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Penez History
      ~Emile Penez~   (Emile's Story, written in a Novel form) Michelle Penez Thorndike, 1995

         DEDICATION ~~ I dedicate this book to my husband, John Thorndike, for in him I found the love I never had known and always had hoped for. And to my sister, Yvonne who has translated from French many of the stories and newspaper clippings of Emile's Life. Without her outstanding effort the family would never had known so much about Emile.

          This is a true story of my grandfather's life. The facts and events in this story are correct but conversation and some situations are imagined by me to make the story more cohesive.


Emile was born in Valenciennes, France, September 20, 1850. His mother died in 1855 and his father in 1861. Of his formative years I know nothing. Emile lived in Brussels and was a student there until eighteen. He became a soldier during the Franco Prussian War but returned to Brussels in 1871.

He began to pursue his many talents with a concert appearance at The Society of Music Lovers in Brussels. He also was a student of the Universite de Brussels and participated in a program singing in the Salle de la Nouvelle in Brussels in 1874.

~~ PARIS ~~

It is in 1875 that Emile breaks away from his past and goes to Paris to be able to develop his future in the arts. He had long ago began painting and he felt that in Paris he would be fully able to express his love of the world about him. Paris, one of the most beautiful cities in the world and one he could paint with his heart.

Emile settled himself in a suitable room near Momarte and wandered into the local Cafe de la Nouvelle Athenes. It was full of artists and the conversations were exciting. He spied Camero Pissaro with Monet and Renoir discussing the coming second Impressionistic show sponsored by Durand-Ruel. This was a fresh approach to painting and even though he did not paint in that style, Emile still admired their committing themselves totally to something new and not accepted by the buying public. Their exhibit was a failure as we know , it took many years for the impressionists to be accepted.

The boulevards sparkled like fine glass and everywhere flowers bloomed, along the Seine artists set up their canvasses and filled them with the life that is Paris.

There are no records of my grandfather becoming well known in Paris for he was there only a short time. There were many painters in Paris who starved trying to make a living. I know there are some of Emile's paintings in Europe but they are lost to us. Most of his paintings were done in America and are cherished by his family.

"Emile," shouted Antoine (a fellow artist) his voice booming up to Emile's room on the third floor. "Come down." Emile set aside his brushes and went to see what the ruckus was all about. "I've been given two free tickets to the Artists Ball and I want you to come with me."

Emile couldn't help but wonder how that had happened for Antoine was poor and didn't know many people. "I traded a painting for them."

"How exciting, Antoine, I'dlike to attend with you."

Both men were good looking but Emile was truly outstanding -tall with a wavy head of dark hair and large beautiful eyes that turned the girls' heads.

It was an exciting evening and they danced through the night. Everyone received a chance on a raffle, the prize being a one-way ticket to the new world! Emile won! He was speechless and even though he always wanted to go to the Americas, he never expected to have the opportunity to do so. Why not! He was a young bachelor and ready for the adventure in every way.

It was 1875 and the ship sailing from Calais was immediately under way. Emile had never been to sea and the experience was one of the greatest of his life. He stood on deck and watched the huge sails fill and he felt like he was flying through the air. It wasn't long before he was helping the crew with the lines and cleaning the deck. At night when all was quiet he would join the men on deck and smoke his cigars. Those quiet, relaxed moments led him to do a little singing and joke telling as he was a person who enjoyed entertaining. Emile was a favorite passenger and his personality gave everyone a great deal of pleasure. When pressed to perform he always did.


Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, Argentina the passengers lined the deck to enjoy the spectacle on the wharf. Fruit, beautiful lace items, hand crafted leather goods, and flowers everywhere gave everyone a thrill after weeks of nothing but water on every horizon.

Emile milled among the Argentineans as he spoke Spanish as well as French making friends easily. It wasn't long before his talents were requested and he appeared on the stage there in a four-act comedy. He remained in Buenos Aires several months hoping to find a ship going towards America.

His money was giving out and he realized he would have to do something in order to live until he was on his way again. He offered to "sing for his supper" at a favorite restaurant and was given a steady job as an entertainer. To augment his income he painted in the local park. He had no materials with him so he exchanged his gold cigar case given to him by his father, and made the trade with a local artist who was only too happy to do so, thinking "my grandfather" crazy. But Emile was in the mood and couldn't wait to get started. He painted seascapes, landscapes and portraits and even painted delightful tiny scenes on bits of bark he pulled off the trees. It filled his time of waiting, and with singing at night the days passed quickly.

One lovely summer night Emile decided to take a stroll, smoking his much beloved cigar. It was rather dark so the only thing visible was the round red glow from it as he puffed.

"Good evening Monsieur Penez." "Good evening. How did you know it was me?" "I notice you go for a walk each night and it always is accompanied by your cigar." "What is your name?" asked Emile. "My name is Rosa and I work at the restaurant where you perform." "I've never seen you." "That is because I am always in the kitchen. " "The food is delicious! No wonder I don't know you." "Next time you see me say 'hello!'"

It seemed to Emile she appeared often and then each night it was the same, she found him, and accompanied him on his walk.

One night Rosa said, "I would like so much to have you love me."

Emile was touched as she was a dear girl and obviously inexperienced. The last thing he needed was to get involved with any girl as he knew he would be leaving soon.

He made this clear to her so that she would not feel rejected but understand. Instead he gave her the "French Kiss" on both checks and tenderly suggested they become friends instead.


He gained a passage to Santiago from one of the patrons of the arts who felt his talents should be exposed to a more affluent audience.

There were characteristic portraits of him taken there in costume. His theatrical performances included men as well as women.

Emile became very involved in serious acting, remaining in Santiago for two years . His comic characterizations were to be "prime forte" throughout his life.

An epidemic of yellow fever broke in Santiago. To escape, Emile stowed away on a ship in the harbor not knowing his destination. After they were underway, he was discovered and when it was found out who he was, Emile was asked again to "sing for his supper. " One of the first class passengers was so moved by his singing that he paid Emile's passage and Emile was elevated to a first class cabin. He sang each evening and entertained with his comic characterizations until he reached the ship's destination. Unbelievably -San Francisco!

There was a quarantine put on the ship because of the yellow fever in Chile and no one could disembark until the authorities cleared the ship.

That evening Emile was on deck viewing the beautiful city - so near and yet so far. Emile slipped over the side and swam to shore. He remained hidden the remainder of the night before he attempted to become one with the city which was to be his city.


The French Colony at that time was legendary. Emile was directed to the French Concil to find employment. He was a gentleman and spoke beautiful French, as he had been well educated. Emile was immediately given a position a Prescott Scott & Co. as a draftsman (in two years it was renamed the Union Iron Works).

It is interesting to note that a large oil painting of Emile's father, Theodore Pierre Penez, exists somewhere in Europe. It shows Theodore holding a compass and a construction plan. The implication being he was an engineer in metal construction. It would seem Emile gleaned many of Theodore's instincts and abilities for he remained in this position for the remainder of his life.
Within three years of 1880, Emile was secure as a top entertainer in San Francisco and much in demand. His reviews in the papers read" ...bursts of applause and prolonged bravos ...delightful rendition of French comic songs ...knows how to make his point ...outdid himself ...the voice, the physique, the gestures these joys ...these successes; he makes one laugh continuously 'side splitting' ...a singer and a comic who can put his public in a gay mood reach a pyramid of success ...recalled four times, brought down the house."

Emile attended a surprise party for a lady named Alice Lever. Attending was a young man named Jules Bretonnel who in time became a very close friend. They went everywhere together for they are listed in press clippings as being present at various entertainments enjoyed by the French circle.

On February 17, 1882 there was a young lady who sang "Melodia (Ie Prentempo) by Gounod at one of the soirees. She looked like an angel and sang like one - so exquisite a face Emile couldn't take his eyes off of her - chestnut hair and eyes as blue as the sea. When the song ended he said "Jules, I am going to marry that girl." Whereupon Jules replied, "You must be dreaming, do you realize that is my sister?"
Emile had fallen instantly in love and it completely consumed his life. He spent as much time with her as he could so she couldn't have the opportunity to fall in love with anyone else. The day after he met her a bouquet of violets were at her door with an accompanying note hand drawn by him with forget-me-knots and violets - "My flowers are modest but they are sincere."

The following days he again sent violets for they were her favorite flowers and wrote beautiful words to express his interest in her. How could she resist such attention from the man who was the "Toast of the Town." There wasn't any single women around who hadn't wanted him to care for her.
Emile wrote to Pauline's father and asked if he could court Pauline. He was given permission to do so because Pauline's father knew of Emile's stature in the community as well as the fact his son Jules was so in favor of him. Her father said "yes."

Their first date was during the day and Emile realized he must behave far differently than he had in the past for this girl was raised in a convent and had never been exposed to a world such as Emile's. He wanted to take her in his arms and make love to her but the most he dared to do was to take her hand as she alighted the stairs. It was a beautiful sunny day and not a breeze blowing so they decided to go to the Embarcadro and walk along the water's edge. Vendors were selling popcorn and peanuts and as Pauline reached for a peanut she felt something tugging her skirt. It was a little monkey with an organ grinder who wanted a peanut, too. They sat in the sun with the monkey playing nearby and Pauline opened her parasol. It was made of white eyelet and made pretty patterns on her face. Utterly feminine and appealing and reminded him of a painting by Monet.

Emile arranged for a canoe ride and prepared a lunch with it of course, champagne. Emile tied a heavy string on the wine bottle and let it hang in the water to keep it cool. All Emile required of Pauline was to look beautiful and that was easy. She wore a large straw hat with field flowers in front of the black ribbon band and on her writs were thin black velvet ribbons with little field flowers gathered on the top as well. Her dress was the color of golden straw and made of organza.
Emile paddled under a tree of weeping willow and putting down the paddle he held her hands turning them over to expose the back of her wrist~. He kissed them slowly and thoroughly.

Then he very gently put his arms around her and kissed her on the mouth. For Emile it was like walking into a lovely garden. The fragrance from her neck and shoulders filled the surrounding air with the aroma.

"Oh darling Pauline, Emile said." "I'm in love with you so deeply I cannot resist kissing you." "When I touch you I'm on fire." "Emile, I've never know what it is like to be kissed. I always imagined it would be wonderful and it is. It couldn't be wrong for you to kiss me when it is exactly what I wished you to do, could it?"

Jules had an idea for he was full of fun. "Emile," he said. "Why don't we tell my father that we are going to surprise my sister and mother and invite Madame Petit- point to tea? We will explain she is a lady who may be willing to make an investment in my business. Of course, Emile, you will play Madame Petit-point." Naturally Emile thought it a fun idea and challenge to see if he could fool Pauline, and fool her he did. The father agreed and on the appointed day they could see Madame Petit- point draw up in a rental carriage. She ascended the stairs, a big lump of a woman in a dress of flowered ruffles that made her appear even larger than she was.

Perched on her head was a hat with a veil to her chin and sticking out the side were long reddish blonde curls that bounced with each step. Emile altered his voice to a high pitch and he was ready. Peering out the window Jules' father said, "Good Heavens! I hope she has a great deal of money! Jules went to the door and very graciously invited her in, introducing "her" to those assembled. "Won't you sit down?" and Emile did so on a chair much too small and everyone gasped.

Jules' mother poured the tea and Pauline passed sandwiches and cake. Jules would quietly replenish Madame Petit-point's tea and pretended to pour in a little brandy, too. He would do this "unnoticed" several times and presently Madame Petit-point would begin to laugh, slur a little, and her hat would continually fall to the side. Everyone couldn't help but laugh because she was so funny. The local gossip was gone through and she was kept very busy with sips of tea and fanning her now warm face. Emile said, "Air, I need air." Jules offered to take her home and removed the dear lady before all would be discovered.

Once outside Emile and Jules went into convulsions of laughter. Jules drove his buggy around the corner and into the carriage house and there Emile changed clothes. Then he and Jules raced up the back stairs and yelled "surprise." The family laughed again and had tremendous fun while Pauline realized at last what a great actor Emile was.

Pauline was finding it harder and harder to be with Emile and not respond to his kisses the way she wanted to. He was a man of the world while she knew so little. Sometime she wished her world only existed in her home because there she felt safe. Yet, Emile would take care of her, for she knew he showed his love in many ways. None of her friends were besieged with love notes, candy and flowers as she was. No wonder she was in love with him, too. Should she tell him? He hadn't declared he wished to marry her as yet so she felt it might be best if she "set the scene." "Emile" Pauline said, "could we go for a carriage ride down the coast a way, find a lovely spot on the beach to have a picnic?"

Emile thought this a great idea to get away from the crowds and be really alone with her. Emile and Pauline made plans for the following Saturday as Emile was still working at the Union Iron Works and did special things only on the weekends. It was Saturday morning very early when Emile drove up to the front door in a rental carriage. Pauline wanted to do the picnic lunch herself and Emile was curious as to what she had packed in her picnic basket. Pauline was dressed for the day in a shorter skirt than usual and black stockings in the hope they could wade in the surf.

It was a glorious day, even made more so in their happy state of mind. If Emile didn't concentrate, he found himself driving off the road for he had a hard time keeping his eyes on it. Pauline wore a small black sailor hat trimmed in cherries and with her red striped shirt and black skirt she was lovely to see indeed. Adorable!

There were few people on the road and they proceeded quite quickly to what they considered the perfect spot. A cove protected them from the wind with a juniper tree on one side partially blocking the beach area.

Pauline had brought a beach ball and they played with it and splashed around in the surf and raced up and down the beach playing tag (ahem!).' All of the activity caused them to take time to relax a bit. Emile took a bottle of wine out of the surf so it was chilled to perfection.

He poured two glasses and (on clue) made a toast. "To my darling Pauline, with all my heart I ask you to marry me." To which Pauline replied, "Yes!"

The next weeks were busy ones looking for a house. There were many available but somehow not what they were looking for. Either they were too big or the location unsatisfactory.One evening they were taking a walk after dinner while Emile was smoking his cigar, and there it was, the perfect house! The little front yard had flowers of every description. Potted plants were on each of the steps leading to the front door as well. They knocked in response to the sign and were greeted by an older woman who obviously loved and cared for her home. The lady was going to move in with her daughter so "...yes, she planned to sell it."

The upper floor had two small bedrooms while on the main floor was a living room, dining room, kitchen, tiny bathroom and a sunroom across the whole back of the house looking out on another garden. Pauline was thrilled because it was planted with many perennials as well, so something would always be in bloom.

There was quite a lot of furniture stored in Pauline's parents Carriage House which was a good beginning to furnishing their new home. Emile had made a contact in South America and had purchased a gorgeous carved dining set. It was one of the first pieces of furniture to be sent around the Horn from South America. Emile had it removed from storage and placed it with pride in their home. As a child I loved to oil it and make it shine. I've seen many chairs like these but never another table and carved chest. Possibly the chest was bought individually as I've never seen anything with the carved animals and fish done in hand carved relief with such beauty out of one piece of wood. Exquisite! It now belongs to my nephew.

Pauline and Emile were married in the little French church, Notre Dame de la Victoria, by Abbe Pierre Robert, May, 1882. It was an evening wedding and attended by family and only a few friends. Candles were everywhere and created a beautiful ethereal atmosphere. Matching a pearl trimmed satin cap was the bridal grown, simple in style with long sleeves trimmed with the same tiny pearls. The satin skirt was pulled up in the back creating folds across the front of the bustle skirt. Her bouquet of white roses and lilies of the valley made the picture complete - she came down the aisle toward Emile. His body was trembling as they exchanged rings. Tears were in Emile's eyes. This was his bride and they would be together always.

Leaving the church was the traditional white rice as they jumped into the waiting bridal carriage festooned with flowers. Only Emile knew their destination - the Palace Hotel.

The carriage entered the famous "Horse Shoe" court yard. It was located in the center front of the hotel and made it possible for everyone to descend from the carriage without getting wet should it be raining. It was elegant for massive lighted fixtures of gold and crystal made it seem like a magical land indeed. Emile took hold of Pauline's hand as she alighted from the carriage while everyone watched in wonder at the beautiful vision before them. Emile was truly proud.

They were escorted into the dining room to have their wedding "feast" of: Hors d'oeuvre - BOUCHE AU FROMAGE Chilled consomme with Sherry Marinated melon and cantaloupe in Port Wine Pheasant under glass Wild rice Wedding cake.

The cake and champagne were given by the hotel to all those in the dining room wishing the newlyweds happiness. A violin and piano were playing softly and added much to the special evening that it was. Emile had reserved the bridal suite and it truly was a glorious room with pecan panelling and crystal appointments. Pauline went into the dressing room to prepare for the evening.

Emile was dressed in a dark green velvet robe and tended the fire waiting patiently for Pauline to appear. She opened the door of the dressing area and as she approached the fire, the outline of her beautiful body was revealed. Emile held his breath. He walked toward her and took her in his arms and proceeded to kiss her deeply. He then untied the chiffon peignoir and it fell to the ground and her gorgeous breasts he kissed until they swelled leaving her wanting more. They were high and out straight pointing upward. He caressed them and almost lost his control. Emile had painted many women but never had seen anyone to compare to the perfection that was hers. He thought of Botticelli's "Birth of Venus."

Emile picked her up in his arms and carried her to the bed and tenderly placed her beside him. "Pauline darling, I love you so much and I want to make you a part of me tonight." He began kissing her again slowly, talked lovingly to her and continued kissing her… and was glad to know how she responded to him. They had many hours to love one another… and her body was tuned to be loved by him.

The weather was ideal and Emile suggested a picnic in Marin. Pauline thought she would like that, and so they took the ferry over and were surprised how few people they saw. They climbed up hills to the very top of everything and felt like the world had been left behind. Looking out for miles nothing was moving and it became their mountain. It was a very hot day and Pauline was quite warm with all the climbing. Nearby was an irrigation ditch and they both thought, why not? They stripped off their clothes and jumped in. How good it felt to feel the coolness as they proceeded to splash each other and chase each other, laughing and having a great time in the water. They stretched out in the grass in the sun and enjoyed being dried off after all the play and fun.

Pauline looked like a sea nymph and Emile wished he had something with him so he could paint her. They both were held by the love in each others eyes. There could never be enough moments for them to have the fill of each other. He watched her with joy as she responded to his touch. He was transfixed and gave and loved with his soul. It must be God's love who joined them at that moment, for she conceived my father, Charles, who was born 9 months later.

Life changed for Pauline. It seems she wasn't suited to motherhood. Emile gave up all activities except his daily position at the Iron Works. He did this for two and a half years. The public missed him and asked him to perform but Pauline came first for Emile, and he tried everything he could to make her happy. Pauline wanted a divorce but the only way that it would be granted would be if they filed for adultery. Emile took the fall for her! - and stated, "No contest." There wasn't anyone else in his life. The court granted it and she was given custody of their son, Charles, (not intending to keep him.)

Emile put Charles in a foster home but every weekend he got his son and there grew a great love and respect for each other that was to be all their lives.

You ask about Pauline? Shortly afterwards, Pauline remarried. It was not successful and she divorced again and later committed suicide. I believe she was one of those women who was so beautiful she wanted all the attention. Her beauty must have been diminished having a child and she was even jealous of the attention paid to her baby.

Emile was an outstanding painter and I would imagine he painted Pauline often. However, there are no paintings of her as a subject in existence that we know of. It would seem logical he burned them all for he was wise enough to realize there was another life out there for himself and the paintings would only keep his grieving alive.

Attending the celebration for the French National Holiday on July 14, 1887 in San Francisco, Emile returned in true form. He presented Le Marseilles and then added new numbers among them "En Revnant de la Review." (In The Spirit Of Review.)

Here are selected quotations from "The San Francisco Examiner" of July lS, 1887. "The hit of the evening came next in the "En Revnant de la Review" sung by Emile Penez. "Monsieur Penez made an immense hit with the song. At it's conclusion 3,000 people were on their feet shouting for an encore which was gracefully given. The singer however, carefully avoided singing the finale of the second verse, which reads: moi, j, Faisais qu'un admirer/notr Brav' general Boulanger."

The reason given for the substitution was that the audience was entirely too demonstrative. The name Boulanger was too controversial. The centennial of French Republicanism was only 2 years away. Emotions were high.

Emile assisted in greeting and entertaining officers and crew of the French cruiser, Duquesne, an ironclad which was visiting the bay area. A grand reception was held for the admiral - The Marques de Bond, officers and crew. Emile acted as interpreter for the engineers during the visit. He entertained again as well with En-Rev-nent de la Revue, a poetic recital of a dramatic poem L'Eqauve and La Source.

On May 22, 1888 Emile received a copy of Les Pioupious direct from Paris where the song was currently in great vogue. He preformed the number at Irving Hall and it was reported in the newspapers" received with gusto."

On July 19, 1888, the Charleston was launched and there was an account of its launching in "The San Franco-California." It is always an important spectacle to see the gigantic mass of a vessel take possession of the sea." The Charleston was the first cruiser built on the pacific coast and the Union Iron Works had the honor of being its builder. Emile assisted at the launching. He wrote of the San Francisco. "It is probable that in a year's time she would join this elder ship, the Charleston."

E. PENEZ - DESIGNER at the Union Iron Works
Further activities in the year 1888 show a variety of interests that involved Emile. A gourmet, Emile dined at Delmonicos "..for the International Society of chefs" and also entertained. There was a request for Emile by the Franco Californian newspaper to review the comidie Francais production of "Molier's" works which was in progress. Emile gave his admiration and full appreciation.

It was quite flattering to be asked to review the production of one so famous.

April 3, 1889 Emile and his son Charles left for Paris by rail and arrived in New York. They boarded the S.S. Obdam for Rotterdam on April 13, 1889. There were relatives in France and Belgium and Emile had the opportunity to introduce his son to the family at last and to take Charles to see the "old haunts." Paris was a joy to them both and speaking fluent French, they were right at home. The avenues were filled with flowers and fountains every where. Many cafes had tables on the sidewalk and those eating became a part of a beautiful picture.

Emile and Charles sat down to have coffee and were joined by a tiny poodle. Down the avenue came an enormous woman calling "you naughty boy - where are you? Oh, there you are Louis." Ever the gentleman, Emile presented her with the dog but Louis wiggled out of her arms and was gone again. Emile said to Charles "I would have run away, too."

Emile began to laugh and suddenly softly sang a little song to Charles about a tiny dog. It was so funny that people began to listen and suddenly a young lady joined him in harmony. They went on for hours. The tables were filled and people wouldn't leave. Emile had that "magic" holding a crowd anywhere. His french was perfect and he was in his element making others happy and finding joy in what he did.

The Eiffel Tower was the most vivid addition to the Exposition in Paris. There were no airplanes in those days and so the height of the Tower was considered a wonder. On July 14th Emile and Charles dropped post cards from the third level post office in the Tower. Post cards were 3 cents a piece.

Emile took advantage of all the culture that Paris offered. He took Charles to museums and art galleries teaching him much. This practice continued throughout the years and Charles became well aware of all arts and music. His exposure to the cultural things in life prepared him to be the first curator of the San Francisco De Young Museum in 1917. I have "Chronicle" newspaper clippings of De Young, my father and the assembled crowed on opening days. My father had placed all the exhibits personally and was totally responsible for the opening. He remained curator for 7 years. My grandfather would have been proud of my father but he died before it happened.

Paris would not be Paris without the follies. The Can-Can was the rage and the leaps, jumps and legs flying really impressed Charles. San Francisco was never like this. Viva France!!

Immediately upon Emile's return to San Francisco he was busy at the Union Iron Works in preparation of the launching of the United States cruiser, the "San Francisco." Emile, as Draftsman-Designer wrote another article for the "Franco Californian. " "The cruiser was successfully launched at noon on October 27, 1889 and in spite of the rain, its launching was well attended by a considerable number of persons, including government engineers who assisted at this always imposing event, and including notations of the City of San Francisco. When the grand cruiser was freed of the props and started magnificently to take possession of the noble bay of san Francisco, from which it would part to become a glorious star on the face of the seas, the cheers from the spectators were loud, enthusiastic, and sincere.

The event is doubly remarkable to the citizens of the United States and of San Francisco, as the cruiser will carry the name already known to all parts of the globe. The American Navy has a brilliant defender; further, the local ship building industry will join the renown that up to now, has been missing in this country. The launching is praiseworthy evidence of the works of the United Iron Works Company and gives promise of other contracts of naval construction from the United State government in the future." Emile Penez, Designer - Union Iron Works.

The year 1889 closed with a brilliant ball on December l4th at the Odd Fellows Hall for the Spanish Mutual Benevolent Society. The entertainment was a popular song, the rage of Paris, "Le Pere de la Victorie." (The father of victory) of course sung by Emile. Eighteen ninety began with Emile ill with a case of "La Grippe" (influenza). He used this experience to write an amusing verse of the miseries of this affliction.

In January the French cruiser "Champlain" visited the San Francisco Bay. The local french feted the officers and crews, Emile entertaining with a presentation of "La Pere la Victorie" among other works at the festivities. Emile conducted the Commander of the "Champlain," Captain Guillard and his officers on a visit throughout the Iron Works. They were most interested in the construction in progress.

There was a cascade of events, poems and songs that became Emile's life. The newspaper reports of his performances continued to note Emile's skill, for" ...he still convulses his audiences with laughter."

Another annual fete was held for the French Benevolent Society at Odd Fellows Hall - again Le Pere de la Victorie followed by Le Cheve et Ie Roseau (the oak and the reed). Emile presented at a grand ball "Fresette et Briochette" and the laughter was uncontrollable. "La Gauloise" (a new society) presented Fortunia, a grand concert and ball, Emile sang La Pipe du Commandant.

The years had been busy ones for Emile bringing laughter to so many. He was bursting with talent. Yet, during the next few years he spent more time painting. I would imagine he was not in the best of health for in the ensuing years the paper did not note his contribution to the many affairs as they did in the past.

As you might expect, Emile used many models. I am sure there may have been one or two over the years that he became close to. There was such a girl that Emile thought a good deal of and considered her the best of his models. Her name was Charmain. She was very young, extremely quiet, and would pose for hours and remained perfectly still. One day while he was painting her Emile said "Charmian, why are you wiggling your nose?" Charmian replied, "Because a fly is constantly landing on it."

Emile laughed, "Let's take a break and go out in the garden to get a bit of fresh air." It was a beautiful day. Emile poured them both a glass of wine and they rested, listening to all the sounds of life about them. The roses on the trellis were in bloom and Charmian asked if she could pick one. "Of Course," he said. Charmian had never seen such a beautiful rose with soft cream centers that became a soft to darker pink at the full of the petal. They are called "Bella Portugal," he said.

Often at the end of the day, they had supper together if she had brought a chicken or some meat from home. It was very comfortable not to be alone. Often they would set up a table outdoors and after dinner Emile would light up his cigar. They relaxed completely in each other's company because they required nothing of the other. Charmian was fond of animals so one day he surprised her with a kitten. Emile placed the kitten in a basket just outside the door and waited until Charmian said, "Emile, do you hear a cry just outside the door?" Emile said, "no."

Really Emile, "I still hear it." So she got off the pedestal and opened the door. Taking the basket inside she removed the cloth covering it and there was an adorable white kitten. Charmian was thrilled when Emile told her it was hers. He said, "What will you call her?" Charmian said, "Cleopatra, because she will capture every heart."

One evening Charmian was washing dishes and one dropped to the floor. Both she and Emile were on their knees picking up the pieces. Their laughing faces were close together and they kissed each other unexpectedly.

Emile knew he could never commit himself to anyone. It still was and it ever would be Pauline. He had recently painted violets in memory of Pauline, and no one realized what he was thinking but Emile. "I love you still." He told Charmain this for he wanted her to know he could never make a serious commitment to her.

Emile was offered a trip to Tahiti with his son, Charles. He was retiring and it seemed a wonderful opportunity to see a different part of the world. He would be leaving in a few months and so he told Charmian. She knew he would never marry her and thought it best to make the break when Emile left on his trip. Charmian told Emile she wanted to find love and marry and so they said goodbye. Emile assured her if ever she needed help, he would always be there for her.

The sound was deafening, a great blast from ,the ships horn, the band played, people shouted, threw confetti and serpentine. The last of the goodbyes had been said as the ship pulled away from the pier. Charles, at eighteen, was in his glory. As they left the harbor, Emile couldn't help but remember the first time he viewed San Francisco, jumped ship, and swam ashore. So many things had happened since then and now he was taking his son on an adventure.

Tahiti was still very primitive. The English, Spanish and French among other nations had been to Tahiti and hadn't treated the people well. It is amazing that the Tahitians were still a laughing, loving people. The sailors in the port had brought venereal diseases to the island. Emile impressed Charles of the importance of this knowledge and was given the promise that he would not have any physical relations with native girls.

The Captain of the ship knew Emile and naturally my grandfather and father both sat at the Captain's table. It was a beautiful ship and the appointments in the dining room were outstanding. All things seemed huge from the large bouquets everywhere to the gigantic ice sculptures placed on the enormous hors d'oeuvres table. At the conclusion of dinner, the Captain asked Emile if he would "favor them with a song." Naturally grandfather did. He followed it with several pantomimes which were his specialty.

The trip was smooth all the way and the deck was the place to be in the sun either walking the deck and visiting, or relaxing in a chair and reading. Emile and Charles went below to the engine room and viewed the huge engine that propelled the ship forward. Quite a change from the old sailing ships. Naturally Emile was very interested in everything as he had spent his life designing such ships at the Union Iron Works.

What excitement it was when Tahiti was in view. The island was full of palm trees, ferns and white beaches. The natives were boarding their canoes in preparation to greeting the passengers. They carried leis and were willing to escort anyone ashore. Charles couldn't believe the spectacle before him. "Papa, these girls are not wearing any tops to their clothes!" "I know," said Emile, "None of them do it as, it is the custom." What a feast Charles had making comparisons!

One boat was larger than the others and had a chair on board. Seated on it was a very large man over 6 feet tall. He was their Chief and treated with respect. He greeted the Captain with a lei and took him by canoe back to shore. The others followed and all were given flowers and greetings of welcome. Introductions were made and the Captain introduced Emile and his son giving Emile great compliments as to his abilities. The chief spoke French which was pleasant for Emile.

The chief had a daughter named Anela (meaning angel) and she immediately noticed my father, Charles, for he was very handsome even though only 18 years old. Anela approached him and greeted him with a lei. There were no words exchanged but the expression in her eyes was enough. Anela had a beautiful tan face. with white teeth and dark brown eyes full of mischief. Charles "gulped" for the girls he knew in San Francisco were extremely proper and not forward at all. Emile saw to it that they were always in the company of others. Charles' favorite day was climbing to the top of the mountain and sliding down the waterfall. They were there about a week and the time went very quickly.

There was a feast the last night and all the ship's officers joined the passengers for the farewell party. The girls danced in a group and they were really lovely in the moonlight. They wore grass skirts instead of the cloth they usually wrapped around their waists. The leaves swayed as the traditional dance was performed.

Emile put on a show for them all. He performed in pantomime so the natives present, who didn't speak French, could enjoy it, too. They did and there was much laughter.

It was time for Charles to say goodbye to Anela and so he took her aside and removing his lei, he placed it over her shoulders and kissed her on the cheek. Anela in turn said, "Charles, I want to give you something to remember me by," and placed a pearl the size of a large green pea in the palm of his hand. He was speechless as he
realized its worth.

"Are you sure, Anela?" "Yes, I want you to have it."
My father kept the pearl and when he married my mother he had it made into a ring for her.
When I was 21 my mother gave it to me and I have now given it to my daughter, Sidni.

Upon Emile's retirement, he continued to paint and one evening he heard a gentle knock at the door. He opened it and there stood Charmian holding a little baby. She swayed on her feet and Emile caught her and carried her to the bed. Her face was like chalk and black circles surrounded her eyes. "Oh Charmain, you are so ill and so thin."

He opened a drawer in his dresser and took out clothes to make room for the baby. Emile had been eating a little soup and removed the vegetables just leaving the broth. "Eat this please Charmian." She tried but couldn't get it down. He said, " I will be right back." and left to get a doctor.

The doctor examined her and taking Emile aside told him she had tuberculosis and wasn't going to live long. Emile made her as comfortable as possible and holding her hand put her anxieties to rest. "Oh Emile, what will happen to my little girl?" "I promise you, Charmian, I will see she is well cared for." "Tell me, what is her name?' "I named her Violetta for in that name I held my love for you, too." With this, Emile raised her hand and kissed it tenderly.

There was a gentle breeze blowing outside and coming through the window, it touched her hair and caused the soft blonde curls around her face to move. Opening her lovely green eyes she smiled at Emile and died.

Emile was so moved by her he cried. He felt he would like to paint her. Then she would live forever. Emile went into the garden and picket "her" Bella Portugal roses and placed some in her arms. How beautiful she was at that moment. He would be able to give the gift of Charmian to her little girl.

Charmian had looked for love but did not find it. Instead she gave her love to a man who didn't deserve her, but Violetta filled the void in her heart.
Violetta was adopted by a young couple (friends of Emile), who were not able to have children. Violetta grew up a happy child indeed.

It was 1905 and Emile continued to be busy spending his time painting and more time with his son. San Francisco held fascination for them both and it was hard for Charles to realize that Emile was not getting about as he used to do. Emile had developed heart trouble and one day he just didn't feel well enough to go out with Charles.

"Just let me rest a little while, and we will go out as planned." "Rest here on the couch, Papa, and I will read to you a new book I'm reading. It's very naughty!" "Good!"said Emile. Charles said, "Papa, I love you." "I love you, too, Charles. Remember the true meaning of life is to forgive others, love them, and most of all make them laugh. Everyone needs some of that." "I will remember."

Even though Emile died before I was born, my father brought him back to life in the telling of the story to my sister, Lorraine, and me. I wish Emile had lived to have known me, too.

Emile Penez lived from 1850 to 1905 … Michelle Penez Thorndike lived from 1925 to 2002



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