Tag Archives: Carolyn

Italian “Bred”

CarolynWith CandiceGuardino

I had the great pleasure of seeing the one-woman showcase Italian Bred by Candice Guardino recently and meeting her afterward.  Amusing cameos by people “in the biz” such as comedian Mario Cantone who pop in to Candice’s various vignettes, made for some funny stuff. My favorite through line in the show, however, is Candice’s running impersonation of her family members, especially her grandmother, who was moxy personified, as only women of her time and place were and could be.

I had a similarly strong “force” of a grandmother on my paternal side, who was a pioneer indie retailer of the hot item of the 1950’s: appliances. Panasonic and Zenith were the brands that lined the walls of her store, and General Electric featured my Nonna, Lena, in their promotional materials to their sales force. She was quite cute and personified not only the moxy of the roaring 20’s generation women, but also ideal look of her era: five foot two, eyes of blue. Yep! She was a well-off retailer who designed, built and paid for her own home in cash, and a stage mother to my father to rival the likes of Gypsy Rose Lee.

She would commute in to the City with my father when he was just three years old (and BEFORE the NJ Turnpike was even built!) for his voice lessons at the Royal Associated Studios on 52nd Street and his weekly radio appearances on NBC Radio Children’s Hour with emcee Ed Herlihy, sponsored by the great but gone Horn & Hardart automat.

I don’t want to give anything away about Italian Bred so in the meantime, I’ll share an anecdote about Italian mothers. Recently, I was having lunch with mine at Cafe123 before seeing Farinelli and the King (for the second time!) We were never weight obsessed being naturally thin with fast metabolisms and we always ate well, so were talking about nutrition, etc., over our crêpes. I remarked that I didn’t think I was eating very well lately due to a hectic schedule and that maybe I was eating too much fat in my meals. I continued that maybe I should scale back on fats a little, to which my mother leaned over the table and asked me in a hushed tone, “But you’re not going to give up olive oil, right?!” As if it’s a sin! Well, to Italians, Greeks, Spaniards and probably many more Mediterranean cultures, it probably is! My reply was of course, “No, of course not, Mom!” to which she sighed a breath of relief and proceeded to further enjoy her crêpe.

And that’s my “Italian Bred” in a nutshell! (all pun because Italians—at least my Italians–are nuts for nuts, also–there was a perennially full nut bowl on our teakwood table my entire childhood, like something out of Harry Potter–but that’s a WHOLE other story for another day!)

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photo of Candice and Carolyn by B. McDonough — above photo by C. McDonough


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No trip to the Florida Keys is worth its salt without visiting the Hemingway Home, and visiting it is truly a rare treat, especially with Chris Parsons as Guide. Chris brings the home to life, with his spirited energy.

I felt I could share an anecdote from my professional life with him, so during our tour I mentioned I had once met Margaux Hemingway in the New York offices of Rizzoli Periodici, SpA where I worked as an Editorial Assistant to the US Correspondent of L’EUROPEO and was also the NY contact for ELLE ITALIA. Margaux arrived to the NY office to meet with none other than famed photographer, Helmut Newton, and I greeted her at the door. Memories of my older sister’s Cosmopolitan magazines on the floor of her bedroom with Margaux on the cover as the first “supermodel’ (which she truly was) and BABE perfume ads rushed to my mind,

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as I quelled being star struck. Margaux appeared in the dark entry corridor, and we had a lovely exchange. I didn’t know she was coming until the very last moment. Luckily I was able to handle myself accordingly. She said, “Am I in the right place..?” and I replied “Yes, please forgive the darkness and come in…” Shortly afterward, sadly, she perished, and upon hearing the news of her death, I was rocked by the vicissitudes of fame, beauty and fashion.

Chris listened to a brief summary of my anecdote on the stairway leading up to the home’s 2nd floor, with a genuine desire to hear more, so after the tour, we chatted further. He could not have been a more wonderful recipient of this story or a better guide.

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Thank you Chris Parsons, guide extraordinaire! (shown above smiling warmly as he led us through the HH dining room).

AND, no blog is a “success” without those who wait for the next blog post. So I must thank “Bella” my roommate/friend from JYA in Florence, Italy (she knows who she is) for asking me where today’s blog post was and inspiring me to write this late Friday/Saturday entry. So, I hereby present her with Hemingway’s Murano glass chandelier…

S3TransferFloridaKeysAugust2015 091 …and I must add a Post-Script: after I published this post, Bella reminded me that she SHARES her birthday WITH Ernest Hemingway! A truly MAGICAL reward posting just for her after she’d inquired where my update was that day, and for whom I fashioned this topic without recalling the shared birthday date–wowza.

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1) Carolyn with Hemingway Polydactyl Cat 2) Chris Parsons, guide extraordinaire in HH dining room with incredibly rare wood, antique Spanish table at which Hemingway dined with Cole Porter, literati, et al 3) HH dining room Murano glass chandelier 4) Hemingway Ginger Polydactyl Cat 5) Polydactly Pawprints on HH walkway 6) Hemingway’s Writing Studio (with Hemingway cat!) 7) Hemingway Pool, largest pool in Key West 

photo 1 by B. McDonough

Margaux Hemingway/Cosmopolitan photo by Francesco Scavullo

Babe by Faberge tire tube in pool print ad campaign

photos 2-7 Carolyn McDonough 2015