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SylDougConstanceBeach

Constance Bennett, Douglas Fairbanks & Lady Sylvia Ashley, Santa Monica 1938

Despite the relentless drought and my busy work schedule, I am loving this summer! It’s my favorite time of year: feeling the sun on my skin as it grows golden brown, wearing all my vintage sundresses, rarely wearing shoes. It has been particularly bright and balmy without the typical marine layer we experience in California. Then there are the lusciously warm evenings—a rarity here on the coast.

As a child growing up, the Fourth of July–with its splash of fireworks in a velvet sky and writing my name in the air with sparklers—was the apex of the season. I practically lived in our swimming pool from dawn to dusk, my blonde hair tinged green from the chlorine. Occasionally there were seaside trips to Will Rogers State Beach for hours of wading and beachcombing. Sometimes I would venture down to Lady Ashley’s house–two doors down from ours on Sunset Boulevard–and skim leaves from her pool with a long handled aluminum net or help her with a grown up puzzle she was working. Her skin was the whitest I’d ever seen on anybody and she rarely ventured outside without coverage of some sort.

Recently a friend posted a photograph on Facebook of a bench overlooking the ocean with the words, “If you could sit on this bench and chat for 1 hour with anyone from the past or present who would it be?” Many answered with the names of departed friends and family. Some answered with enlightened beings, like Jesus. Naturally, I answered Silky.

It’s incredibly challenging to piece together a person’s life without the benefit of their input and perspective and I so wish to tell her story accurately, to do her justice. Just one hour with her would probably answer all my questions. But instead I continue to edit my book about this phenomenal woman, hoping for her guidance–without words.