Jennie, Again

grandcanyonladies

Marie, Jennie, Norma, and Pauline (squatting) at the Grand Canyon, 1946

Those years I worked on the book about my grandmother’s cross-country road trip, I thought I knew what I was doing. I had found the story my writer self had been waiting for, the story of women and travel and legacy, of America in two different generations, of the pull between home and away. I researched and planned and dragged myself and some friends over 7,500 miles of the country because I thought I knew what I was doing. I was writing a book. Almost a decade later, there is no book. But there is today’s phone call with Marie Spino’s grandniece, who discovered something of her aunt in the blog I kept about the trip. A few  years ago it was Norma Fontanella’s grandniece I was talking to. These women who didn’t have children are still fascinating to the women who came after them, just as my grandmother is still fascinating to me. And after the phone call in which I found out about Marie’s impeccable home, her frankness, her years at the Fairfield Dress Company and ultimate return home with just a suitcase, I realized I may not have been writing a book after all. I may have been creating the space for women today to connect to women then, women who were ahead of their time. Maybe that is all, and maybe enough.

May 22, 2015

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