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3/17/2008

Your Monthly Monkey, February Edition

Posted by Gwen |

Mrs. Virginia "Byrdie" Snowden-Bowles

This edition of Your Monthly Monkey introduces aging Manhattan socialite and world traveler, Mrs. Virginia “ByrdieSnowden-Bowles. Timely publication of this piece was delayed when I received a postcard at the end of January that read, “Staying at the castle until March. Sincerest apologies. Will call when I return to the Manhattan house. Yours, Byrd.” The authentic vellum stationary was covered in a perfectly neat and even hand.

Mrs. Bowles returned to the states last week and gave me an hour of her time this afternoon. When I arrived for the interview I was stunned by the grandeur of her Upper East Side apartment. Vivaldi’s Concerto No. 6 in A Minor played softly while I waited in the walnut and marble lobby. After about ten minutes I was led to the library where she lounged on a Louis XVI chaise. Before sliding silently out of the room, the butler poured tea and set out fresh Italian biscuits.

My first question was about the castle. She explained that during the cold North American winter she likes to vacation in Florence and regularly stays at Cabbiavole Castle. She apologized for delaying publication of this piece but when the time came to return to the States she simply wasn’t up for it. She was eventually forced to come back for the annual Board of Directors meeting for the New York City Commission on Women’s Issues.

She insisted I make my self comfortable while pointing to an ornate armchair in front of the warmly glowing fireplace. We spend the next hour chatting. Byrdie, as I soon came to know her, was more approachable than I had expected. She is a talented conversationalist with a colorful and storied past.

Her long history of short but profitable marriages defines her more than she might believe. The extremes of her personality are reflected in the men she loved enough to marry.

Her first husband, Oscar Snowden, a fur trapper and all-around outdoorsman, actually captured, skinned and fashioned the mink hat and stole pictured above. She loved him dearly and was devastated when he was killed in a mysterious hunting accident.

Her second husband was just a diversion from her sadness. He was a younger man of little to no social status whose simplicity calmed her raw nerves. She heartily remembers the physical side of that relationship acting as a salve to her soul.

Her only child, Samuel, was the catalyst for her third marriage to Bernard “Bernie” Schenke, a copy editor for a little-known New York magazine. The apple of Byrdie’s eye, Samuel directs Fringe Theater in London, their version of Off Broadway. His productions are best described as performance art pieces that he hopes raise consciousness about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. She sees him as a misunderstood revolutionary.

Just last spring Byrdie married Jonah Bowles and vows that he is the last. She said that he may or may not make her happy for the rest of her days but his success as a venture capitalist will.

True to her Scorpion nature, she was captivating . . . at times sensual and mysterious, others moody and analytical. This grand dame of Madison Avenue ended our visit by insisting I announce that she knows she’s had too much plastic surgery. She asked me to explain that she’s currently involved in litigation over the work performed on her eyes, nose and mouth. She said that at 83 years old, she’s too tired to sell such an obvious lie.

6 comments:

hellohahanarf said...

my mother's maiden name was snowden. wonder if i am related to virginia!

Whiskeymarie said...

I always wondered what happened to old Oscar. "hunting accident"?
Hmmm.

Virginia doesn't look a day over 68.

liberalmudhen said...

Your one comment to me is "duh"??

Well, I think your monkey smells.

A lot.

And she doesn't cook and clean to my satifaction like all female monkeys should, by God.

Gwen said...

Narfy: Given what I believe to be true about her portfolio, I hope you are related to her.

WM: She asked me to thank you for the kind words.

Mudhen: You're right. I apologize. Put up another post and I'll give it another try. Byrdie suggested I throw poo at you for not being a good sport. Be grateful I chose not to.

amy & jeff said...

You should have talked more about her Asian cousing, Who Flung-Poo.

BA-DUM CHING! I'm here all week, folks.

amy & jeff said...

JESUS! Cousin.

Me go school. Me learn spell!

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