- October 25: I picked up my dear friend Raven Wilkinson at the train station. She began coming to Old Saybrook in the summer when she was four. Her family rented my grandparents’ cottage on the beach. The land cost my grandfather $5, and they built a place with no heat, minimal electricity, and an out-door shower. Raven gave me an image of my grandmother and great-aunts that I’d never had before: proper ladies whose mannerisms spoke of a much earlier time. Raven’s years as a dancer allowed her to communicate not just with her face and voice but also with her body as she tilted her head in imitation of my grandmother. We toured the Hart House, where I saw a painting that had the lord and lady of the manor with tiny little black “servants” in the lower corners. We toured Plum Banks, Cornfield Point, Knollwood, Fenwood, Fenwick and the shops at the Point. Raven had a chance to revisit her childhood. Some remains the same but much has become commercialized, on the border of Jersified. Other places are still showing the ravages of Irene (2011) and Sandy (2012). On several recommendations, we ate at the Monkey Farm. The place was jammed because of one or another football game and service glacial. The food, in my opinion, was not worth the wait.
- October 26: After a stop for high-test coffee Ash, Kathryn, and I drove to New Haven. I eschewed the interstate. They said they’d found some likely places to film background. We spent the day at Yale’s Beinecke Library where I got to revisit those wonderful letters that became Can Anything Beat White? Ash took a mass of still photos and then realized he had left his battery charger at the Historical Society. That was a great excuse to meet Ed Armstrong, the multi-talented trustee/building manager, etc. etc. at Lenny and Joe’s where we treated him to lunch. Ash took photos until mid-afternoon and then adjourned because they had another appointment. I had the slowest return trip behind someone in a mini-van who reached the speed limit maybe once. An early evening as we were all pretty much exhausted.
- October 27: I slept for 9 hours straight, a record. Woke up feeling truly lousy. Ash and Kathryn went to film background, and I worked on various pieces of the project – lists: funding ideas, people to thank, schedule updates, organizing family papers for Ash to photograph. I drank several glasses of water and after about the third I realized how dehydrating this whole experience has been. We’d spent days in archives where the air has negative humidity. The weather was cool, clear, and windy. Kathryn and I had taken several short walks, which seemed to face into the wind. We’d all been drinking much water but obviously not enough. The restoration was complete when I spent the afternoon making jambalaya. Just before we ate, I ran to the Legion post where Christy was making a request for funding to turn the veterans’ essays into a book. She was terrific!
To be continued …