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Memories of Pat and Paul

Though I only knew Pat and Paul for a short amount of time, the impact they’ve had on my life has been profound. Finding the Herbert family – who for so long had been a mysterious part of Gerry, Amy and my family tree – has been amazing.Image

Meeting Pat and Paul in January 2010 for the first time, along with other members of the family, was a homecoming for us. Pat’s reaction to our first contact was an unexpected delight: like we already belonged to the Herbert family. She quickly planned a first gathering that not only drew the Berkeley posse but others much further away, including Uncle Paul. That day is one of my richest family memories and will never fade.Image

In a strange coincidence, Matt and I moved from London to the Bay Area just before our first meeting. Or maybe there is a bigger story at play than we are really aware of! When we moved we were lucky enough to have Gerry, just down the road (met only 10 years earlier), but knew very few other people. And suddenly… we had a family.

We’ve since spent happy Thanksgivings together, attended weddings, and been included in parties and backyard picnics. One of the most amazing things about meeting this family is how much of an affinity we’ve always felt. Trading New York Times articles with Pat via email and meeting for lunch and talking about politics are among my favorite memories.

Being able to meet Pat and Paul while they were still with us was incredible. Their warm embrace, pulling us into your family, has been a gift. I knew them only a short time but miss them and am forever grateful.

Beth Menz


Yorba Linda Memories

Between the ages of about eleven and fourteen, I made annual trips down to Yorba Linda, in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, to visit my cousins, the Herberts. Several times I rode the Greyhound bus down there by myself, and remember the dusty heat of Bakersfield, the redolent smell of the cows in Coalinga, and the hours and hours riding down Highway 5 in the summer sun.

Uncle Paul and Aunt Faith lived in what I thought was the most exotic of places, this Shangri-La with grass and swimming pools everywhere. The best part was that Disneyland was perhaps a dozen miles away. My cousin John was a year or two older than me, and he would take the lead on our forays to Disneyland. I recall one summer evening, sitting by the rocketship rides, listening to a rock band called El Chicano. I was very impressed at him for talking to this girl, I think her name was Vera Viss, or Vicki Voss, or something exotic like that. He said she was “a bitchin-ass chick.” I do not think the relationship developed much farther, though.

We had some fun at the family reunions as well, John and I. I am not sure what year it was — maybe I was 14 years old. A bunch of the girls were sleeping in Martha’s room, on the second floor of the house on Fulton Street. There was a sort of trellis structure next to her bedroom. Early in the afternoon, when everyone was outside or elsewhere, John and I climbed up on the trellis and reached in the window. We tied a string to the pull down shade, and dangled it out the window. Then we waited. After dinner, after dark, we waited outside, our ears cocked to hear what was happening within that boudoir. When we thought the time was ripe we seized that string and began yanking on it, causing the shade to shake and rattle and rise up. The screams that came from within that room were strangely satisfying.


LOTS of Photos from Gerry Ryan

Gerry Ryan has created a wonderful archive of family photos, scanning old albums. He sent them along with this note:

I was thinking of adding links to scanned photos, reunion pictures and my visit to West Mystic, Connecticut with Uncle Hugh. Nancy and Aunt Pat visited Debbie and I a couple of weeks after our first meeting at the Union-Reunion and brought Nora’s and Nancy’s photo albums. I was able to get correct descriptions of the photos by emailing groups of them to Aunt Pat and she would email back the descriptions.
Here are the links:
To see the captions, on the top right of the screen, click on the down arrow and click on ‘Slideshow’.

Memories of Pat

By Faith Herbert

Paul, the kids and I had great times in Berkeley with Pat and Fred and their children. The house on Fulton Street was the base for many trips to San Francisco, Cody’s Books and Telegraph Avenue. Pat always made us feel so welcome.

I remember many summers when the kids would visit in Berkeley and Pat would always have activities for them to do such as making aprons and drawing pictures on plates, which I still have and use today.  Pat sewed a personalized blanket for each of our six grandchildren – this was so typical of Pat’s kindness and thoughtfulness of others.

Paul enjoyed going to spend time with Pat particularly after Christmas when she held her annual Boxing Day party.   He especially loved talking politics with her, as she was out front on any political cause of the day.  We also appreciated all the newspaper clippings that Pat used to send us.  And, as a prolific reader, she was never at a loss to recommend a good book.

Pat leaves a wonderful and proud legacy in her children and grandchildren.

Pat and Bob in Europe

by Bob Herbert

Pat and Bob in Europe


            There were two wonderful times in the late 1980s when Pat and I traveled together in France and the Lowlands. I went to Paris one early summer week to work on the Seurat show I was preparing for Paris and New York in 1991. Loving art and France, Pat joined me after I had a few days of business meetings and library work in Paris. We stayed in the Hotel des Deux Continents on the rue Jacob, near St. Germain des Près, where Pat and Fred had stayed in 1952 when visiting me from London, during my Fulbright year. Fi and I had stayed there also, in 1955, and on subsequent visits, so we came to know the Chresteil sisters who owned and managed the hotel. One of the maiden sisters had since died, but the other treated Pat and me like familiar old-timers, and invited us for a tea at her nearby apartment.

            After a few days together reconnoitering Paris museums, we got a rented car and headed south to a village in the Nièvre in central France where we had an extraordinary couple of days with a farming couple who owned two Seurat panels. I had learned about them from a friendly art dealer who had tried unsuccessfully to buy the pictures. When I wrote from Paris, M. and Mme. Dufour insisted upon inviting us to stay with them. We were surprised and delighted to find them living in a rather small farmhouse perched atop a hill outside a rural village. Suzanne Dufour had been given the two Seurats by an elderly Parisian couple for whom she had worked in Paris, because in 1940 she had helped them flee in advance of the Germans. She drove their rented van, stuffed with art works, to Clamecy, a late medieval town in northern Burgundy, where they had a home. While caring for them there, Suzanne met Georges Dufour who brought farm produce to the city market. They married and had two children, grown up and living in Paris when we visited the parents.

            Suzanne was very art-minded and in addition to the two Seurats, she had the house full of mostly Sunday paintings she bought in the region. She subscribed to a Parisian art review and knew full well the value of the Seurats (then about a quarter of a million each). She had prepared for us the bedrooms vacated by her two children, and you can imagine Pat’s delight at the furnishings: rustic tables, bureaus and beds covered in handsome traditional cloth, some of it embroidered. For two days Suzanne made tasty meals with the farm’s chicken, pork, vegetables, and fruit. She was loquacious and reminisced about the 1930s in Paris, and about her occasional trips to Paris to keep up with the art world. Georges was more the shy provincial farmer, terribly pleased at our visit, and eager to show us the nearby countryside as a substitute for talking.

            Pat and I returned to Paris after going to Lyon to see the textile museum––you know Pat’s love of textiles––and the fine arts museum. We had an evening in Paris with my artist friends Anne and Bertrand Dorny, whom I had known since 1968 when we all met as parents of children who went to the same school. Before we headed home, Pat had a couple of meetings with some women who were in the midst of forming a French chapter of the DES-Alert movement.

            The second trip, about a year later, also involved my work on the Seurat retrospective. Ellen d’Hoen, a Dutch friend of Pat’s, was moving to Paris (she worked for an NGO) after having set up DES in Holland. She drove us for a weekend to a “secondary residence” in northern Burgundy that she shared with her boyfriend, and expat American living in Amsterdam. They spent the time bottling wine which we all fetched from a nearby farmer-vintner. Ellen’s boyfriend had packed the car with empty bottles which we filled with a hose coming from a tank in the basement of an unkempt barn. We lightly corked the bottles for the drive home, and then on a lovely sunny afternoon we carefully wired down each of the corks. We had supper with vegetables, fruit, and cold beef bought not far away in a village market, and on Sunday, breakfast and lunch with the same kind of provisions.

            Back in Paris, I rented a car for our drive to Brussels––more Seurat work––then on to Amsterdam for a visit to the city and its museums. En route we detoured to Gouda so that Pat could admire the ceramics in the museum there and in local stores. Pat didn’t acquire any pottery then because she was travelling light, and we both resisted buying aged Gouda cheese. Ellen had told Pat that her boyfriend was a great cook of homemade pasta; they invited us to supper in Amsterdam. We arrived about 7, only to find the boyfriend (I’ve forgotten his name) beginning to crank out the pasta strips which then had to dry. At about 10.30 we finally sat down to supper to a carbonara, more than a little tipsy from glasses of the Burgundian wine that whiled away the hours. Our goal in Holland was the Kroller-Muller museum which is situated in a large nature park in Otterlo. In a very handsome building of the 1930s by the architect Henri van de Velde, there’s a magnificent collection of early modern art, including six Seurats and the largest collection of van Goghs other than those in the van Gogh museum itself. You can imagine Pat’s joy because van Gogh had been one of her passions from girlhood. The K-M didn’t lend, so my visit was devoted to close study of the Seurats that I couldn’t exhibit but needed to refer to in the catalogue. We stayed overnight nearby, and the next day we had time to walk around the K-M’s extensive park, well peopled in sculpture, including work by another of Pat’s favorites, Rodin.

            Here a short excursus: In May 1956, when Fi and I had a year of doctoral research in Paris, we had gone to the Kroller-Muller museum on our Lambretta, after a couple of days’ work in Brussels. From prior correspondence, I had an appointment with S. van Deventer, a former curator at the K-M. He and his wife were very welcoming, and introduced us to their son who had Down syndrome. They gave him a wonderful life. He had a large scrapbook with reproductions of paintings by van Gogh, and some attendant postcards that documented their trips to all of the painter’s favored sites in France and the Lowlands. He talked excitedly about each of those trips and remembered a good deal about the landscapes and how van Gogh painted them. Later, Fi and I said more than once how rare it was to have such a heart-warming encounter with an otherwise deprived young man. Van Deventer told us a charming story that evoked van Gogh’s well-known painting of the baby of the Arles postmaster Roulin. He was in Arles after the war to give a lecture on van Gogh. Afterwards as the crowd was milling around, there was a confused bustle and a large woman dressed in an over-the-hill fur coat came pushing through crying for “le docteur van Deventer.” When she came next to him, she thumped herself on her chest and cried “Me voila! Je suis le bébé Roulin” (“Here I am, I’m the Roulin baby!”).

            Of course that year with Fi in Paris was one of the best I ever had. Thirty years later, the short trips with Pat in Europe were a another grand time. Instead of traveling alone, as I usually did when pursuing my work, I twice had Pat’s stimulating company. We had lots of time to chat about art, about politics generally, and about Berkeley politics in particular. She was very proud of Martha, Anthony, Nora, and Celia, and kept me up-to-date about them, while asking about Tim, Rosie, and Cathy. I’m really glad that Tim’s conferences in California have kept up our ties with the Codys!