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Bolling Byrd Clarke on: Her Father's Absence
Bolling Byrd Clarke Q: How long was your father away at a time and wasn't it more normal to have him gone than at home when you were little?

BBC: From the time that I could remember growing up, he was away which seemed like all the time and actually he was 1925 at the Macmillan Expedition; 1926 was the North Pole; '27, the Transatlantic flight; '28-'30 the first Antarctic Expedition; '33-'35, the Second Antarctic Expedition. So, that there was no time between trips for his family except a little bit here and there. Between the first two Antarctic expeditions, he spent a great deal of time making the money to pay back his debts for the previous expedition and preparing for the next expedition, as well as taking lecture tours across the country, in order to make money to pay for those expeditions. So, when he was home, we saw very little of him and he fit us in, as best he could in his very hectic schedule. For instance he would call us in when he was shaving in the morning and we had a little, I could remember sitting on the edge of the bathtub and chatting with Dad as he shaved and then he would ask us to go for walks with him, which was one of his favorite forms of exercise and where he did a lot of his thinking and a lot of sharing together, with his family.


Q: How did you, as children accept his absences? What was your kind of understanding about why he was away and why that was important?

BBC: I think we took it, we took his being away for granted, like this was a normal thing for a father to do, until we got a little bit older and found that other children's fathers stayed home and of course we were quite envious of that.


Q: What's your memory of the 9 Brimmer Street? Was it kind of a busy, active, noisy place or quiet? What was your sense of your household that you grew up in?

BBC: 9 Brimmer Street was a very quiet house when my father wasn't there. But, when my father returned from his expeditions, it was just the opposite. I really loved it. It was exciting and there were all kinds, he had his headquarters there on the first and second floors and there was always something going on with many members of his expedition. I remember them splicing film together and I remember my sneaking down the backstairs just to look at the film. It was wonderful.

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