  Anthony Marshall (C),...

Anthony Marshall, Astor's son. Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The trial of Anthony Marshall, only son of philanthropist Brooke Astor, who died in August 2007, is under question after a juror on the case has said she was frightened into her decision.

The 19-week trial, which produced 18,000 pages of documents and pulled into the courtroom such social luminaries as Annette de la Renta, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Walters and Henry Kissinger, left Marshall, age 85, convicted of defrauding his mother and sentenced in December 2009 to up to three years in prison.

Meryl Gordon, a colleague of mine, covered the drama for Vanity Fair; she is the author of an Astor biography.

Wrote The New York Times:

That evil pours forth in “Mrs. Astor Regrets,” Meryl Gordon’s painstakingly detailed narrative of the events leading to the indictment of Anthony Marshall. Gordon seems to have left no diary unread, no servant unsolicited, no socialite unturned. Her stamina is remarkable. Within the first few pages, she quotes Nancy Reagan, Barbara Walters, both Nancy and Henry Kissinger, Louis Auchincloss, Philippe de Montebello, Vartan Gregorian and Annette de la Renta. If the tabloids are your morning cup of tea, this is your book. Gordon takes us into a world of refined sensibilities: “We had a rule that on walks you could not talk about any subject, only people,” Henry Kissinger says, describing the fun of Christmas holidays at the de la Rentas’ luxurious home in the Dominican Republic. “You could not say a good word about anybody. Brooke lived up to it.”

Astor’s country estate, a 10-bedroom stone mansion built in 1927, remains on the market, priced at $10.5 million, but not an easy property to show in a down market as all her belongings have been removed for sale at auction.

The 64-acre property is considered one of the best parcels left in Westchester county, 25 miles north of Manhattan. It is not, by far, the most expensive on our local market these days — with competing properties priced at $$20,000,000 or more.

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