delanceyplace.com 4/30/09 - julie andrews
In today's encore excerpt - Julie Andrews known to the world for her star turns in My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music is left by her mother at the age of five:
"[My father Ted Wells] became a full-time teacher at age twenty-four on Boxing Day, December 26, 1932. On the very same day, at St. Peter's Church in Hersham, he and my mother [Barbara] were married. My mother once told me that Granny Julia had said to her on her deathbed, 'Whatever you do, don't marry Ted Wells.' It was probably because he was so very poor. ...
"Someone once asked me which parent I hated the most. It was a provocative question and an interesting one, because it suddenly became apparent to me which one I loved with all my being ... and that was my father. My mother was terribly important to me and I know how much I yearned for her in my youth, but I don't think I truly trusted her. ... My mother started going away for periods of time, working more regularly [to supplement our income], mostly playing at concert parties. ... In the summer of 1939, Mum played a series of concert parties for the Dazzle Company in the seaside town of Bognor Regis. It was there she became an accompanist for a young Canadian tenor by the name of Ted Andrews, who had just arrived in England. ... That September, World War II broke out. ...
"My mother was now often away performing with Ted Andrews. ... [My brother] Johnny and I remained with Dad and Aunt Joan. Early in 1940, my mother signed on for ENSA ... an organization set up to provide recreation for British armed forces personnel during the war. She went off with Ted to entertain troops in France. There were two children at home who needed her, but I think the compulsion to go with Ted was overwhelming. One particular day before she left is seared upon my memory.
"Mum took me out for a walk, which was unusual since she never had time to take walks with me. We strolled through the village hand in hand, past the shops -- and I saw a child's dress in a window. It was over-the-top, fluffy and pink, but I thought it was the prettiest I had ever seen. A day or so later, I came home from some outing, and as I entered the house, I realized it was empty, and that she had gone. She had not said good-bye. Though she had been away before, I sensed the way children can that she was not coming back.
"Feeling terribly sad, I went upstairs to my bedroom and discovered the fluffy pink dress spread out on the bed with a note. Nothing special -- just 'With love from Mummy' or some such thing. My heart full to bursting, I ached for her, loved her, missed her, knew that she had thought of me as she left -- and I wept."
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