The Biltmore Santa Barbara………
(now the Four Seasons Biltmore)
In 1995, still quintessentially old Spanish luxe,
perched on the edge of the continent, at eye level with the Pacific.
Always de rigueur for cocktails, mixing locals and out-of-towners; offering a lounge with fireplace and seating to encourage conversation and conviviality.
On that Tuesday in late May, at the appointed time, under the chandelier hanging in the portal
through the entrance, down the steps into the lounge………..
………seated with Rosalyn, David and Hillary Hauser – a local journalist – drinks are ordered:
Rosalyn: Virgin Mary – amended to Marguerita — Hilary: Tequila – lots of lime — David: Scotch and soda – amended to Scotch on the rocks — Susan: Chardonnay – Sonoma
In the midst of light conversation, Rosalyn abruptly turns to me, ‘I’d like to see the pictures’, referring to my offer to bring pictures of George. As David (dutifully) engages Hilary, Rosalyn and I peruse the pictures as she relates (with much drama and gesturing with her petite hands) how she and George met, then fills in the months leading up to their marriage and his death so soon thereafter.
‘George proposed on New Year’s Eve 1963, in New York after dinner and the theatre, in Times Square as the ball dropped at midnight.’ Not feeling able to immediately give him an answer, she returned to London. ‘He followed, took a flat around the corner from my home, pledging not to leave London until he had my answer.’ They were married in September of 1964 in London. ‘I put him on a plane at Heathrow in October to return to California where he was to sell his house and find one for us’……..she later saw it………‘a pink palace up on the hill in Pasadena’. They were to have a pied-a-terre in New York and her home in London as well. ‘We planned to rendezvous in New York for Thanksgiving.’ Instead she received an early morning phone call telling her that George had died the previous day, the eighth of November 1964.
As we continue to talk of George and our family, Rosalyn asks: ‘Why don’t you come to my next concert, dahling?’ ‘I’d love to…where is it to be and when?’