Owen-005.jpg (91507 bytes)Owen Kiralfy

Owen Kiralfy was the grandson of Imre, son of Edgar Kiralfy and Anita DeBeers.

Although Owen was technically a "collateral," he had a big influence on my family.  Handsome and charming, he was my mother's second cousin (Owen's father Edgar and my grandmother Edith were first cousins).  Sometime in the late 1940's he came to visit America.  He visited the Norris family in uptown Manhattan.  The very first memorable event took place when they offered him a snack.  "Oh, a banana!" he exclaimed (fresh fruit having been a scarcity in England during and after the war), and the family watched in amazement as he peeled the banana...and flung the peel out the window!  Right onto Riverside Drive!  He noticed their incredulous stares and suddenly realized what he'd done.  He explained that while on shipboard they got used to tossing things out the porthole.  He was a bit abashed and was more careful about flinging his food in future.  Of course, with his charming English accent, he was forgiven everything!

Owen-MN002.jpg (78778 bytes)Owen-GN003.jpg (162657 bytes)The Norris cousins, Grace and Marianna, gave him the grand tour of Manhattan.  These are pictures from some of their excursions around town. 

I'm not sure how long he was in town, but it was long enough for both cousins to be besotted by him.  Years later, the poem Recuerdo by Edna St. Vincent Millay reminded Marianna of Owen's visit:

We were very tired, we were very merry, 
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry. 
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table, 
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon; 
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon. 

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear, 
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold. 

We were very tired, we were very merry, 
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, "Good morrow, mother!" to a shawl-covered head, 
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read; 
And she wept, "God bless you!" for the apples and pears, 
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

After he returned to England, he continued to correspond with Marianna.  In 1952 he told her of his adventurous plan - to work his way around the world!  She received occasional letters describing his exploits - working on a film in Italy and washing elephants in India, among other occupations.  In 1954 he disappeared in Indonesia - only his clothes were found on the beach.  Romantic theories abounded, including the idea that he was a "free spirit" and had chosen to disappear and that one day he would turn up again.  Alas, to this day no charming Englishman has emerged from the jungle.  But stories about the romantic and dashing Owen Kiralfy continue to this day, at least in our family.

(click to enlarge)
Owen-Ladies004.jpg (157231 bytes)

Owen with his aunts Mamie and Nellie, and mother Anita.


Notes for Owen Kiralfy (son of Edgar Kiralfy and Anita DeBeers):

Owen was born in 1916 in England and died in 1954 in Bali, Indonesia.