Hardie Gramatky's Story

A vignette of the daily life of Hardie and Dorothea Gramatky

What was my parents' daily life like? There were years when they would get up at 6:30 a.m. for "Sunrise Semester," a television show with New York University professors who discussed literature (from Proust to Virginia Woolf to Camus), an interest of Hardie's that never waned. After breakfast, my father would work in his studio for the morning, coming downstairs for lunch, then upstairs again to work. Some days he would take the train into the City to deliver an illustrating job. Doppy recalled that occasionally she'd take his jobs in for him. "Whichever it was, we'd be so glad to get home and compare notes on Our Day!" And if he wanted to take a day off and it was a nice day, he would go out and do the fields with his tractor (it was fun to see him and our neighbor, Dr. David Beck, zipping around on their two tractors!) or put up some shelves or turn over the garden. In the evening, Hardie would come downstairs around 5:00, and they'd have a cocktail and talk in our kitchen. Then they'd take the dogs for a walk and Mom would make dinner. Of course, this schedule would change if an art director said, "I want it the first thing Monday morning" because then Hardie would be working late hours on the job.

Our house in Westport was a one-of-a-kind Dutch colonial farmhouse that was perched on top of a hill at 60 Roseville Road. In the winter, we could see the Long Island Sound through the trees at the back of the two-acre property. Hardie's studio on the second floor had a picture window letting in the north light and a funny, old-fashioned sink that was great for washing out paintbrushes. There were two ceramic vases, one filled with the "not good brushes" that a daughter or grandchild might head for, the other filled with the "good ones" that we left alone. [Happily, my husband, Kendall Smith, and I moved back into my childhood home in 1993 and love all the memories and views of living there in a town that still celebrates writers and artists from its long history as an “art town”. Ken uses Dad’s drawing table as a desk and we both spend a lot of time in the “studio” working on the computer.]