Thursday, August 14, 2008
Julia Child's cooking show on public television, "The French Chef," was a staple of my upbringing. I had no interest in cooking, but I still thought she was hilarious and watched her with my parents for years. My father could say "a little bit of vermouth" in a scary Julia Child falsetto. If you were a faculty brat during the 1970s I can virtually guarantee you know what I'm talking about.
So with that fairly long acquaintance with Julia Child's television persona, I am not embarrassed to admit that I had no clue that she was a spy. That is so cool.
I remember watching Julia Child on TV when I was a kid too -- especially when I was home sick and there was nothing else to watch ... and after the Say-It-Play-It recorder was filled with all the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons it could fit (which was about 3 and half minutes).
I'd be so inspired by her wonderful French cooking that I'd go make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to eat as I'd watch her make the perfect boeuf Bourgogne.
Ah, the days of 5 channel television!
I have been a fan of "women in non-traditional roles" (for want of a useful label) since long before it became politically correct.
For years my heroes were Marie Curie, Grace Hopper, Hedy Lamarr, and more recently (since I only recently found out about them) the women of Bletchley Park.
I don't think that espionage counts as a non-traditional role...
Ref: Rahab the Israelite spy, Gudrun the wife of Attila, Rosamond the wife of Sicard the Lombard king, Belle Boyd the Confederate spy, the infamous Mata Hari, Soviet and East German 'swallows,' et cetera.
Julia Child and Kitty Galbraith were close friends of your Great Aunt Thales (my grandmother). They celebrated their January birthdays together at the Galbraith's every year and JKG would give each lady a corsage and then excuse himself for the afternoon.
Why would PBS have a problem with Julia Child working for the CIA? I think they'd take the position that one employee for the USA and 87 PBS employees working against the US was still a pretty good ratio.
There's a book about all the women of the OSS. Julia Childs met her husband when they were both in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, during the war. My mother in law was also one of these girls. She was in Cairo, then traveled up through Italy and ended her war in Vienna, Austria. She was single at the time and a Washington socialite so she already knew many of the men in the OSS since Wild Bill chose a large part of his recruits from that social stratum. One of her best friends who became my wife's Godmother founded a large high-end real estate business in Washington and owned Roedown Farms where the Marlboro Cup is held each year. Meanwhile her husband to be was doing his best John Wayne in the Pacific as a SeaBee Batallion Commander.
See also the OSS Society.