June, 2012

A Conversation With Barbara Bardin: From Corsetiere to Restaurateur


Anyone fortunate enough to encounter Barbara Bardin will find the experience life altering. No one escapes her demand for perfection, nor her childlike delight for hardy celebration. Any shyness or resistance from you will quickly disappear, as she delightfully encourages professional excellence and playful, creative partying.

Famous among her friends for her generosity, her passion for Veuve Clicquot champagne, fine food and an outrageous flair for adventure, it is no surprise that Bardin has achieved success in several businesses. Bardin is the founding owner and restaurateur of Splash! at the Boathouse Marina in Burlington, Vermont’s only restaurant directly on the magnificent shores of Lake Champlain.

Bardin began her career as a long time bra-fitter at the retail lingerie store, Bertha Church. Later she founded Let’s Pretend Catering, and became a renowned events planner. She opened Splash! in 2003 with no formal food or business background.

Barbara’s catering and restaurant success is grounded in sheer chutzpah, guts, talent, creativity, brawn and savvy smarts. Let’s Pretend provided Bardin with a platform for drawing on her remarkable creativity. Many Vermonters can attest to her company’s elegant wedding receptions, formal corporate and non-profit events, with their themes ranging from Frankenstein to Dickens, from medieval to Moroccan, complete with appropriate costumes and props; the more unique, the better. Barbara rose to each and every occasion.


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Barbara Bardin

Louisa Drury: Her Living “Midnight in Paris” Adventure


Imagine that it’s a summer evening in 1952, and you and a tall, handsome man are strolling Paris’s romantic Left Bank. Your companion is an exquisitely educated New Yorker named George Plimpton. He is just a few years older than you. Neither of you is married, nor is he yet the famous literary wit he would one day become. He has recently brought you on as an unpaid volunteer to help sort out the office at the newly founded literary magazine, The Paris Review.

You and he have just shared a liter of wine at the famous Café Deux Magots, and he walks you past a curious-looking place on a cobbled side street. “Men go in there,” Plimpton says, pointing. “The women strip you, and then you lie on a couch. They rub chocolate all over your body and lick it off. It is a wonderful feeling.” “We didn’t go in,” recalls Louisa, whose blonde hair has turned white, more than 50 years later. “But he was certainly not prudish. He was fun, humorous, witty, broad-minded and not at all snobbish.”

Born in 1929, Louisa Drury (née Noble) of Stowe is a Vermont treasure, a walking, talking literary museum. You would never guess that she is on the other side of 80. Her intelligent, sparkling blue eyes, alto voice and artistic dress are those of a much younger woman. Yet she remains just a degree of separation away from the Who’s Who of expatriate, avant-garde artists and writers who loitered around the Left Bank in 1950s and 1960s Paris, where she lived, worked and raised a family from 1952 to 1968.


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Louisa Drury

Vermont Filmmaker, Camilla Rockwell:
Media Age Children's "Nature Deficit Disorder"


For those of us 40 and older, who grew up in rural or suburban areas, our childhood memories of outdoor play go something like this: We'd roam our neighborhood freely looking for adventure, build a fort in the woods, hunt for critters, play make-believe games with birch bark or acorns or mud, climb trees and fall from them, jump into a game of stickball or four-squares or hide-and-seek, spend time with a book or just alone with our thoughts.

We had spontaneous interactions with other children and adults. We'd spend hours without any contact with our parents, as long as we were home in time for supper. For better or for worse, much of our time was unscheduled and unmonitored. And yes, there was risk inherent in our play.

With the proliferation of cell phones and computers, organized playtime and sports, and the fear of "stranger danger," all that has changed.

Today, youth between the ages of eight and 18, according to a Kaiser Foundation Study, may spend as much as eight hours per day in front of a screen, whether a television, computer or a video game. The cultural term "helicopter parent," now part of our vernacular, describes a mom or dad, who hovers protectively over today's child, reducing the possibility of physical or emotional injury.


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