July 13, 2012 · 0 Comments
From Eugene Schulman:
To the editor:
International Herald Tribune
I found Ralph Blumenthal’s article (Medieval French Village Echoes with the Voice of Kennedy’s Camelot, IHT, July 12, 2002) of interest. Here is my version of the museum when I visited it some years ago. Perhaps it has changed since then.
Nicole Salinger wasn’t at home the day my wife and I visited Le Bastide Rose at Le Thor. We often spend time at Isle sur Sorgue, a charming village in the Provence, staying with friends nearby as we make our way down to the Côte d’Azur every year in September. Le Thor is only about ten kilometers away. I didn’t know Salinger had lived there until one day about five years ago I read of an exhibition of art works by Nicki de St. Fall being held in the gardens of Le Bastide Rose. I had known Salinger fairly well in Los Angeles when he was running for senator. I had donated to his campaign and dined with him more than once. It was much later that I caught up with him again. He had become president of a real estate trust company in the UK, and I was working for a mutual fund investment company/bank in Geneva. We would meet from time to time when he visited Geneva, or I London. Later when those dubious companies collapsed and we each went on to other things, we lost touch with each other, and I heard nothing more about him until his infamous conspiracy theory about that plane crash ruined his reputation.
Anyhow, as my wife and I visited the exhibition, we discovered that the place was owned by Salinger’s widow, and that she had created a museum on the premises devoted to his memory. Ralph Blumenthal describes the contents accurately, but fails to describe the dusty conditions in which it is housed. The museum is essentially a garage, filled with tables covered with memorabilia, and press photos of Salinger with Kennedy pinned to the otherwise bare walls. Many of those photos were taken by my friend Jacques Lowe, who had been Kennedy’s official photographer. The overall impression was that of a dreary mausoleum dedicated morbidly for self attention via association with a once quasi-famous personality. I found it embarrassing.
Fortunately, de St. Fall’s colorful sculptures were there to brighten things up, outside in the sunny gardens.