"Gargoyles & Graffiti"chronicles architectural elements that I find interesting or unique in my travels. Gargoyles are my passion, but today graffiti (which I hate but am learning to love as it is everywhere) is as much a part of architecture as the gargoyles and decorative railings that thrill me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Eze Cemetery: Olga Platonina Dinwiddie

Gravestone of Olga Platonina Dinwiddie
First of all, I want to say that the cemetery in Eze is adjacent to the most beautiful Church, a place of peace and serenity. You can see for miles around to the mountains and to the sea. It is tucked in to a mountain side. I believe that a person could not find a more fitting place to be put to rest. 

When I decided to investigate the reason that some of the gravestones in the cemetery were in English, I would never have believed the fascinating information I would find. I picked Olga Platonina Dinwiddie as the first person to check out, as her name is so unique and she has such a beautiful granite stone. Born in 1886 in St. Petersburg, Russia, her former name was Olga Platonina Stenbock-Fermor, and she was a Countess. She was also an accomplished painter and her works are still sold today. There seems to be a mystery surrounding her life. Not much is known other than she was born in 1886 and died in 1956, according to the art dealers who sell her paintings. 

She was known to have spent a lot of time in Paris and possibly Italy. Her most famous paintings are listed as Italian 20th Century and I found two sites in England that has paintings of hers for sale. They are Wooley and Wallis and Newfield Galleries.

Since I found her gravestone and was able to investigate the genealogy of her husband, Donald Mackenzie Dinwiddie, I was able to piece together some information on her life. I found that she married in 1929 at the Brentford Registry Office in the UK. The man she married had an incredibly interesting past. His grandfather was David Dinwiddie from Penpont, Dumfrie-shires, Scotland, who spent most of his life working for the British Crown in India. His grandmother was Mary Mackenzie, who was born in India, but her family roots were from Glasgow, Scotland and Dublin, Ireland. The grandfather, David Dinwiddie, wrote his memoirs and they are incredible. If you are interested in what life was like in the 1800s in the British colony of India, click here

But the most amazing thing I found was on a genealogy site, and it was written by the nephew of Donald Dinwiddie. For the article, click here. But the gist of it is this ... Countess Olga Stenbock-Fermor fell out of a taxi in Paris in the arms of the man who would become her husband. It doesn't get more romantic than that. I never thought I would find such a wonderful fairy tale life from one grave stone! RIP, Ms. Olga!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Eze Cemetery: Mary Margaret Townsend

Peggy Davis possibly Mary Margaret Townsend
Gravestone of Mary Margaret Townsend

This was the first gravestone photo I took in the Eze Cemetery. It was so hauntingly beautiful and unique that it struck my eye. I never really focused on the dates that she was born and died, and only realized after finding out more about her that she only lived 25 years.  With a name like Mary Margaret Townsend, I assumed I would not find much information on her, but I could not have been more wrong. 

Mary Margaret Townsend was also known by her stage name, Peggy Davis. She had been a Broadway (Ziegfeld) Follies girl and first married at the age of 12. Her first two husbands were both bigamists and both marriages were annulled. She ended up on the French Riviera with her third husband and died, apparently of suicide or accident. Her car went over the embankment near Eze on one of the Cornice roads. She drank two double brandies, then wrote a quick note and drove off. There is much speculation about what actually happened that night, but it truly sounds like something out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel or even the plot of The Blind Assassin.

From one website I found, her husband said .... 

"My wife adored the Riviera. Here she desired to live, here she died, and it is fitting that she rest here forever," Mr. Townsend remarked after the funeral service. And in that grave ended the remarkable career of a stage butterfly, who, at the age of 25, had lived more than most women of 75.

More information about the life of Mary Margaret Townsend can be found here

Another exert from the same website ...

March 30, 1931
Birmingham, AL

A nine-year-old girl, whose nimble feet, and soprano voice attracted attention here in 1914, became a Broadway Follies beauty known as Peggie Davis and later the wife of David Townsend, Wall Street broker.

She was born here December 31, 1905, as Mary Margaret Laird, and in childhood she showed unusual ability in dancing and singing and won much attention.

Her father was a traveling salesman, and the family has since moved from the city.

The titan-haired beauty was married at age 13 to Colonel J. A. Davies, 43, of the ordinance department, United States Army, November 3, 1918. The marriage was annulled a year later. At the time the action was filed here she was working in the films in Los Angeles. Her complaint charged Davies had another wife in Texas.

Among the pictures in which she appeared was "Under Two Flags” with Theda Bara.

I also found a notice about her death in a 1931 newspaper from Florence, Alabama. Mary Margaret Laird (her maiden name) was born in Birmingham, Alabama, according to this newspaper account. Click here to read the full article.

I wonder now what drew me to these particular graves. This was definitely a sadder tale than the first. RIP, Mary Margaret!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Holland America: Towel Animals

Flying pig?

There are so many wonderful things about sailing with Holland America. I know from the cruise critic board, that HAL is not for everybody but it is for me. I like that the crowd is older and there aren't many children. I like that we turn in early. I don't go to the discos or shows anyway after being so tuckered out from the day tours. I love the art and the gorgeous flower arrangements. I love the tradition and the creative furniture. I love the cabin stewards from the Philippines and Indonesia that are so nice and normally have been on HAL ships for a long time. They know the ship and are well-trained.


One thing I really love that the stewards do is make those great towel animals. They tend to match the towel animal to my mood. If I am grumpy and tired, they might make me a scorpion. If I am playful and happy, I get a monkey hanging in my room when I come back from dinner. 

Definitely a monkey
I am not quite sure what the first towel animal in this post is. Does anybody know? Maybe a flying pig?