A painting of my mother’s father as a young man. His name was Francis Leyens. But everyone called him Eddie. (and why wouldn’t they?)
My sister and I called him Pa. Eddie Leyens was from Vicksburg, Mississippi. He went to Exeter and Yale when very few Southern boys did. When he returned to Vicksburg after Yale, he became The Man. And this is what I know: he was handsome as all get out. Smart and funny and charming. Sophisticated. I was only 11 when he died, so how could I possibly know this? Because my mom never stopped telling his stories. I do remember how loving and attentive he was to me and my sister. And since his two kids are no longer around to pay homage, I will.
Happy Father’s Day, Pa.
When I was a teenager, my mom and I were talking about a friend of mine. She was from an elegant New Orleans family — her own mother was stylish — but the daughter had, um, questionable taste. My mother said it made no sense given her upbringing. And then Mom quoted her father, “Daddy said it’s one thing to go to Smith wearing an ankle bracelet. It’s quite another to graduate with it still on.” Ouch.
I lifted that line verbatim. I put it in the play that got me into Yale. Stole it from Eddie Leyens, Yale ‘25.
At least it’s all in the family.
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