Monday, December 15, 2008

1938, June 17: HMK to RH-- Lily Pons Wedding

Friday, June 17th

Dearest R.H.;

You have been punishing me, haven't you, and most certainly I deserve punishment but even if there has been no concrete evidence of it I have been thinking of you, more often than you might believe. Each time I put fresh flowers at the foot of the little shrine, I say "Mary of Perpetual Help, help and bless dear R.H."

And now about what I have been doing besides mow and dig and plant and weed and wash and iron and clean and sweep and sew and cook and so on, world without end. Things have been bad with us. Dick has been gone now five months in all, with occasional short visits here when I have had to have his help, for I have been doing some, I suppose you might call it, catering. I did two buffets for Lucy Newton-- one of them for 45 and of all things I did the breakfast, also a buffet, for Lily Pons' wedding. Farrar called me one afternoon to say Lily was there and wanted to see me about something very important so I went up just as I was from planting some Venetian Chicory that Arkie Lubetkin had just brought me from Italy. Lily was cute in blue slacks, shirt and beret and looked like a French school boy. She told me, with her pronounced but unaffected accent, that she was having a so important luncheon, that only I could do it, and she wanted but two things: the famous Shaker Hollow Turkey Pies, made with breast of turkey, cream, mushrooms, and special herbs with a puff paste crust and la creme brulee. The rest she left to me. Not until I took the things over to her lovely French Provincial house and saw a little muff made of tiny white carnations in the ice chest did I suspect and then she peeped into the kitchen and said-- "Eet ees a secret-- but eet ees my wedding day." I all but fell into the ice chest.

It was very lovely. Farrar, in a miracle [?] dress of two shades of Petunia (Sciaparelli) with shoes, gloves, and hat (Suzi) was her only attendant and privately, far outshone the bride. At the foot of a long flight of steps, set in the grass with rock plants between, is a swimming pool lined with turquoise tile and with tall native black cedars all about, so that it looks like the Riviera. Beside it [is] a small guest house like the big one, of whitewashed brick with a tower and pink geraniums all about, and this was the chapel. Solid ropes of white peonies 8 inches through looped from the cross beams to the floor, the big fireplace banked high with calla lilies, a little altar silver under a lace that had once belonged to Le Brun and given her by the then King of Spain Alfonso ('s father I think). After the ceremony there was champagne for which I had provided two silver bowls filled with ice and sugared white grapes in brandy, garnished with fresh mint and syringa, the latter an afterthought when I knew it was a wedding.

The buffet was really nice. A long refectory table [was set] with Venetian lace and Lilies of the Valley and all old pewter. A 20# cold salmon masked with tiny shrimps and with cucumber mouselline-- two gigantic turkey pies stuffed eggs their yolks rubbed smooth with cream, garlic and nutmeg-- cream cheese with chive and celery seed, puree of fresh green peas with bacon and chives-- little hot rolls and nutbread sandwiches, black olives, etc. The first course was a consomme Belvedere, jellied and tinted a seagreen, served in crystal cups and ganished with thick sour cream, caviar and chives served with hot piroshki of creamed lobster. After that [came] the creme brulee and coffee with wedding cake provided by Farrar, who alone was in on the secret. Robert W. Chambes and his charming wife told me that they had never tasted such food and Lily and Kostelanetz sent me a sweet telegram that same night, which was nice I think-- seeing that they were on their honeymoon.

Well the next day Dick and I drove into town and got all the papers in Bedford Village. The accounts were meager and incorrect and I said I wish I were on the air today so I could tell how lovely it all really was. When I got to town my manager said-- "How is your heart?"-- I said "Why?" "You have to go on the air in a half hour. What can you talk about ?" So I went on with M.D. and talked the whole 3/4 hour to find that they had recorded it too. I was glad to be able to tell all those women what it was like and from the hundreds of letters that have come in to the station, they liked it. And that's that. Ruth and Maxwell Aley are dickering with Cosmo on a special food story by me and will bring Francis Whiting, the editor, out here one evening soon. I want to do the book over but don't have time for it and it will have to wait till Dick gets back. Things look promising on the air a little later too.

I want to go out to Michigan so desperately. My only living brother-- the one I have always loved most and who lives in Oregon is there on a visit and I'm so homesick I could curl up, I so want to see him. I must somehow.

Sunday I have to do that same dammed dessert for 75 people and also Boston Baked Beans as Mrs. Gilmour is giving a buffet at the farm but its not much of a job. Well R.H. do forgive my long silence now that you know the reason, and write me what you are doing and where.


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