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Merci Lyna. “And to her thorn she gave a rose.”

Merci Lyna. “And to her thorn she gave a rose.”

posted on Monday November 7, 2011 | in The Basin Jamet | 6 Comments

Whenever she was asked about her start in the world, the legendary saloonkeeper Bricktop—born Ada Smith—replied:

On the fourteenth day of August 1894, in the little town of Alderson, West-by-God-Virginia, the doctor said, “Another little split-tail,” and on that day Bricktop was born.

T. S. Eliot later added, “…and on that day Bricktop was born. And to her thorn, she gave a rose.”

Bricktop is a not a familiar name to most people today, though the crumbs of her extraordinary life are indispensable to the telling of a certain moment in the history of Americans in Paris and café society everywhere. Woody Allen’s latest movie, Midnight in Paris, could hardly recall the days of Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, or the Fitzgeralds without Zelda crying, “Let’s go to Bricktop’s!”


Photo: Balenciaga SS12 Vogue.com




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  1. Lyna (Reply) on Monday 7, 2011

    De rien.
    Wondering what could be Bricktop today…
    We would probably dance and dance and dance in some underground Cafe to the sound of Florence and the Machines.

  2. Safs (Reply) on Monday 7, 2011

    <3 this post! Thank you for sharing!

  3. FashionProject9 (Reply) on Monday 7, 2011

    Bricktop was such an intriguing and courageous person. It’s so great to see a post about her!


  4. mikeijames (Reply) on Monday 7, 2011

    thank you for this fantastic post and link about bricktop….i never heard of her before you!!

    • shala (Reply) on Monday 7, 2011

      Isn’t that amazing? I hadn’t either. “The last shall be first”

  5. Idreaminchanel (Reply) on Monday 7, 2011

    History is so important. I just unearthed a small bit of mine with this discovery of Bricktop. Thanks Shala!!

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