Category Archives: children of divorce

Hooray for Hump Day! Summer Pleasures

Robbie learns to ride a bike.

Summers with our dad in Minneapolis meant the simplest joys — bright summer nights of tag and kick-the-can, running over the neighborhood with a pack of kids with no schedules or agendas, wearing clothes we could get dirty and shoes we could wear out, and of course riding bikes.

Smiles of a Summer’s Day

Robbie’s gap-toothed smile.
One of the great treats of our summers in Minneapolis with dad was the neighborhood park (Thomas Lowry aka Seven Pools) which contained a water feature you could play in — seven pools varying in temperature and depth strung along a manmade stream.
Thomas Lowry Park aka Seven Pools
The park was built on land donated to the city park system (at Douglas and Mt. Curve Avenues) by Thomas Lowry the man who built and owned the street railway system in Minneapolis.  The neighborhood, Lowry Hill, was developed by him.  The park had been called Douglas Triangle and then Mt. Curve Triangles (yes, plural for some forgotten reason) before finally being named for Lowry.  Of course all the kids in the neighborhood just called it Seven Pools.
As it looked to us.
Another little piece of our childhood heaven in Minneapolis with our dad — much thought of and much missed after our return to our mother in New York.

Sunday In The Park With Dad

One of the unexpected joys of publishing Chanel has been the unearthing of photographs from friends and distant relatives.  (This one is from a series taken by an old Minneapolis friend one our last summers with our Dad.)  As you can imagine after reading the book, not very many pictures or keepsakes made it through with us — things were lost in storage, destroyed by our mother or simply left or abandoned by us as we tried to run faster and faster from our past through a long series of houses, rooms and apartments.  


Summers with Daddy — Carnival Rides

Robbie & Me

One of our last, if not our last summer, with our dad (James Lawless).  I’m not sure where this rickety old ride is but I think maybe the Minnesota State Fair.  You can still find these old warhorses at county fair grounds and little mom-and-pop amusement parks all over the country.  They may not have the scientifically engineered spills and thrills of the giant rollercoasters at Six Flags or Cedar Point or Disney World but, like Coney Island’s famous Cyclone, they have their own special kind of terror: they may fall apart at any minute!  The old herky-jerky movements, loose nuts and bolts and shakey scaffolding seem to have been a part of rides like these since they were new.  There even used to be tiny ones driven around on flatbed trucks that would come to neighborhoods like an ice cream truck bringing little thrills for a quarter.  Our Mother (Georgann Rea) took us to Disneyland once on a trip to Beverly Hills–the Beverly Hills Hotel and its Polo Lounge being more her idea of amusement.  But as wonderful as Disneyland was, its calculated charm couldn’t quite match the grinding gears, sunburned shoulders and sticky days of fairs with our dad.  What are your memories of local amusement parks and fairs?  Let me know in the comments or email me at  

Second Chance at a Happy Childhood

Readers often ask how it was possible for me to have children to have a happy home life after everything I’d been through as a child, teenager and young adult and having had a role model like Mother.  I tell them that having children has been for me a second chance to have a happy childhood by giving my children one.  And as for not having a mothering role model, I kind of made one up.  When faced with a question or challenge with my kids, I’d often ask myself what Georgann would do and then… do the opposite.  It’s worked out quite well.  My son Harry graduated from high school this week and my daughter Grace is a delightful middle schooler.


Summers Away from Georgann

Flower Children: Striking a pose next to Daddy’s Mustang convertible.

One summer, before Mother took us away to London, Daddy had some time off from the Guthrie and rented a little place in Wisconsin.  He’d drive along the back roads at what felt like a hundred miles an hour with the top down and Robbie and I jumping up and down in the back seat as the wind blew back our hair and rushed through our fingers.  I still get that feeling of freedom sometimes on a long drive.


Summertime Girls on Chanel Bonfire

Minneapolis Summers…

One of our summer babysitters, Beverly, with Robbie, her summer hair going wild, holding her teddy bear Guthrie (named for Sir Tyrone) and our friend Grettie. I think I took this picture.  Daddy would hire a girl to watch us while he was in rehearsal.  After a production started he’d spend the days with us himself and the babysitter would only come at night to put us to bed.  


Robbie and me in our playclothes from Dayton’s…

Every summer our dad would meet our plane at the Minneapolis Airport.  He’d take one look at our Florence Eiseman dresses and polished Mary Janes and take us straight to Dayton’s Department store (where Mary Tyler Moore tosses her hat in the air) to buy Garanimals, Keds and dungarees that we could get dirty and muddy and wet and be kids in.