Fame is kind of death; it separates you from people... Certain dorrs were opened to Charles because of his fame ; so in many ways it gave him a life he might not otherwise have had. For almost a half-century, Anne Morrow Lindbergh has been the intimate companion of fame - first as the wife of the aviator who was caninized a hero after he was the first to fly nonstop and solo from New York to Paris, and now as his widow, who is the living symbol of that epic flight. She is gaurdian of the Lindbergh legend and the inevitable center of attention for eleborate celebration ceremonies in the United States and France on May 20 and 21.
"I have seen fame at work in Charles's life and in my life and , of course, in our life." Mrs. Lindbergh said recently in a rare interview. "There were penalities and prices that fame exacted, which were not of our choosing. But there were benefits, too - opportunities, really-that gave Charles a role in aeronautics and conservation that was ahead of his time."
Mrs. Lindbergh's reflections - and indeed her interview with me - arose from a new burst of Lindbergh fame occasioned by the 50th anniversary of his flight. this has included, in the last several months, three books - Leonard Mosley's "Lindbergh: A Biography," Walter S Ross's revised "The Last Hero" and Brendan Gill's recapitualtion of the flight in "Lindbergh Alone." There will be a special commemorative postage stamp; the Lindbergh luncheon and exhibit, and more than a score of other activities are hinged to the anniversary.
These events have engendered a sizable media buildup. "This is Charles's year," Mrs Lindbergh said, in an allusion to the attention her husband is receiving three years after his death.
The spotlight on Lindbergh's accomplishment has also renewed public interest in teh darker moments of his career - the kidnapping and murder of his first-born son in 1932, and, in the years before Pearl Harbor, his still-enigmatic role as noninterventionist, with its indertones of alleged pro-Nazism. Arecent book by Anthony Scaduto has suggested that Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was executed in 1936 for the 1932 crime, was railroaded to New Jersey's electric chair, and it assails the veracity of Lindbergh's trial testimony. The Mosley biography for its part, raised anew vexing questions about Lindbergh's associations with Nazi leaders from 1936 to 1939.
These aspects of her husband's life are not in the forefront of Mrs. Lindbergh's mind these days, for she is eager to see him portrayed in a positive fashion. Thus, even though she initially ahd some serious reservations about he flight-celebration hoopla-yet another toil of her husband's fame- she has decided to be gracious and polite about the whole thing, for she is, after all, the conservator of the Lindbergh reputation.
"It seems to me that I've spent the last six months answering requests from enthusiastic people who want me to take part in an anniversary ceremony," she told me with a certain weariness late last winter as she prepared to leave her Connecticut home for the more inaccessible island of Maui, in Hawaii. "of course, I'm touched by the outpouring of feelings for Charles, but it would be impossible for me to attend all these occasions."
Although she doesn't like making public speeches, shw wants to thank her husban's friends, who have organized dinners aroundt the country for the Charles A. Lindbergh Memorial Fund. "So I've agreed to speak at the New York dinner, and I've asked three of my children - Jon, Land and Reeve - to speak at other dinners. We are really greateful for what they are doing to carry on Charles's interests in science and conservation."
Mrs. Lindbergh is not much over five feet tall: she's lithe and vibrant. Her hair is dark brown and curly; her eyes are blue. With a visitor to her Connecticut house, she likes to sit in the southwest corner of the large, oblong living room, with its two big windows that catch the sun. The room is comfortable, lived-in, unsqueaky - like an old shoe. It bespeaks the presence of Mrs. Lindbergh and Berwick, her friendly, gregarious Cairn. Just outside are a flagstone terrace and sveral birdfeeders for chickadees, finches and sparrows. Inside, the furnishings are plain - a window seat and couches in a worn and faded blue-patterned material. On the sills are a dozen or so pots of begonias; on one wall a small Vlaminck flower painting ; on another wall, over a woodburning fireplace, a larger Vlaminick. At the far end, facing a north window, is a large, flat-topped desk with many drawers ("it belonged to my fater," Dwight Morrow, who was Ambassador to Mexico in the late 1920's) On the desk at the right is a bust of a younger Mrs. Lindbergh, sculptured by Charles Despiau, which her husband commissioned in Paris in the late 1930's.
To an outsider, on of the most apparent consequences of her husband's persisten celebrity is Mrs. Lindbergh's life style. She has three homes - an oceanside house in Maui, a chalet in Switzerland and a modest-sized house on the Connecticut shore of Long Island Sound. Her residences have one common characteristic, which is that they are concealed from a curious, and sometimes prying, public. The Connecticut house, for example, is inconspicuous, hidden by trees and foliage, and lies off a narrow road in a private preserve. There is no name on the mailbox; the telephone is unlisted.
By temperametn and by occupation, Mrs. Lindbergh has made a virtue out of what some might consider constrained living. Save with friends and very small groups, she is (and always has been) shy and reserved. Because her husband traveled so frequently in the last 25 years of his life, either as a consultant for Pan American World Airways or as a conservation enthusiast, she has become comfortable with her own company. Moreover, she is a writer, practicing the lonely craft as best, and she finds a work-in-progress to be a stimulating companion. << Return to Article Index
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