A Film That Defined Us
A BIT OF SUBJECTIVE PERSONAL TRIVIA
Twins; Jessica and Gregory were born on February 28. The doctors
said they would arrive on April 1, but I said March 1, and I
was only five hours off the mark.
It had been a freezing bitter cold day. A snow storm had started
the night before. Actually it was a blizzard. Our French neighbors
said it was colder than any day they had ever experienced. Art
Buckwald wrote an entertaining column about it being the coldest
winter in 40 years.
We were depending on the Film Editor's wife, Margaret, to drive
us to the hospital, when 'the day' came. Well when it did arrive,
there was a bit of confusion. Margaret's car was on the fritz
and she had to 'borrow' one from the Producer. Not Daryll Zanuck...Elmo
Williams'. Actually not Elmo's car, his wife's, Lorraine. That
caused a bit of a problem as Lorraine had been heading out to
the Military base to pick up some 'real American' food for their
Evidently we liked living close to the edge. We didn't think
it could get too pressing. Or that there might be any 'car trouble'.
The reasons we had no car were multiple. First we wanted a certain
color and it hadn't arrived yet. But more importantly, we had
been waiting to buy the car, just as we would be able to leave
Paris. This way we could avoid the French Auto Tax, which was
a killer. Our plan was to have the purchase ready to go...and
then at the last minute...after the twins arrived...get out
of town fast.
During the film's production location in Paris, the Algerian
Terrorists were bombing the residential neighborhoods. Daily.
Mobs were always marching in the streets, shouting and screaming.
The day the twins arrived, a house three doors away from us
had just been bombed. That house was in rubble for the rest
of our time in Paris.
It had been bombed by mistake. They killed the wrong people.
Although I think any one of the people would be have to be considered
the wrong people to kill.
Terrorists were after a Minister of something or other.
Mentor's Baby Sitter, Monique, whose father was a research scientist
at the Pasteur Institute, took him to look for treasures among
the fallen bricks.
Our laundry was washed by hand, three days a week, by a Polish
Immigrant, Sophia. She had a different view point. Sophia would
cry for days after each mob surged down our street, marching past
our apartment building, shouting. And she cried after each bombing.
And so Sophia cried the entire time we lived in Paris.
husband Cashmere would come to walk her home. Together they walked
past the rubble... his arm around her shoulders.
Sometimes Sophia was hysterical and washed our clothes...with
a frenzy. They were extra bright and gleaming due to her intense
The last week before the twins were born, one night, a bomb exploded
every 15 minutes. Seemed like all night.
The month prior to the twins birthday, we had been shopping for
baby clothes. 'We', the three of us, or I should say the five
of us, (Mentor Sr., Mentor Jr., me, and of course the unborn twins)
, were bombed. When the bomb exploded, we didn't know we had gone
'up' into the air, until we came 'down'. HARD. It was an interesting
The Algerian Revolution had been going on for quite some time.
Even before we had flown to Paris on location. But I hadn't known.
Mentor sort of did. In the mornings there were bodies hanging
off the trees. (Not from the Bombs.) They were bodies of guys
who disagreed with someone or something, and were killed, and
then hung up or I should say strung up, in the middle of the night.
I never saw them. Mentor always did. He saw them almost every
morning as he walked to work through the pretty, peaceful, Bois
de Bolonge, on his way to the Studio of the same name. He and
the crew always saw them. It was very rarely reported. In fact...never.
The papers handled the news about the Terrorists about the same
way they had handled the 300 mile hole in the Ozone Layer, that
had begun back then. The Press: Time Magazine and all the others,
said that 'it' ... the Ozone, would close up (not to worry), in
1000 years. They thought this was pretty good.
Well, it didn't close up. The hole is over three thousand five
hundred miles wide. It's as big as the US. It seems to be getting
None of us, alive now, will ever come to know the end result.
The month the twins were born was very interesting. The Hindu
Astrologers and all the world Mystics, said the world would come
to an end that month. Their predictions were based on a pile up
of planets in Aquarius. But by the 28th, not much had happened.
Maybe the millions praying saved us. The twins though do have
It was dinner time when the kids finally decided to be born.
Mentor Sr., was nervous. Very. In his spare time he was always
worrying about how we could travel through Europe with an energetic
little son and two new born babies. I thought we could. I was
always the more naively optimistic. The entire pregnancy I told
him, "We can do it. Don't worry. It's nothing. I'm organized."
When the babies decided to be born (five minutes apart), the dinner
hour at the hospital had passed, but I was hungry. Actually starving.
I demanded something to eat as I had used up a lot of energy.
I didn't want only a glass of milk and a cookie, which is what
they first offered me, as the kitchen was closed.
doctor took my side. He prescribed the dinner. I can recall the
meal even now. It was very French. Delicious. Vegetable soup.
A white fish filet. Tiny baby carrots, with a kind of honey syrup.
Creamed spinach. Mashed potatoes with heavy cream. Hot rolls with
thick creamy butter. Radishes. Olives. Peaches in heavy heavy
heavy syrup. Tea. Custard pie. Strawberry Jello with whipped cream.
(Sadly nothing really filled me up.)
Mentor Jr., was always a forceful little kid. Maybe a little spoiled.
He always got almost everything he asked for due to a strong and
persistent style and weak minded parents. Sometimes he used charm.
At least I thought he did.
Early on in the pregnancy, maybe with still seven months to go,
before we really knew any of the important details, after I had
told the kid that a little brother or sister might be on the way......we
were out shopping, when a woman pushing twins in a stroller, walked
past us. The twins were a boy and a girl. And Oh God, Mentor Jr.,
saw them. I knew what that would trigger...and it did.
He excitedly, demanded, "I don't want one baby, I want two.
I want two. A brother and a sister. One isn't enough. "
To quiet him down I spontaneously blurted, "Ok. Ok. Shut
up. TWO! I promise. A brother and a sister. "
He sternly said, "I mean it."
The doctor didn't think much of our plans to travel through Europe
for a year with three kids -- one little kid and two new born
babies. He had a strange expression on his face and frowned a
lot and would constantly tell me, "Go home Mrs. Huebner.
Go home. Go home to your family. You will need help. There is
much more to do than you realize. Go home. "
But we didn't.
It turned out OK.
Except for Kennedy and the Russians, and their problem -- for
a while we couldn't take the ship home if we had wanted to. But
it wasn't so bad when it got settled.
Cuban Missile Crisis meant different things to different people.
To us it meant spending 'The Fourteen Days of October' living
with three kids, in Montmarte, in a fellow artist's cold water
flat, sleeping in our coats, broke and waiting for Kennedy to
get the upper hand. Khrushchev folded, Kennedy lifted the ban
on ocean travel and we were permitted to start the journey home
insights about our multiple predicaments while on The Longest
are found through this link: : Quotes
& Stories - Fun Quotes