Nobody escapes scrutiny in this Christmas column.
The Ellis Island record of my father’s arrival in the U.S. – his last name was “Wray” then – says he arrived from Hamilton Bermuda in 1923 at age 26. The record clearly states that he was born in Barbados, so until I found these columns I was not sure what the Bermuda connection was. Now I know! He worked for the Bermuda Colonist and Gazette, a daily, while there.
In addition to learning little known facts about my father, I’m learning things about other people I’d never heard of. Bernarr Macfadden (1868-1955) was an internationally known health crusader who promoted exercise and natural foods and natural healing. Nicknamed the “Father of Physical Culture,” he promoted fasting and a healthy sex life. Founder of a magazine publishing company, Macfadden Publications, he wrote more than 100 books, including several on marriage. Macfadden was married to Mary Williamson Macfadden, a former champion swimmer. She was 19 and he was 45 when they were married. They had seven children. Bernarr and Mary separated in 1932, and the public airing of their marital difficulties apparently inspired my father to write this column, quoting some of Macfadden’s own words on love. After the couple divorced in 1946, Mary wrote a tell-all book titled Dumbbells and Carrot Sticks.