If you are wondering what happened to Mr. Washburn, her other fiance, I can tell you: He married a lovely woman named Nina, who bore him two children, Wallace and Gertrude, and eventually wound up in San Mateo, California, getting rich in the meat packing biz. Wally died as a young man, but Gertrude and Nina had a house built in Berkeley, next door to the one my Aunt Quail had built for herself and her mother. Helen and Nina were fast friends,and played Canasta almost every afternoon. The world is indeed a strange and wonderful place. But I digress. (You will find that I do that a lot.)
|The New Mrs. Harry Hawkins on her Honeymoon|
Wearing a boot to bed didn't hold Helen back any--or Harry either, apparently--for, nine months to the hour of their wedding later, a bouncing baby girl was born to the Hawkinses, now living in Spokane, Washington. This was my Aunt Quail, whose given name was Helena Ann; this name was used only on her driver's licence--everyone always called her Quail.
|Helen and Quail Hawkins, 1905|
My Grandfather Harry was a sweet man, but never very prosperous. Helen had to work, and so she got a job on the Spokane Spokesman-Review. I would really like to dig into that newspaper's archives and see what she wrote. I know what she wrote about: again, she was writing about the rich and famous, in the paper's Society pages. In those days, Spokane was at the end of a rail line, and all the great artists of the time, from musicians to ballet dancers, came through on their tours. She interviewed them all, from Ephraim Zimbalist, the violinist, to Anna Pavlova, the ballerina. Her pen name was Hannah Hinsdale, after her grandmother, whose pet name was Hannah.
She became Society Editor, and told me some great stories about her days on the paper. One of these is my particular favorite: She formed a group of intellectual friends called The Serious Group of Little Thinkers. This group met on Sunday evenings, and on one occasion, she told me, she had interviewed Paderewski, the world-renowned pianist, and invited him to her home. She had several children by then--I don't know how many at that time, but eventually there were seven--and had left strict instructions that the piano keys were to be cleaned, in case the maestro were inclined to play. All went well, and after the evening was well underway, Paderewski sat down to play. It is too bad I can't show you the grimace and gesture my grandmother made in telling this part of the story, but I shall try to give you the idea: She put her hands out as if playing the keys, drew them up sharply, rubbed her right thumb across her other fingers, and made a face like she had eaten a green persimmon. "Peanut butter," she quoted the august man. "Peanut butter." Wet cloths were hurriedly brought forth, and keys and pianist were wiped down. Then, the music began, and all else was forgotten until the evening ended. As Paderewski departed, Hannah apologized once again for the sticky keys. "Ah,no, Madam," the great man said with a bow, "it is I who should apologize to you, for calling attention to it."
|Hannah Hinsdale, in her 30's; a publicity shot|
|Left to right: Harry, Jr; Mark; David; Hannah, holding Dick; Quail; Harry|
Yes, of course there is more--but it will have to wait until next time. ---Nan