My Path Through the 20th Century

Kit Tremaine  

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ISBN: 0-931892-73-2, 208 pages, 5.5 x 8.5, paper, $12.95

Philanthropist, poet, race horse breeder, collector of contemporary art, and nationally infamous homeless activist ... these have been a few of Kit Tremaine's lives. She weaves her story from her life as a privileged child of a wealthy family in Louisiana through the challenges and triumphs of a socially responsible adult.


"In this charmingly unguarded and sometimes far from self-flattering account, Kit Tremaine, born rich, beautiful, and intelligent, takes us from her childhood in rural south Louisiana, to her reign as Queen of Mardi Gras at 18, to her stand against the Vietnam War, and to her role today as an innovative supporter of progressive causes. Her deeply personal philosophy embodies her spiritual experiences and sense of harmony with all living things." Katy Peake, author, poet, social activist

"Fragments exudes a grace that has influenced my life." Marianne Partridge, editor of The Santa Barbara Independent

"This book vibrates with the spiritual power of a woman living on many planes. The fragments of Kit Tremaine's life fit together in a marvelous mosaic. She meets the challenges of pain, recovers from many wounds, learns from defeats and frustrations, and in the end turns sorrow into wisdom." Frank Kelly, author, senior vice president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

"Step into Fragments by Kit Tremaine and you will enter a rarefied world of wealth and privilege, a world that can strangle or liberate. Few of us raise ourselves above our circumstances. She did. This is a story of transformation to savor and admire." Gayle Stone, novelist and editor

Table of Contents

1. The Archafalaya
2. Growing Up in New Orleans
3. Grandmothers, Grandfathers, and Uncle Harry
4. A Sky Full of Balloons
5. Here's to the Queen
6. My Visit to the Money Lender and Other Happenings
7. Falling in Love with Warren
8. The Wild West
9. Me As Mom
10. Montecito Lifestyle
11. Leaving
12. Sunflower
13. John
14. Kit and The New Age...
15. One Rock ... One Tree



I have lived in many houses. Some were large and elaborate, some small and simple. A few were rented, others were built and owned by my husband and myself. One was designed and built by a world-famous architect and became a mecca for people from many parts of the world.

I went yesterday to visit an old friend who is dying and was reminded of the long ago early morning when hearing the doorbell ring, I looked to see my friend, who was then working for me as my butler, standing at the door talking with a young couple in French. He was telling them that he would ask me if it would be convenient for them to see the house as they had not written ahead. My friend, a black man, had grown up on a farm in Louisiana, and although virtually illiterate, had spoken French all his life.

That house in Santa Barbara was designed and built for us by the architect Richard Neutra, and was considered by many critics to be the best thing he had done up to that time. It was built of native stone and glass with floors of terrazzo, and it was interesting to watch the stone masons handling the stone during building. They sat on the ground with the stone between their legs, chipping patiently away with a wedge-like instrument as in the time of Christ, tiny bits flaking away until the stone had reached the desired shape. All this to form the dramatic and quite formal structure that was the finished product.

Each house has left me memories, not only the houses themselves, but the landscapes they occupied, the views I saw from their windows, the life I lived in them, and, most of all, the people I shared them with.

So I shall write about my life in terms of where and how I have lived, and with whom. A friend suggested to me not long ago that I could be described as a woman who has progressed from socialite to political activist to spiritual seeker. It sounds rather grandiose, but it does have a ring of truth.

As everyone's life is, mine too has been a journey of transformation: if nothing else, from struggling to become an adult after coping with being born into a wealthy family and then enduring childhood. It is hard to grow up.

And I believe that I started to grow up on that day in late October, 1968, when I drove for the last time down the long winding driveway through the unspoiled oak forest, the setting for the house I had lived in for thirty years. I had been for all of my life the observer. It was as if I had always stood behind the curtain, on stage, yet not a part of the cast, and now the curtain was about to go up and I was ready for it.

Blue Dolphin Publishing, 1992

Also by Kit Tremaine: The Butterfly Rises

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