Thursday, March 11, 2010

Way Back When - How I got to Newport

This was my first post ever posted back in July of last year, but posts get buried, and I thought you guys might enjoy this story, since it will provide good background for ones to come!

It all started on an island called Sanibel at dawn, on the first day of Spring. If you like sea shell collecting, this is a great place to go. My Dad somehow convinced my Mom (his girlfriend at the time) and his colleague, Yusha Auchincloss, to get up at dawn so they could get the best shells. Barefoot and sandy, my father, John Atwater Bradley, proposed to AND married my mother, Marilyn Monteith Bower that day. Yusha (above in 2008 with Me) was the Best Man and became my Godfather.

Mind you, I am skipping A LOT on how this event came to happen....from my Dad spending the previous night in Jail, getting a last minute marriage license, not to mention finding a minister to perform the ceremony at dawn. But that is a story for another day. So we'll move on.

Why Newport? Well, with Yusha as extended family, we made annual summer trips to Hammersmith Farm in Newport, RI.This Pic is of my brother, David in front of the "Big House" at Hammersmith in the '70's

David Bradley, Jamie Auchinlcoss and Yusha Auchincloss: Windmill at Hammersmith Farm in background. 1970's

I didn't really understand the significance of Hammersmith Farm growing up, nor did I understand why buses and ferries full of tourists flailing cameras would pull up to the dock on a regular schedule. I do know now, and in case you don't, Hammersmith Farm was the Summer White House during the Kennedy Years from 1961-1963. Built in 1887, for John W. Auchincloss on Newport's oldest working farm, Hammersmith, was the summer residence for the Auchlincloss family for 4 generations. Jackie Bouvier's mom, Janet Lee, married Hugh D. Auchincloss after divorcing Blackjack Bouvier who took to the bottle after the market crashed (or so I was told).
1945, Newport. Jackie top left, Yusha top right, Janet Auchincloss in Lee's arms.

Here is where it gets cute. Yusha, a young boy then, attending Groton School, was SO very excited about Jackie becoming part of the family. He remembers thinking she could be possible girlfriend material...not really understanding that they were 'related' now that their parents were married. Love it Yusha. And you had good taste Yusha, Jackie sure was cute.

There was always a week or so growing up that my Dad, me, the bird and whatever dogs we had would make the pilgrimage to Newport for the 'social' part of our summer. This time for me was TRULY vacation. And I say 'social' because the rest of my summer was spent in the Gunks, at our place called the Awosting Reserve.
At Awosting, I slept outside every night, took baths in the stream, and had rigourous daily lessons and activities taught by my English Au Pair. Math skills never improved, I HATED swim time in our fresh water black bottomed pool, and washing my hair with the crayfish biting my toes was not normal.



The black bottomed pool...


Stream Baths with the Crayfish

So IMAGINE how excited I was to go to Newport where I got to put on pretty dresses, took a bath in a bath, got to sleep inside, and had going to the Beach and Cocktail parties on my schedule for the day. H E A V E N. My room was the top floor of the Windmill overlooking Narragansett bay. Mmmmmmm.

OK...might have chopped off the top floor, but you get the picture. It was a big change from my mountain top mattress beneath the stars.

And then came dress up. Newport meant no hiking boots, no sneakers. It meant party shoes and party skirts. It meant counting blades of grass instead of cutting and raking them. I loved Newport.

Hammersmith Farm, Windmill for Yusha's Birthday
Me(in a dress!), Dad, and Pyrma and John Pell

My passion for dress making certainly had a few of it's origins in this beachy leisure town...

And that's the story of how I got to Newport.


Yusha Auchinloss and Me: Awosting Reserve, circa 1982

-Still Wear my Dresses that Short, Bradley

8 comments:

  1. Newport is such a fabulous place and you look adorable in those pictures! Susan

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  2. As Susan said, adorable. And a great story!

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  3. Dear CK, I visited Hammersmith Farm with my best friend who must be your cousin. Her name was Maya Auchincloss and we went to school together. We were best friends for 3rd and 4th grade. I think of my time there with great fondness. We stayed in "The Yellow House," and she took me to hang out in "The Windmill." There was a bouncy kind-of swing chair that I think hung from the ceiling in the Windmill on the top floor. I also remember we visited the big house, and there was an elevator that went from the first floor to the second floor, and you opened a hinge in the railing of the staircase to open the elevator, which was like a kind of metal cage. I miss Maya, and wish I could find her again.

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    1. Maya is still in Newport and at the 'Yellow House' all the time to visit Yusha, her dad. Facebook me - and I can get you guys in touch again!

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  4. Enjoyed the story and pics CK..such a fun and interesting life you have. Kathleen (from post on FB about your Dad)

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  5. What a Beautiful Lady !!! Absolutely Stunning !!!

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  6. I live in the Bahamas, but went to Portsmouth Abbey School in Middletown over 20 years ago. I used to love to eat at the White Horse Tavern. I wondered if you ever came down and stayed in Lyford Cay?

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    1. I have stayed in Lyford several wonderful times!

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