I was born in Paris, France, the younger of two daughters born to French parents who owned a small bookstore. Although I have few memories of my early years spent in the City of Light, I have always had a deep connection with Paris and feel quite at home when I visit.
In February 1951, we immigrated to the U.S., crossing the dark green Atlantic Ocean on the Liberté.
It had taken my middle-aged parents several years to pull together the necessary permissions and sponsorship, their determination fueled by the hope they could take their daughters to a more peaceful life, and take themselves away from memories of the war in Europe and the suffering of their friends and families.
Once in New York, we celebrated my 5th birthday sitting on the edge of our beds in our cramped hotel room, as we ate pancakes served on acid green Fiestaware plates. My father's promised job at the United Nations had evaporated with the sudden death of his U.N. sponsor, and I'll never know what
our parents did to pull us through with only $20 to our name. But two
weeks later, we boarded a plane bound for San Francisco, embarking on our
immigrants' dream of a better life.
we settled into a tiny apartment on Alpine Terrace near the Castro, my parents
were hired by the City of Paris department store, a haven for recent French
immigrants. My sister and I settled into life at an American public
school, where I arrived speaking only French. My first day in school,
they teamed me up with a little Mexican girl named Maria, who taught me English
and showed me the ropes, such as they are in kindergarten.
When I was 11, my father kindly let me take his camera
down the hill to school to shoot photos of my friends at our graduation,
and from that day on, I photo-documented my life, stockpiling hundreds
of snapshots until, many years later, I turned my attention to improving
the quality of my photographs.