I well remember the first time I saw 316 Lovers Lane. The year was 1975. We were living on Ruskin Ave. in Ocean Springs and I so wanted to move. Somehow, I just never liked that house. It could have been going through Hurricane Camille in it and also it was the house where my mother died with both events bringing back anything but warm memories. Bud had done a lot of building on it though, adding the two-car carport, the huge deck and pool and bricking in all of the walks, both front and back.
My first years in Ocean Springs were not among my favorite, as I had wanted to move to California. However, this was where Michael and Greg went to school and now, looking back, I can see that the great advantages for them in growing up in a small community. They rode their bikes to school and our home was always filled with their friends. In those days Ocean Springs was an idyllic little community and I learned to love it. I taught myself how to appreciate and experience the artistic community there. Throughout these years I became fast friends with most of the crème de la crème of the artists, musicians and architects in residence.
One such man was Carroll Ishee, designer and builder of more than 30 famed tree/natural houses. 316 was one of his best; in fact, in my opinion it was his greatest. Carroll and I had become fast friends based on the attraction of the sexes. Although we were never lovers we were certainly close friends.
316, referred to as the Kraft House for the family that had build it, had been sitting vacant for three years since the Krafts moved to another region. They just couldn’t seem to sell it. Once day, as Carroll and I were lunching, he informed me that I just had to live in one of his houses. He went on about how he had my ideal in mind when he build it – yada, yada, yada. Nothing would do but that he take me for a private tour.
Loving homes the way I do I, quite naturally, accepted the invitation. We headed down Lovers Lane, the most beautiful old winding lane sided with 200 year old oaks dripping with grey Spanish moss, and I knew I was home. We stopped "a ways down" and there on the right was the largest oak of all. Directly behind it was a cement bridge, bordered by large cedar handrails leading to an enormous yellow door with glass panes on each side.
The house was entirely of cedar with only one window facing the street – that over the kitchen sink. The rest of the three storied house was entirely of cedar shake and was built into a large gulley filled with ferns and magnolia trees. The house itself was hardly visable.
We entered on the second level into a small foyer with a half bath on the left and a large closet on the right. Both had cedar shake doors, with no handles, that blended right into the surroundings. Upon entering I came to another bridge, or open hall, that ran from left to right dividing the house in two. Directly ahead, however, was a three storied glass atrium – the most beautiful room I had ever seen. Looking down over the solid railing that bordered the bridge one could see a pebbled floor below. I would later have marvelous oriental and kilm rugs there but for now it was bare.
This was the first level of the house. It looked out into a dense jungle of trees. Later my friend Jason built a splendid rear cedar terrace that covered the entire width of the house with decks and porches. The atrium divided the lower level into two separate sections. To the left were two bedrooms. Greg would have the rear one and Michael the front. To the right was a huge den with a full bath and dressing room with a triple open closet and built in cabines with many drawers.
The entire rear of the atrium at this level was covered with built in bookshelves and cabinets – I later would fill these with hundreds of my most favorite volumes. The washer and dryer was discretely hidden behind French doors underneath the stairs that came down from the entrance hall on the second level. There was an inviting porch built in conjunction with the den so that the entire area appeared as one as the den doors and walls to the outside were mate entirely of glass. Every room in the house had one wall that was totally glass, floor to ceiling, left to right, all looking out on what I would call my own personal rainforest.
Back on the second level the living room was to the right side of the bridge. The wall facing the street had a large fireplace with glass panels and ceiling to floor built-in bookcases, again with cabinets. The ceiling was cathedral and beamed with glass partitions beginning where the 7 foot outside walls stopped. These large partitions, shaped in a horizontal, elongated V met the slant of the ceiling. Again the rear wall was entirely of glass with an enormous sliding glass door opening to a huge deck set right into the top of the tree level. A virtual tree house.
To the left, upon entering was the kitchen and dinning area all open and again enclosed by a glass wall ceiling to floor. The kitchen was small but extremely compact with every conceivable appliance built in. On the far wall was another floor to ceiling bookshelf with cabinets only enclosed by cedar louvered doors so that the china, etc. would be hidden from view.
There was an enormous highly buffed 8 x 4’ wooden built in divider separating the kitchen from the dining area totally covered with drawers that opened onto the kitchen side. I eventually put a large beveled glass table with six stainless and wicker chairs in this area along with my great grandmother Clendenin’s buffet table and my Mamma’s corner cupboard.
At the far end of the dining area was a large cedar shake door, made to look like just another panel, leading to the 3rd floor master suite. The outside wall of the dining area was the perfect backdrop to one of the most beautiful weavings I would ever construct. It was seven feet in height and five feet in diameter.
The third floor master suite was heaven. High above the trees, in the tree-tops, it was entirely a view encompassing a leafy floor surrounded by sky. The suite covered almost the width of the house (up to the cathedral ceiling of the living room). It was the largest bedroom I shall ever have and by far the most romantic.
The front wall was covered with cedar louvered closets giving me more than enough space. There was also an enormous chest built-in. The rear outside wall was again entirely made of glass with a sliding glass door leading out to a small covered porch. The outside wall to the side was solid up to seven feet and then glass that extended up to beet another beamed cathedral ceiling.
The room was carpeted in soft yellow that continued across the stairway into a large dressing room with a raised settee extending over ten feet to the outside wall. Above the settee were large glass windows that extended to the ceiling and were mostly left open for cool breezes. This area opened into a beautiful bath with a cedar sunken tub that measured 6’ x 5’ with a toilet and bidet. The entire effect was one of having died and gone straight to heaven.
Bud and I were to live happily in that house for over a decade. As he had surgery every morning I had the pleasure of awakening some 3,000+ mornings in that king-sized bed, looking out into the treetops, before beginning my day. Even now all I have to do is close my eyes and I am there. I have so very many pleasant memories from this lifetime with the Lovers Lane home being among the best.
Obviously, I loved the house and had to have it. I arranged a year’s lease purchase agreement with Carroll that afternoon. I put our Ruskin Avenue home on the market that afternoon, sold it for one-third more than we had paid for it (I inherited Mamma’s skill in these matters) and had everything arranged by the time I broke the news to Bud.
He didn’t care where we lived. He just wanted for me to be happy and for harmony to prevail. He had an orthopedic meeting shortly after this in Chicago. I took advantage of this opportunity and moved – lock, stock and barrel, into 316. When he returned home it looked as if we had lived there for years. He loved it and proceeded to adapt his daily routine to the new location. It was no further than the previous house from his office and the hospital and I think he truly loved living in the clouds just as I did.
As for Michael and Greg - they loved that house. That was where they spent their junior & high school days. They had their own level, phones, cars and boats so there was no reason at all for them not to be satisfied. I have often wondered if they really realize how lucky they were to grow up in such an idealic environment – far from the norm and certainly far from their adult lives.
The house was simple in design with most of the furniture being built in. I filled it with my mother's antiques and kilm rugs though so it was really homey. We lived in that home from 1976 - 1986, when I moved to the Caribbean. Mike and Greg grew up there and I'm sure they have many stories to tell.
We also owned a home at Navarre Beach for many years. (right) This was where Mike & Greg learned to surf. We spent every Xmas there from 1975 - 1985, usually with the boy's grandparents, John & Sara. We had lots of parties here and always entertained friends.
Unfortunately, our house was totally destroyed in Hurricane Opal. The dunes were broken up and the house split down the middle. A bulldozer razed it, we sold the property and another was built there by the people that bought it - the Mathises.
I consider myself a very lucky woman to have been a mother, wife and television producer (Southern Outlook on General Electric Cablevision) during this period. Mike and Greg grew up in these homes - one of the most special times of my life.
Figaro was our white Himalayan cat - he was the dumbest cat but was so very beautiful. When he died I had him stuffed and kept him on the living room chair - this really freaked people out when they went over to pet him and he didn't move. Years later Bud sent me my microwave when I was living in St. Croix. Figaro was inside. It was the first Fed Ex delivery on our street in old Christiansted. No one even knew what a microwave was back then. All of my neighbors had gathered around to inspect it, as the box it had come in was quite large and they were all really curious. When I opened the microwave door and pulled out Figaro they really got the spooks. I was then named the local "Obi Woman" (shaman and magic woman) and never had a problem again on that island.
You take me to another world,
Ethers and light abound. Vivid colors fill my mind
and physically I drown.
The lights are green. The lights are pink.
Some fall in purest white.
Soft shadows dance and play and sing.
In rhythms I delight.
Scents of birth and then again,
the whirling love returns.
Steaming auras tease my brain
and sensually, I learn.
I listen soft, I listen still.
I hear the hearbeat low.
Resting in complete repose,
another world I know.
ON TURNING FORTY
that by the time one reaches forty
would be over
and living would begin,
caring about the precious years
A different perspective.
Can it be
That after living with someone
For twenty years
I instinctively know
what he'll say
but never understand?
Is it me -
Or is it the male mind?
Is ego really
related to success?
Do past failures
not point out the necessity
of future achievements?
Why are the main goals
of the male life
wants to acquire
laced with possession
lending power to the accomplishment?
Is a woman so "the other"
that we view goals differently?
It seems to me that the happiness
for which we are all striving
would be better attained
if male goals had less
to do with dominion
and more to do with
and other enjoyments
of the spirit!
Above - Bud and I with his mother, Sara, and her husband John Horton.
Left - Greg and I under the portrait of Jefferson Davis. A verticle portrait with Greg (in the middle) and Michael.
Below - Mary Jo Sternberg, Nancy & Mary Mahoney 1970 - at Mary Mahoney's Restaurant, Biloxi, MS
We moved to Ocean Springs, a beautiful, sleepy little town. Bud was in the Orthopedic Department at Keesler Air Force Base and the doctor's wives were my friends. We bought a split level house at 402 Ruskin Ave and moved in during July. It was as hot as hades and Greg was really ill upon arrival. He had the most acute diarrhea - everything went through him - poor little fella - he was only two and must have picked up a bug in route to the deep south. In those days there were no Pampers and our furniture had not yet arrived. As there was no washer I would wash his diapers in the downstairs toilet. We all slept on the floor in the dining room until the furniture arrived. We did have air-conditioning, so it could have been worse. I had just returned from Yale University where I watched Jimmy graduate with a MFA in architecture. I have a good picture of Mother, Jim & me at this event - J. with his cap & gown. Mom and I went to the graduation. Jim was living in Paul Rudolph's house with Frank as they had opened an art gallery there
Back in Biloxi I started Modeling for Gayfers, etc. and was featured in many newspaper clippings. I made a quick trip back to Chicago where I hooked up with
Dr. Bob Gillis, one of Bud's friends, and together we went to see my old Glenview house along with the old Glenview neighborhood. He called us later when he was in New Orleans and we met him for a lovely dinner at Victoria's Station which was located in old railroad cars that had been refurbished.
This is when I began sailing. The moment I boarded a sailing sloop I knew that I had found a hobby that I truly loved. Harvey Weiss, a good friend of ours, was leaving Keesler to go into private practice in Plastic Surgery in Atlanta. He gave me his small moth, a wooden sailing sloop that he had used while at Keesler. I just loved it and used to spend the days, while the boys were in school, sailing in the back bay of Biloxi. I took to sailing like a duck takes to water.
I also started sailing with Jimmy Kennedy & Gary Branham on Hobie Cats. I loved the freedom of a cat and bought "Super Chicken I" a Hobie 14 #337 in 1968.
1969 was Woodstock and the end of an era. I FINALLY stopped protesting the war and took up civil rights from the time I moved to Mississippi until the time I left. The music changed then also. Bud and I found ourselves in suburbia - he loved it.
Bud built swimming pool, deck and carport onto our home just months before
Hurricane Camille devestated the coast on August 17, 1969. I was in Baltimore doing Romper Room at the time and just played hell getting home as all of the airports were closed, etc.
I finally met Bud's mother, Sara, and we drove from Atlanta to Ocean Springs. There had been massive damage to our house, pool and street with friends, such as Mrs. Davis totally losing her lovely home in Gulf Hills - along with hundreds of others. It was a terrible hurricane with 250 people losing their lives.
In 1969 I started a Romper Room program for the south. Mike & Greg were enrolled at Holy Angles for several years while I worked during the mornings. RR was on air for an hour in the mornings, live. They absolutely hated the nuns who must have sensed, even then, that I really had/ a problem with Catholics and their militant beliefs - remember the crusades and the Inquisition?
Because of my negative experiences with organized religion, I raised the boys with "new age" philosophy all of their lives. The outdoors is our church and the sea is one of our great teachers. Odd that the first mothers of each of their children were born Catholic. Another irony of life.
I become great friends with Mary Mahoney and Mary Joe Steinberg owner of the Purple Lantern. We had lunch together every day with the Rat Pack - Joe Creel, DJ Venus, Tommy Kennedy - in Rueben's room at Mahoney's Restaurant. Did we ever have fun. Friends Suzanne Bell and Paulina Taquino would often join us and we would stay long after everyone else had left.
I was featured in a very nice article in Coast Magazine - quite a spread. Lots of pictures - Michael, Greg, Jodie and Yum-Yum.
Mother moved to Greensboro to live in a condo near her sister Sue, I helped her move, which I thought was a big mistake as she still cries all of the time. Mother was just not prepared for a life without Daddy. She lived in a glass bubble and just had a hard time adjusting to real life.
We visited Matt & Carol, Joe & Mimi Lawlor, friends from DPU days in Clearwater and had a great time with old memories. Also, in 1969 I was in a terrible accident at sea as I almost drowned when a 16 Hobie overturned with the Ruthie & Al Johnston during storm 3 miles out at sea. I was caught underneath the vast amount of sail area and could not surface. Had I been wearing a life jacket I would have died. But I knew that I had to swim as far as possible under water before surfacing. I came out of the water, clearing the sail area only by about 6 inches. That was a close one and the storm was still raging. We managed to get back in - somehow.
- Romper Room moved to DeBuys Rd. This was a much better studio in a brand new building. Bill Collins was my camera man and Al Todd is Mr. Music. I spent two and 1/2 years doing this and truly loved it. I wore clothes from Austin's every day and even took them on holidays. I had to pay the cleaning bill of course!
On my 30th birthday friends Jane Hamilton & Paulina Taquino give me a surprise birthday party at MY house. Everyone came dressed in black with veils covering their faces. My birthday cake was naturally large and chocolate. Bud came home early and took me out to dinner. It was a really nice day.
That summer the yacht club built a new building on front beach. The old one was too badly damaged in Hurricane Camille to be repaired. I really took up sailing and later kept my 14' Hobie Cat, SUPER CHICKEN, on the beach between the club and the Ocean Springs bridge. I continued to sail a lot in Back Bay.
Romper Room was followed by some wonderful jobs that I just loved - Southern Outlook, General Electric's first cablevision station in the South. Along with my crew and director, Auggie Taconi, we covered five states and procuced more than 700 on location interviews. We walked away with all of the AP state awards and also placed first in the nation for a series of seven interviews that I did on the Problems of Aging. Even then we were having problems with Social Security.
That summer Mike & Greg spent 6 weeks in Muncie with their grandparents, Sara & John while I went to Europe with Mother - Spain, Italy, France. We had a pretty wild trip with her sleeping her way through the continent, she was always tired, with my doing the sights and making friends. One of Dad's managers entertained us royally in Madrid. I loved Portugal and Rome and we wore out three pairs of shoes in France. It was a wonderful trip and I was so glad to be able to do it with mom.
I start making specialized paintings from "Miss Nancy" for children's rooms and sold them at the Whistle Stop with Ruth & Dave McFalls. That was really fun and a lot of people bought them. That summer I
began sailing in the summer races at the Gulfport Yacht Club with friends. I took over the Youth Sailing Program for the Ocean Springs Yacht Club. I took them to New Orleans & introduced them to Bart Jancke and Buddy Freidricks, U.S. Gold Olympic Sailors from '68 Olympics in Mexico. We had a long sailing friendship with Buddy until '80. Bud and I were his guests at Rex, Comus and The Boston Club on one of the Mardi Gras holidays. We really enjoyed ourselves. He died of in '83.
Bud started private practice on Division Street. He meets Bobby Bell and Harry Clark and they plan the Gulf Coast Hospital and Medical Center. I become best friends with their wives Suzanne & Millie. We attended an art auction at El Conquistador Hotel (very exquisite in those days) in Puerto Rico. The airport freaks us out - this is before the new one was built and was filled with animals, people and heat.
Mother has heart trouble. I go to Greensboro to help her but she is like the boy who cried wolf. Her sister Sue is ignoring her as she has wild affairs with younger men. She is in late 60's and drives a red Cadillac convertible - this affronts mother's "sensibilities" Mother's friends are very stately rich women who play bridge all day and smoke like smokestacks. Sue is even richer. Later Sue's oldest son, Christy (C.C. Fordham, Jr. M.D.) becomes chancellor of the University of North Carolina.
Mother visits Jim and Frank for Christmas in New Haven. She takes him a needlepoint vest which she has spent months making. She has "heart problems" and leaves to visit my cousin Marilyn in Alexandria.
We had a good Christmas with the kids. They are now 5 & 7 and are in school. They ride their bikes together. It is a very pleasant life.
Bud moves his practice to the Gulf Coast Community Hospital. I run the P.R. Campaign for the name. Mother has another "heart spell". I go to Greensboro where Her doctor tells me that although she does have angina most of her problems are in her head. She cries a lot.
Easter weekend Mother visits us in Ocean Springs. We had already planned to visit Joe and Mimi in Houston and ask her to stay with Mike & Greg. She says that she doesn't feel like it. I then hire a sitter to sit with her plus the boys. We go on to Houston (mother will be visiting with us for several weeks and our trip to Houston was just for four days). We are enjoying our visit with Joe and Mimi. Sat. morning we get a call that Mother is in the hospital. We fly home. She died the next day. We were all in total shock.
Somehow I allowed an autopsy and she had suffered from locked bowel syndrome. Bobby Bell stepped in and made all of the arrangements. Bud and I flew, with her body, to Greensboro for the funeral. Jimmy flew in that night. We wrote a beautiful Memorial Service for her and were amazed at all of the wonderful friends she had made in North Carolina in such a short period of time. It was a very sad time for us all.
I also decided to change jobs during this year. I left WLOX and Romper Room and went to work for General Electric Cable. They had just purchased the entire national cable network and had to produce local origination. I was hired to do a program that we entitled Southern Outlook. It was a terrific job and I loved it. I worked closely with August Taconi, a gorgeous younger technical guy who was in charge of all of the camera work and Bob DeMaria, an Italian from the Bronx who thought Southerners were from no-wheres-ville. What a trio! We had various young men and women working with us as we would go out on location to film our 30-minute segmates. I produced five 30-minute shows a week on location and also did all of the interviewing. By the time FCC rescended the cable laws in 1976, we had taped over 700 programs and had won two first place awards for the state of Mississippi and a 1st place national award. That was in 1975.
In 1976 we bought the home that will always be my favorite. Whenever I can't sleep I go through that house in my mind. I loved it so. Appropriately, it was located on Lovers Lane. The ten years that followed were some of the best of my life. Michael and Greg went through high school there and our family was never happier. I had a large loom and weaved all of the pieces in this website listed under the "art" section. It was a decade of pure joy and good times.
OUR BEACH HOUSE AT NAVARRE BEACH,
SANTA ROSA ISLAND, FLORIDA
The middle back deck
on our house on Lovers