Little Edie: Mother was annoyed that I became a model.
Big Edie: I didn’t think it was enough for you, putting on fur coats and taking them off again. If she’d done something when she took the fur coat off, it might’ve been better, but she didn’t. She put it right on again.
"I’ve sworn off bachelors. They’re boring, inconsiderate, pig-headed, stubborn spoiled mama’s boys who think they have a premium on women, which unfortunately they have— there being so many of us girls around. But one has got to make the most in a difficult situation, and that’s why women in desperation have turned to the married man. Married men are generous and discreet; they don’t make a fuss, they don’t stick around, and they let you have a career if you want one." -Edith Beale, 1940s.
"They’re twenty years too late– everybody. Or I’m fifty years ahead. I can’t decide which." -Edith Beale
"Daughter," she was told, "you are a disgrace. You’re not a lady."
"Of course I’m not a lady, Mother," Little Edie told her, “I’m an entertainer.”
April 2, 1940 marks the death of Maude Sergeant Bouvier— Big Edie’s mother and Little Edie’s grandmother. Big Edie’s final familial ally, other than her daughter, this was a huge loss and marked the beginning of the end for the Beales’ relationship with the Bouvier family.
To get to the beach, or the pool, from the Bouviers’ cabana, one had to march down a long boardwalk past all the other cabanas and their owners. “Good morning, Dr. Boots.” “How are you, Mrs. Pagel?” “Hi, Mr. Lee,” the Bouvier young would chirp as they sauntered down what they came to call the “midway.”
In those days the Bouvier who attracted the most attention from the other cabana owners at the Maidstone was Little Edie. A curvaceous blonde in her mid-twenties, she would walk down the boardwalk in a tight, elastic, one-piece bathing suit and actually succeed in distracting the tycoons from their Wall Street Journals.
Excerpt from: “The Bouviers: Portrait of an American Family” | John H. Davis
"We’re entering a new age now— the Negro is going to sit at the same table as the white man. We’re not going to fight Russia, we’re going to assimilate some of her ideas. We have to… It’s a new era and intolerance is out— The closed mind and the unseeing eye is out and judgment of others is out— the other fellow may be right and you may be wrong. Your father’s era is over, but your mother’s will never be over. She lived by the Golden Rule, Jack. Do unto others as you would be done by."
-Edie Beale, 1948.
On a blustery East Hampton day like this one, Big Edie is shown shoveling snow on the second floor deck of Grey Gardens, c. 1940.
"I was a model. I did shows in the garment district. And I was, what they called, haute couture — they made things on me, designers. I never did photography because I was afraid of my father. I didn’t want him to know where I was working or what I was doing." -Edith Beale
Little Edie: I don’t think I ever had anybody loathe me as much as my relatives did.
Big Edie: They were jealous. They were all so ugly compared to you.