Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Dunsmuir Saga

The Dunsmuir Saga

After telling a coworker that I had visited Craigdarroch Castle she showed up with the book, The Dunsmuir Saga by Terry Reksten. To tell the truth I wasn’t really interested in learning anymore about the family or reading the book, but, I took the book home. While flipping through it I did become interested in two family members: Elinor Dunsmuir (1887-1938) and Dola Dunsmuir (1903-1966). Both were daughters of James Dunsmuir (1851-1920) who was the son of Robert Dunsmuir (1825-1889) who built Craigdarroch. Elinor liked to dress in men’s clothes and smoke cigars. She was also probably the smartest and best read in the family. From the book: “She found female friends who shared her preferences, women who favoured tweed jackets and jodhpurs, and who, like Elinor, wore their hair cut short and blunt.” Sounds like a character you would want to get to know.

Dola was the youngest of James’ daughters and she was smitten with and had a 40 year friendship with Tallulah Bankhead (1902 – 1968). The book describes their relationship as “In the topsy-turvy, day for night world in which Tallulah spun, Dola was the pale moon revolving around her.” Bankhead had a long career, but, for the culturally challenged like me, I think of her as the Black Widow villainess ("Batman, dahling...") in Batman and her appearance on an I Love Lucy episode (dinner scene).

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