Unforgettable Enid

A Remembrance by Sylva Baker

In 1975, the Bakers moved into Wallingford. Almost immediately Enid and I connected and it was so natural that I don't recall how it happened. But we recognized our kindred spirits and enjoyed a supportive friendship for the next thirty-three years. Being new in Wallingford and unsure of its resources, any time I was going to make a major (and some minor) purchase or needed something repaired or any one of countless little aspects of living I would call Enid and she knew just what to do and where to go. And she was always right.

During these early years, I was the library director of the Academy of Natural Sciences which had an important collection of rare books. Enid was creating the artists' books that were a vehicle for a talent of artistry and, equally, literary knowledge. It was a joy for me to chat about aspects of bookmaking and possible library collections that would be appropriate for them. Each book became a work of ingenuity in subject and design in one phase and attention to the mechanical aspects of type and paper that were the lithographic phase. I could stop into her studio on Sykes Lane where she would show me a page or two and explain at what stage the book was in. The production of these volumes required diligent attention and review for possible errors. The entire process seemed designed for Enid's multi-talents. And just as Enid was the creator of the ideas and their commission on paper, Gene ensured that the books were packed and mailed to the many library collections where they remain. To distribute books of atypical size was the unglamorous but essential work that Gene relieved Enid from dealing with.

Shortly after we met we realized that Enid and Gene and David and I were married on the very same day: June 13, 1954. The Marks were married in New York and the Bakers married in Philadelphia but we came to celebrate our anniversaries together for many years. We happily went out to dinner together and celebrated our good marriages.

And we celebrated our children, often. Peter is the same age as my son, Joe. Melanie and Julie became classmates in the 11th grade at Nether Providence High School when we moved in. Other interests never superceded Enid and Gene's love for their children; something I could well understand and we were united in our concerns for them.

In 1984, we realized we each had made plans for a trip to Italy over the same period. The Marks were starting in Milan and making their way south to Rome while we were beginning the trip in Rome heading to Milan. In comparing our itineraries we saw that we would overlap two days in Florence. So we arranged to meet, we had some lunch and dinner together and we went to the Uffizi together. Walking through that art gallery with Enid as a guide, explaining what was significant in those renowned paintings was surely the highlight of that trip. When we all returned to Wallingford we had some wonderful stories to share.

Enid was very generous to me with her advice and ideas. I was truly in awe of her talent and self-discipline. Everything that she did was done well and in excellent taste but she was never judgemental of others. I often asked her advice which she gave me freely and in good spirit. She had an enormous range of interests in literature, art, décor, politics and the life of the community. She and Gene had loyal and devoted friends in many communities and they brought them together in delightful parties in their home. One had to be impressed that this productive artist could also manage an elegant domicile. Her dinners were a blend of flavor and presentation that she seemed to produce without any sweat. The sale of the home on Sykes Lane and the renovation of the new apartment near Rittenhouse Square received energy, imagination and attention to detail; attributes that I suspect Enid could not help but do; such was her nature.

I think about Enid often. In my living-room there is a large collage that she made during a period when she was working with photography and woven paper. I am drawn to it every time I am in that room. It has humor, color and originality and I think of those things when I think of Enid. I look at it and I see her smile and hear her laugh and I miss her.

Sylva Baker
Januaary 20, 2009