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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Eulalie Salley, September 15, 1973. Interview G-0054. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Faith Baldwin and a mysterious foreigner

One day, a mysterious foreign woman moved to Aiken who befriended only Salley. Salley speculates on the woman's true identity, the reasons for her secrecy and the possibility of an international scandal.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Eulalie Salley, September 15, 1973. Interview G-0054. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

CONSTANCE MYERS:
Mrs. Salley, tell me some of your recollections of Faith Baldwin.
EULALIE SALLEY:
The most interesting person that I knew intimately who came to Aiken was a German baroness who called herself Madame Adele von Loesecke, though that was really not her name as I found out later. She spoke frequently of Faith Baldwin and Mrs. Auer Anchor. She was very secretive about where she had been and where she had lived and what she was to those two women. They were not related to each other but she had not been a governess to them yet they had been in her care. At that time Faith was just beginning to write and she would send her writings to Madame Von Loesecke to have her criticize them.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Do you remember how this woman spelled her last name?
EULALIE SALLEY:
L-O-E-S-E-C-K-E. Madame Adele von Loesecke, but that was an assumed name. I never knew what her real name was.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What was her living style in Aiken?
EULALIE SALLEY:
That of royalty.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Can you describe it in some detail?
EULALIE SALLEY:
She had the most magnificent furnishings in her house which were sent here from Germany. She had silver with huge crests on them, magnificent linen. Her table arrangements for the luncheon were done by her German butler. It would be a big mound of flowers with fluttering butterflies all over it. The butler collected butterflies and he would mount them on the finest wires and as he moved about the table these butterflies would flutter in the air. I've never seen anything as exquisite. He waited on the table in white kid gloves.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
And you had lunch with her every Thursday?
EULALIE SALLEY:
Every Thursday. I was the only guest who was ever invited to the house.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
She was in seclusion.
EULALIE SALLEY:
She was coming to my office occasionally but the understanding was that I was never to introduce her to anyone. She never met anybody.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What was her relationship to Faith Baldwin?
EULALIE SALLEY:
I never knew but I have Faith's letters saying, "I can tell you that I lived with her for a number of years. Then she used to take me abroad. But there are two years in her life that I cannot tell you about. That is a closed book." So I never knew what happened. Then, all of a sudden, she called me one day in great distress and said, "Come to me. My butler is going to kill me." She had a Swiss nurse and a German cook. Then she had this butler. I don't know what Coastal was.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
You called him Coastal? His name was Coastal?
EULALIE SALLEY:
We called him Coastal but we really never knew what he was. I went immediately over there and he said, "Madam is indisposed. She cannot see you." I said, "Coastal, I must see her." He said, "You cannot." My husband was a lawyer and I went back and I said, "What must I do? Madam Von Loesecke called me and asked me to come over and told me her life is in danger. And I want you to go over there with me, see what we can do." So we went over and Mister Salley got the sheriff and we took him on. We met Coastal at the door and we said, "Something is going on here. We don't know what it is. We're not accusing you of anything but we're warning you. If anything happens to Madam von Loesecke, you are entirely responsible for it. And the house is being watched." In a few days she left.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
What became of her estate?
EULALIE SALLEY:
All of her things were packed up, crated and shipped to Germany. She went to New York and took a small apartment there and just as she was crossing the street, soon after she got there, she was knocked down and killed by a taxi.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
How eerie. It's both eerie and melodramatic.
EULALIE SALLEY:
I always believed that that man did it.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did you have any correspondence with Faith Baldwin about this episode?
EULALIE SALLEY:
I had a letter from her not long ago when I was writing my book--I keep saying that, when Emily was writing this book. I wanted to put her in there and I wrote to Faith and I said, "What can you tell me about Madam von Loesecke? She was such a mysterious character." She said, "I lived with her when I was a little girl but there are two years in her life that I cannot tell you about. About her end, I can say nothing."
CONSTANCE MYERS:
How mysterious.
EULALIE SALLEY:
I believe that she was a member of the royal family who was in hiding. That's what I believe.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
The environment that she maintained for herself supported this belief fully.
EULALIE SALLEY:
Yes. She was a beautiful woman. She held herself like a queen. She had that bearing and her manners were so exquisite. You knew right off that she was not an ordinary person. She lived in such secrecy.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Did knowing her affect your life in any way?
EULALIE SALLEY:
No, I was fond of her and I was distressed at her end. But it confirmed my belief all the more that she was royalty and it was some political reason that had exiled her.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
I wonder how it is that Faith Baldwin spent years of her childhood with this woman?
EULALIE SALLEY:
I don't know.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
A mystery.
EULALIE SALLEY:
Some day Faith Baldwin is going to visit me, she told me that she would, and she would tell me more but she couldn't tell me now.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Where does she live now?
EULALIE SALLEY:
She lives somewhere in Connecticut. I have her letters downsairs on file. I've had two letters from her.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
How did you meet her in the first place?
EULALIE SALLEY:
Madam von Loesecke?
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Faith Baldwin.
EULALIE SALLEY:
I never met her. When Madam von Loesecke came here, she was brought here by a woman equally as fascinating. She called herself Mabel Anchor and she was married to a first cousin of the king of Denmark--Auer Anchor. She was the one that bought the house and equipped it and brought all these servants here and they stayed here a while. I knew them very well. She was the one that payed all the bills and stood for everything that she wanted. On her birthday--she called her Auntie but I know she was no relation--she said, "May the fifth will be Auntie's birthday. Go to Augusta and buy the finest Cadillac they have and give it to her as a birthday present." And things like that Mabel did. Suddenly, Mabel disappeared. She spent a whole winter and then she and Auer disappeared and I never saw or heard of them again.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
The entire situation is mysterious, isn't it?
EULALIE SALLEY:
Then the whole matter just closed, shut right down. When I started this book and wanted to put something in it about Madam von Loesecke, the most mysterious person who ever came to Aiken, I remembered so many times she mentioned Pussy, as she called Mrs. Anchor, and Faith. She always spoke of Faith's writings and that she was going to be a great novelist.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
How old was Faith in those days?
EULALIE SALLEY:
I don't know.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
It was before her career . . .
EULALIE SALLEY:
She was a young woman. She was just beginning her writing career and she would send her first stories to Madam von Loesecke to correct But I imagine she was a very young woman. She had lived with her for two or three years. She lived with Madam von Loesecke.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
Under what circumstances and why we don't know.
EULALIE SALLEY:
She didn't say. She said, "I wish I could tell you but I can't."