Growing up together in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil, the Grattons sisters, Cécile and Antoinette, and their cousin Émilie Bouchere were an inseparable trio of giggles, secrets and smiles.
Too soon, though, growing up became growing away from family, childhood friends and the simple secret pleasures of carousel pigs on a summer afternoon.
Aging calls us outdoors, after the adult indoors of work and love-life and keeping stylish, into the lovely simplicities that we thought we had outgrown as children. We come again to love the plain world, its stone and wood, its air and water.
John Updike (1932-2009), U.S. author and critic. Self-Consciousness (1989).
As a young adult, Cécile married and emigrated to the U.S. with her new husband. They lived in Brooklyn, where he began a wine importing business.
Émilie followed her cousin to the U.S. three years later. Single and hoping to pursue an arts career, she worked odd jobs and attended classes at the Art Students League of New York while living with Cécile and her husband. Antoinette also married, but she remained in France with her husband, a banker. They raised a son and a daughter.
And so the three became a duo with dear memories of their third. In Brooklyn, Cécile and her husband prospered, importing wines from France, and later from sources throughout Europe. They raised a son and two daughters. Émilie eventually moved to Manhattan, though she often visited Cécile and her family in Brooklyn. She never married, and achieved much success in theater set design.
Cécile, Émilie and Antoinette wrote to each other often. For more than forty years each affectionately shared the joys and confessions of the other two through letters. Then in 1952, widowed and alone, Antoinette came to the U.S. to live with her daughter, a photo-journalist, and her family who also lived in Brooklyn.
Well before breakfast on the morning after Antoinette’s arrival, Cécile and Émilie were at the door to welcome her. Together again, these three ladies of a certain age immediately felt themselves to be that same frolicking trio of girls from so many years ago.
Memories of those effortless times and their shared love of simple secret pleasures had them all immediately giggling and smiling. And of course, what better way to celebrate their reunion than with a carousel pig ride at Coney Island.