As Jesse Bier's daughter, I can attest to the fact that my mother was indeed affectionately known as Pepee by her family, a nickname derived from the French word poupee, meaning doll. The baby of the family - youngest by 9 years- and full of life and energy, she was much beloved as the little sprite that she was. By the time my father rolled into town, she had transformed into an intelligent, well educated, stylish woman, who, like many French people, was more than a little well-disposed towards the swashbuckling American soldiers who had just liberated them. She also appreciated my father's earnestness and ready sense of humor, very welcome after the seriousness of the war, especially after years of living in hiding in Vichy-governed Paris under constant threat of discovery and deportation to a concentration camp.
My mother grew up in a hurry when the war came, but she also grabbed life by the throat the moment the war was over, escaping Paris now and then for England and Italy and heading to the mountains of France and Switzerland by turns for bouts of skiing and hiking. Even though born and raised a city girl, she always did love the country. No surprise she was well-suited for her future life as the wife of English professor Jesse Bier in god-forsaken Missoula, Montana, arguably better suited than his Hoboken, New Jersey self to a life of hiking, fishing and skiing – she easily hiked and skied 8-10 miles in a day well into her 80’s.
My mother also put on fabulous dinner parties, as Michael Fiedler mentions, catered by none other than herself, excellent French cook that she was. She went on to write her own tome, "A French Woman's Cookbook for her American Daughters," which has become a treasured family bible.
The Fiedler name figured now and again in family conversation some eons ago, and if my dad struck the Fiedlers as square, we heard quite the opposite regarding Mr. Fiedler, who in particular, struck my father as sometimes academically far out, although my father was neither insensible nor unappreciative of Mr. Fiedler’s original take on things. I suppose the truth lies somewhere in between. I myself remember Arthur? Fiedler chiefly as a man sporting an extravagantly unruly head of seriously kinky hair, but such are the observations of an impressionable teenager....
Leslie (Bier) Ariel
Missoula News/Independent Publishing |
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