Arts and Crafts Fair featured artist: Barbara Marriott

Author Barbara Marriott with her new book Paint ‘n Spurs

Author Barbara Marriott with her new book Paint ‘n Spurs

Barbara Johnson

First of all, a trivia question – Do you know that there was a very famous hotel very nearby and it was the most luxurious hotel for miles around and was frequented by foreign royalty, celebrities and dignitaries? Do you know where it was located? Okay, that was two questions, but to find the answer you need to ask our SaddleBrooke author Barbara Marriott.

I’ll come back to the questions, but first I’d like to give a little background on Barbara. She was born and raised in Nutley, New Jersey where she went to college and had a dual major in English Literature and French. She worked as a copyright editor for several magazines including Vogue. She met and married her husband Mike while in New Jersey and after one year of marriage he joined the Navy. This is where her real adventures began. Mike was sent to France where they lived on the French Riviera for a year and a half. She said she wasn’t very fluent when they went there, but after living there that long I can assure you she is “au courant.”

Barbara can tell you that life for a Navy wife is not what you’d expect. Even though they are assigned to a base, they then must travel by ship or air (Mike was a pilot) for long periods of time – as in six to nine months or longer. Therefore, the wives and children were left on base alone. It was very important that these wives form alliances with each other so that they could serve as support and advice sources for each other. Barbara also had received a degree while in college in Oklahoma in Human Behavior and her PhD. in Florida was in Cultural Anthropology, so it served her well when she did her Doctoral Dissertation on the co-oping of military wives. With her writing background, she was a logical choice for writing a newsletter for the wives’ group (called the Distaff Dispatch). Even though the subjects were mainly on such topics as updates on the Soap Operas, she discovered that she could do some research on other subjects as well. As a matter of fact, she became interested in dispelling some of the accepted beliefs on some of the history of military uniforms, ships and aircraft and that was the start of her first book. They traveled quite a bit more with Mike’s various assignments, so she also was able to do a lot of delving into cultural customs and practices.

After retiring from the Navy, they moved to SaddleBrooke 20 years ago. Barbara was instantly fascinated with the West and wanted to learn more about its history and the people who inhabited and formed it. Thus, more research – this time into our very surroundings today. This, of course, led to many fascinating discoveries and she has written several books on these discoveries. As to the questions at the beginning – she told me the answers, but I won’t divulge that information. To find out more, you’ll have to talk to Barbara or read her book, Annie’s Guests. She also has a new book that will be available at the next Arts & Crafts Fair in March. This new book is called Paint ‘n Spurs and it is about the Cowboy Artists of America. As she says, they are different from western artists who paint images of the West. These cowboy artists are those who have lived the life, ridden the range and made a good hand. This new book is definitely a must-read! She claims this is her last, but who knows?