In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines…Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans
The Carlyle boasts an impressive guest list, including presidents, royalty and celebrities. During the Kennedy administration, a suite of rooms was kept available incase the President was visiting New York. Interesting, but the reason I was looking forward to staying at the hotel, during a business trip, had nothing to do with its famous visitors.
Hidden in a corner on the ground floor of the Carlyle is a small bar, called Bemelmans. Named for Ludwig Bemelmans, the author of the Madeline books, it was what generated my enthusiasm for staying at the hotel. Bemelmans drawings of Central Park cover the walls of the bar. His only public commission, he painted it to pay a hotel bill. Whatever the cost, the Carlyle ended up with a priceless piece of art, well worth the cost of an extended stay for Bemelmans and his family at the hotel.
I took a photo of the mural, in between meetings, while having a drink with friends. Dragging myself away from the artwork was difficult. For as long as I can remember I have been in love with the Madeline books. I have often given the them as gifts and two of the books are sitting on my bookshelf. First published in 1939, they have endured the test of time. Whatever life throws at Madeline, she meets it and survives with resilience. Life in an orphanage, a ruptured appendix, facing mice or a tiger at the zoo, she faces challenges bravely and moves on. Not a bad role model for those of any age. She is still my heroine.
In another thought about bravery and resilience. While visiting, last week, my 82 year old friend went for a ride in a glider. Once again proving that age is just a number.