Daphne Moschos Gilliam Fraenkel and Michael Fraenkel.
Soon after my marriage in the fall of 1947, my parents moved back to Indiana from Los Angeles; that is when they met Onya LaTour, a patroness/collector of the arts and an avenger of the modern movement throughout ultra-conservative Indiana.
Onya was considered outside the "norm" by the Brown County, Indiana artists' colony where unfettered creativity was shunned and pseudo-impressionistic autumn color paintings were the vogue and still are.
Onya was thought to be a "scarlet woman" because of the way she dressed (long before anyone ever heard of hippies); there were rumors about her romantic liaisons and possible marriages and that she once lived in Paris and had posed as a nude model.
During the time my family lived in Los Angeles (1933-1947) my father had studied with Herman Sachs at the Hollywood Art Students League. My Dad became passionately converted to modern painting when one afternoon the League was entertained at the home of Walter and Louise Arensberg in Beverly Hills. It was there that my father saw Marcel Duchamp's "Nude Descending a Staircase" and other great works of modern art. The Art collection of the late Arensbergs is now housed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
When Onya heard that a modern painter, Norman Vincent Ulery, had moved to Brown County, she was excited to get acquainted. They became devoted friends. It was Onya, who for obvious reasons, insisted my father sign his paintings with his middle name, Vincent.
It was through Onya that my parents became friends with Michael Fraenkel and Daphne Moschos Gillam. From 1947 to both Onya and my father's deaths in 1976 that friendship grew to include not only my parents: Norman Vincent and Gertrude Ulery; but also Karl Martz, Indiana University Professor of Fine Arts, and his wife, Becky Brown Martz. This small group occasionally met at the Fraenkel/Gillam farmhouse in rural Unionville, Indiana, near Bloomington the site of Indiana University.
I wish I could have overheard the conversations those nights between Michael and my father, a self-taught painter/artist and knowledgeable observer of Fine Art, religion, philosophy and politics. Michael could not understand why my parents politely refused wine. My father had stopped drinking years before after a spiritual experience.
When Onya's diaries became available for research, I wanted to find out what she might have written about my parents, and maybe my husband, John and I. Onya's diaries date back to the 1930s but the early diaries contain only dates for luncheons and daily appointments, no details. Onya continued to make entries until her death. Fler diaries are housed in the Indianapolis Museum of Art Archives along with her modern art collection, which include two paintings by my father.
At the beginning of my search I was not thinking about Michael or Daphne. I had never met Daphne but was once introduced to Michael at my parents' home in Nashville, Indiana. I said the usual "glad to meet you," left in a hurry and had no idea who he was.
As I read Onya's diaries my curiosity peaked about Daphne. I knew that she was so disliked (hated) by Henry Miller and maligned by others who resented her zealous protection of Michael. My mother, who had only finished the 8th grade and was an ardent Evangelical Christian, had previously told me how gracious Daphne had been to her. The two of them picked salad greens by flashlight from Daphne's garden, sometimes at midnight, before Daphne prepared 3 a.m. suppers. My personal feeling is that my mother and Daphne understood each other. They were each devoted to men they believed to be geniuses ... whom others, with less talent, resented. The bits and pieces in the diaries, along with my mother's feelings about Daphne, made me want to get a more personal glimpse of Daphne.
Onya La Tour was influential in helping Daphne acquire a position at Indiana University. University Archives was only able to find a brief mention of a Daphne Moschos Gillam, as a teaching fellow in the Fine Arts Department from February 1948 to June 1949. There is no record of what subject she taught. Daphne later contributed many of Michael's books and writings to the Indiana University Lilly Library of rare books and manuscripts.
Onya's diaries give sketchy impressions of the local events Onya and the Fraenkels shared in rural Indiana daily life, but the diaries indicate a strong emotional connection. Time, dates and places, in the diaries do not always coincide. The great surprise for me was to find that my father had a very personal part in one of the major changes to come in Daphne and Michael's future.
Page from Onya LaTour's diary with hand written notation regarding Henry Miller.
Daphne and Michael per Onya La Tour 1947-1952
2/27/47: "Michael Franklin (Fraenkel) sent me: 'Day Face and Night Face/ It is such a nice gift and Michael is so poor. I shall send him money for it; he must be suffering from cold in NY." Onya had a tendency to misspell or write illegibly.
(No indication in diaries as to when in 1947 Michael and or Daphne arrived in Indiana)
8/28/47: "Michael has skin irritation on his foot and arm and it looks ominous. Rocky Mt. Fever is in every county of Indiana so I hope it is nothing like that."
8/30/47: "Took Michael to see old Doc Tilton."
8/31/47: "Michael is in bed--better today--Just skin irritation!"
9/2/47: Onya has addresses for Daphne in Calle, Monterey, and Mexico City.
Unfortunately, the 1948 diary is missing from the collection but Indiana University Archives indicate that Daphne was employed at Indiana University by February 1948.
2/15/49: "Michael and Daphne are working alone on their little house and have quite a bit done. Michael does not look well. They have bad transportation problems. I am going next week to help them." (They didn't own a car and there was infrequent bus service to Bloomington).
3/6/49: Onya mentions Vincent and Gertrude. He (Vincent) gave her a painting. Day or so later Onya sent Ulery $5.
3/19/49: "Spent night at the IU Union Conference Center residency with Michael and Daphne. They have worked so hard on their little house for nearly a year and are nearly finished. Michael is disgusted with being so isolated; their house is in a terrible spot to get to."
3/28/49: "Daphne thinks she will be let off from IU."
4/8/49: "Daphne's birthday. Michael and Daphne & I may go on a picnic."
5/23/49: "Michael has built an attic balcony seems (to be) his sanctuary."
7/17/49: "Took Vincent and Gert (my parents) to Michael's to meet the Gutkins." (Dr. Eric Gutkind, German Philosopher, Poet, Mystic, Visionary, Scientist. Gutkind sent his manuscript," Choose Life: the Biblical Call to Revolt" to Einstein and Einstein's reply now known as: "The Body of God" letter auctioned in 2012 for over $3,000,000 to an unknown buyer.) "Daphne and Michael have done wonders with their house and the yard is looking beautiful."
8/8/49: "Michael and Daphne's little house is almost completed. The Gutkins have left for NY."
11/12/49: Onya drives out with the Ulery's and Martz's: "Daphne and Michael have created a lovely home from the 100 year old school house."
2/11/50: "Out to dinner with Michael and Daphne and Dr. and Mrs. Alfred C. Kinsey." Kinsey founded the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University.
2/19/50: "Margaret Craft, her handsome husband, Craig, who is head Librarian at I.U. and I went out to Daphne's ... it was a beautiful drive, patches of snow, red winter sun, the brown earth. Their lovely little house that they have molded--and with their own hands. The atmosphere was enchanting. They live on a plane of life that I can understand. I adore them and their goodness."
Daphne Moschos Gillam and her dog, Chico, 1950
3/17/50: "Bloomington (is trying) to buy their home to use as State property. Daphne was quite upset."
4/11/50: "Michael in Chicago."
4/13/50: "Drove to Daphne's. Snow on the ground. Daphne opened a can of Salmon; gave me salmon and eggs for supper--Hot dog and some kraut. All of these things I detest ... anyway I ate them."
8/10/50: "Drove over to Unionville to see Daphne and Harold Morse. (He will teach at Teacher's College extension on 23rd, New York.) Michael busy finishing an important work he would not drive back to Brown County with Daphne and Harold."
9/3/50: "Morse in London with Michael and Daphne."
10/16/50: "Michael is staying with Harry Henschkowitz in Paris." (More than likely Onya meant Harry Herschkowitz.)
11/31/50: "Took Daphne to Halloween party." Daphne was in Unionville alone.
12/5/50: "Drove out (Unionville) took her to Nashville where she is having Florence Bradley (attorney) try to get a divorce for her from Australian husband; we came back to Bloomington." Daphne stayed overnight in Onya's room. Onya was temporarily working as a Sorority house mother.
12/9/50: "Daphne signs papers divorcing Aussie husband--so she will be free to marry Michael."
1/10/51: "Letter came from Michael complains about how cold is Paris this winter. He now speaks of California or Paris." (Probably where he thinks he might move in the future.)
1/28/51: "Looking at Unionville farmhouse. Rainy. Can't help wondering what had happened to Daphne, I wrote to her no answer. I went out and she was nowhere to be found ... even the dog, Chico, is gone. Her divorce should come up next month and I am to go with her."
2/1/51: "Letter from Daphne from Unionville, feels better Michael is coming Friday. He's been in England."
3/6/51: "Daphne came at 11, the Martz about the same time. We all met at the courthouse in Bloomington around 1:30. Vincent Ulery, (my father) who is another witness for Daphne divorce case joined us ... we chatted until the case came up. Judge convinced at once so divorce soon given. Michael arrived at 3 we all went out to lunch. Michael was picked up earlier at Indy railroad station; he was returning from England."
3/11/51: "Came by Michael and Daphne's, they seemed unhappy and a tension between them. I do not know what Michael told Emanuel Glicenstein Romano (Painter and Poet, 1897-1984) when they went there for supper, it had a very bad influence because Romano wrote a very unhappy letter--has hardly written anything since. Something has happened, love does not end in such a cruel way--yet Daphne has given years of devotion to Michael and mostly she gets criticisms, too sad, too really sordid."
4/30/51: "Michael and Daphne still at Unionville."
5/11/51: "Daphne & Michael came in, they seemed unhappy; they are trying to sell their home near Unionville. Michael spoke of he and Daphne getting married. Daphne has a strange disposition; she seems to hate practically everyone and values her own opinions above everyone ... but Michael. Michael is also extremely opinionated but one can reason and talk to Michael where one cannot reason with Daphne."
6/9/51: "Drove out to see Michael and Daphne, they are still anxious to leave Indiana. Michael even spoke of going alone to Europe and leaving Daphne. How could he?"
7/10/51: "Michael and Daphne still in Unionville."
8/16/51: "Michael and Daphne stayed today (at Onya's) and are staying tonight. We had a nice day; had lunch at the Nashville House. They are both so unhappy in Indiana ... they are in utter despair."
11/20/51: "I got home. A note from Michael. I was so upset that I did not get it earlier in the day so I could have gone there tonight as he wanted me to. I will miss him and Daphne terrible, they were the only bit of worldyness (Onya'spelling) near me besides that they are dear loveable friends and I am so fond of them."
11/24/51: "Perhaps the last night of my life that I shall spend in Unionville as Michael and Daphne sold the house. I can help get their books moved to Indianapolis."
12/8/51: "Michael and Daphne visiting me here in Indy (Onya was working in the city.) We are all camping in my apartment until they decide whether to go to Paris, Mexico, California or South America."
12/10/51-12/23/51: Michael and Daphne continue living with Onya.
12/11:51: The three drove from Indianapolis to Nashville to view the progress on the construction for Onya's new home on a high hillside that overlooked the Brown County State Park. The house would be named: "Spellbound House."
12/27/51: Michael and Daphne move to a 'nice room' with a Jeanie Snyder. "So now we can all get some rest."
12/30/51: "Went to see Fraenkel's. They are planning to go to Chicago. Such unrest. Michael was walking the floor they think everyone in the world is terrible but themselves. Such criticism about Indiana, the people, America, their friends. You are only their friend if they feel a need of you, can use you, etc. In spite of all this, I like them and feel sorry for Daphne, waiting on Michael every second, such a slave."
1/10/52: "Letter came from Michael complaining again how cold it is in Paris this winter."
Early 1953 diary gives reference to social visits with Daphne in New York City. No other details and no mention of Michael.
1/29/54: Daphne residing at: 96 Brook Green, Hammermitt, W6, London
Exploring the diaries became a personal awakening for me. From the diaries I found out that my father was a witness for Daphne in obtaining her divorce from her Australian husband. After the Fraenkels left Indiana there were warm personal notes between the Fraenkels and the Ulerys so I'll sum up with the inscription written in a 1959 gift of the book: "My Friend Henry Miller" by Alfred Perles to my parents from Onya: "For Norman and Gertrude Ulery in memory of Michael Fraenkel and because we all loved his beautiful Daphne."
(1) The editors wish to thank the Indianapolis Museum of Art for permission to publish excerpts from these diaries.
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|Title Annotation:||Bits and pieces from my parents' remembrances and the Onya LaTour diaries at the Indianapolis, Indiana Museum of Art|
|Author:||MacLeod, Normajean "Ulery"|
|Publication:||Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2016|
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