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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Dr Shain

On the road in Stockbridge is a pretty house with a sign saying "Guesthouse." I could swear that I was taken there (perhaps with my younger brother) to play with Dr. Shain's granddaughters. I need to find out if Dr Shain did, indeed, own that house at some time.

My great-aunt was widowed in her late 40s (1948). Her husband had been an eminent musician, and my mother, whose family lived with Vicky and Fritzi, occasionally mentioned names that are familiar even today: Leonard Bernstein ("I saw him being made," said my mother), Serge Koussevitsky. When Vicky died, Fritzi lost much of her social standing and social circle.

She was a beautiful woman and--though I don't remember this--an excellent cook. Viennese cooking is very refined, so this is probably true. I have an old Dionne Lucas cookbook with her name in it.

Every now and then, my mother would say "My aunt had an affair with Dr. Shain." Once she added, "when his wife was in a wheelchair."

Fritzi had many guests at her cottage, some for meals, some overnight, and occasionally some paying. She had a long widowhood and even Vicky's generous life insurance proceeds didn't last. 

I have the guestbook from the cottage. In it is this poem. I will scan and post the page at a future date.

1950

A lovely lady by good fortune met me
whose popularity is so great we all must agree
Like a magnet, her charm which she doth possess
Draws everyone to her whether in cheer or distress.

It is Fritzi this or Fritzi that, is all you hear
And to each and everyone she brings joy and cheer.
Here is wishing you all a Very Happy New Year.
With the hope all of us next spring in good health return here.

Arthur I Shain

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