Friday, November 25, 2011

Paris Revisited

The summer after I graduated from the University of Minnesota, I was an au pair (live-in-nanny) for a French family who lived near the Eiffel Tower. Each morning, after our pitite dejeuner of fresh crusty bread, creamy Montrachet goat cheese, and a bowlful of café au lait, I would walk the children to the Eiffel Tower playground. I felt flooded with awe at the fulfillment of my dream of living in France.
This spring Becky and I spent a week in Paris. One afternoon, after a picnic near the Eiffel Tower, we discovered that the playground with its little carousel is still there.  My little ones who loved that carousel would be in their forties now and probably have no memory of the American who spoke French badly but loved playing with them in the sand.
Being in Paris reminded of my second visit for the 1986 publication of Ma Soeur, Mon Amour, the French translation of Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence. My co-editor Rosemary (Curb) Keefe and I spoke at a women’s bookstore (no longer in existence) and discovered that Parisian women-loving-women regarded our lesbian-feminist zeal as rather quaint, unsophisticated, and somewhat embarrassing. Having achieved equality with men, they were past such narrow concerns. And why were we still using that old term? Lesbian was so militant! They preferred to be “discrete” about their private lives. It sounded to us as if they were still in the closet.
This time Becky and I found the GLBT Center of Paris, thanks to a delightful Lesbian Connection contact dyke. This young Portuguese woman who has lived in several countries told us that the Paris Gay Pride parade draws thousands of revelers, mostly straight people. It’s more party than political. Sonia says that French lesbians are still very . . . discrete.
Being in Paris also reminded me of two months my partner Barbara and I spent there in 1988. The Gare D’Orsay had recently been converted into the glorious Musée d'Orsay, full of light, huge open spaces, and beautiful French art. Barb and I went on the free day each week and enjoyed the sumptuous salad buffet in the chandeliered restaurant. Since the buffet is no longer offered, Becky and I split an order of soup and salmon. We felt like royalty lunching at Versailles, surrounded by mirrors and full-breasted women frolicking amidst clouds on the ceiling.
After this fourth visit, much as I love Paris, I don’t long for my magical city any more. My French dreams have been fulfilled by stolling hand-in-hand along the Seine with my beloved wife, exploring Notre Dame together, and walking the magical labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral with her.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Edith Bohan, 1914-2011

Edith Jean Bohan, 97, died November 2, 2011, at Luther Memorial Home in Madelia. The daughter of John and Ida Norton of Frost, Minnesota, she was born February 19, 1914, and was baptized and confirmed at Bethany Lutheran Church. Her parents were both immigrants from Norway and, consequently, Edith spoke only Norwegian until she began school. After graduating in 1928 from Frost High School, where she won prizes for track events, bread baking, and embroidery, she attended the University of Minnesota Farm School.
(Pictured above: Mom and my sister Vicki)

To support herself during the Depression, Edith became a hairdresser in Minneapolis after graduating from Paul’s Academy of Hairdressing. She moved to Oakland, CA and worked at the salon in the prestigious Claremont Hotel. She later moved to Los Angeles, where she worked for a number of years in a Hollywood salon frequented by movie stars. In the mid-1940s Edith returned to Minneapolis, where she opened her own shop, Miss Modern, on Nicollet Avenue. Benefitting from Edith's Hollywood aura, her business thrived.
(Pictured above: Becky, Mom, Nancy)

On November 5, 1947, Edith was united in marriage to Clarence “Doc” Bohan, D.V.M., at Mount Olivet Church in Minneapolis by Reverend Rueben Youngdahl. After a winter in northern Minnesota, where Doc tested cattle, the couple moved to Madelia and made it their home for the remainder of their lives. While raising two children, she helped in the veterinary clinic, located in the basement of the family home.

Edith was an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church and Rachel Circle. She taught Sunday School for fifteen years and was a Luther Memorial Home volunteer. She served as First Lady of Madelia for the fifteen years that her husband was mayor. Edith’s hobbies included gardening, baking, quilting, and embroidering. She enjoyed traveling and twice visited relatives in Norway. After Doc retired, he and Edith often drove to Florida or the Southwestern United States during the winter.

In 1996, Edith moved into Luther Memorial Home with her husband, who passed away the following year. While diminished by a failing memory in her later years, she maintained a sweet and loving disposition.

Edith is survived by her daughter Vicki Bohan and her husband, Richard Havens, of Lincoln, CA; daughter Becky Bohan and her wife, Nancy Manahan, of Minneapolis; grandson Scott Havens of Boise, ID; and stepchildren Jack Bohan and Deanne Bohan, San Jose, CA. She was preceded in death by three sisters and four brothers.

A memorial service will be held 10:00 a.m. Friday, November 11, 2011, at Luther Memorial Home in Madelia. Memorials should be sent to the Luther Memorial Home or Trinity Lutheran Church in Madelia.