The day our Great Aunt Simone Vanophem Shaw was born, her father dunked his finger into his glass, pressed it to his baby’s lips, and pronounced, “May you always have a taste for Champagne.” And Simone always did.
Having escaped the German invasion of Belgium, Simone grew up stylish, worldly, and headstrong. At her father’s Jualin Mine in Alaska, the miners picked berries for her and a Chilkat Indian chief asked for her hand in marriage. In Paris, she was sometimes found in the company of a cousin who was a pretender to the French throne.
After the war, father and daughter moved to New York City apartment, where Sim met the man next door, Sam Shaw, Jr., son of Samuel T. Shaw, co-owner of the Grand Union Hotel and a world-famous art patron. The two were soon known as “Sim-Sam.”
Simone, as we remember her, wore dungarees, tended her garden, swam in ice-cold waters, and warbled a devastatingly accurate grouse call. For special occasions, which were frequent, she opened her cedar closet full of furs, and donned white gloves, heels, and pearls. We are certain that she would approve of our venture.