Our Mothers Ourselves

Julie Andrews – She Is Our Sunshine – An Interview with Emma Walton Hamilton

October 04, 2020 Emma Walton Hamilton Season 2 Episode 8
Our Mothers Ourselves
Julie Andrews – She Is Our Sunshine – An Interview with Emma Walton Hamilton
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Our Mothers Ourselves
Julie Andrews – She Is Our Sunshine – An Interview with Emma Walton Hamilton
Oct 04, 2020 Season 2 Episode 8
Emma Walton Hamilton


"She is probably the most resilient person I know." -- Emma Walton Hamilton

This week, Katie talks with Emma Walton Hamilton, daughter of the extraordinary Julie Andrews, about her mom's difficult childhood and her determination to give her own children stability and, above all, constant love.

Julie Andrews's two memoirs, Home, and Home Work, are at once heartbreaking and awe-inspiring. While reading the books in preparation for the interview, Katie toggled between listening to Julie's narration, and reading. She was struck by how differently she absorbed the material depending on the medium. That is, when she heard Julie's familiar voice, so thoroughly had she absorbed the calming effect of that voice over the years, she found it hard to feel the darkness of the material.

Emma speaks about her mother's innocence, well into adulthood, a true surprise given the effect that parts of her childhood could have had on her.

Emma and her mother have written more than 30 children's books together, and they co-host the podcast Julie's Library.



Art by Paula Mangin
Music by Andrea Perry
Producer: Alice Hudson
Intern: Rosie Manock

Visit us at: Our Mothers Ourselves 

Dani Rucker generously supplied the beautiful rendition of You Are My Sunshine. Thank you, Dani!

Show Notes Transcript


"She is probably the most resilient person I know." -- Emma Walton Hamilton

This week, Katie talks with Emma Walton Hamilton, daughter of the extraordinary Julie Andrews, about her mom's difficult childhood and her determination to give her own children stability and, above all, constant love.

Julie Andrews's two memoirs, Home, and Home Work, are at once heartbreaking and awe-inspiring. While reading the books in preparation for the interview, Katie toggled between listening to Julie's narration, and reading. She was struck by how differently she absorbed the material depending on the medium. That is, when she heard Julie's familiar voice, so thoroughly had she absorbed the calming effect of that voice over the years, she found it hard to feel the darkness of the material.

Emma speaks about her mother's innocence, well into adulthood, a true surprise given the effect that parts of her childhood could have had on her.

Emma and her mother have written more than 30 children's books together, and they co-host the podcast Julie's Library.



Art by Paula Mangin
Music by Andrea Perry
Producer: Alice Hudson
Intern: Rosie Manock

Visit us at: Our Mothers Ourselves 

Dani Rucker generously supplied the beautiful rendition of You Are My Sunshine. Thank you, Dani!

Katie Hafner:

Hello, and welcome to Our Mothers Ourselves. I'm Katie Hafner, and I'm your host. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I think that what we could all use right about now is the episode you're about to hear. It's about a woman who's delivered a bounty of joy straight to our hearts, for half a century. Julie Andrews is luminous. My guest is her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, who co wrote her mom's two memoirs. In these two beautifully written books, Julie Andrews tells a story that will break your heart and give you wings all at the same time. Julie Andrews had a birthday this week. She turned 85.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

I'm so delighted to be here.

Katie Hafner:

She's so indelibly etched in my mind, and people all over the world as this very bright light. And I think that one of the reasons that we go to plays and we read books, and we go to movies is truly to project ourselves into that other world and onto others in that world. And when I was little, when I was about 10, I was thrust into a, a new and not very friendly, blended family. And I had just seen The Sound of Music, and had projected myself so ompletely into that. There's a cene at the end of The Sound of usic when Maria and the Captain ave just gotten married and hey come back from their oneymoon. And Liesl, the oldest, says to Maria, Liesl says, what should I call you? Should I call you mother? And Maria looks at her and says yes, call me mother. And it's so sweet. So I decided to do the very same thing at age 10. I said to my new stepmother, thinking about Maria and Liesl, I said, should I call you mother? And well, let's just say the results weren't the same. So I guess my question for you is, did your mother make it clear to you that what she was to you was someone very grounded in reality, that you were not the child of a mother in the movies.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

So that's interesting that you ask Katie because it was always apparent to me that her work as an actor was her work and her day job. And although I saw all those movies, I was never really c nfused about who she came home t at the end of the day, if you k ow what I mean. I had an i teresting experience with, in t rms of my relationship with T e Sound of Music. I as a young c ild, I couldn't watch it all t e way through and I would run o t of the room in tears because I couldn't bear to see my mother c y, on screen or off. And if y u recall, in that time, when s e goes, when she leaves the C ptain's home and she you know, s e thinks that he's getting m rried to somebody else. And s e goes back to the, to the onvent. There's you know, she's ery emotional, Maria von Trapp s and she's, she's certainly eeping and, and that was just agony for me. So it was a long time before I ever saw the ending of The Sound of Music, or at least the last quarter.

Katie Hafner:

Oh, wow. Because you thought that's not Maria crying. That's my mother.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

That's right. Yeah, that was where I had trouble differentiating, not so much in between the children and myself, but more in just, you know, is mom really crying? Or is she acting crying?

Katie Hafner:

Well, it's a hugely emotional movie, I have to say my husband who never cries, he cries only when we go to The Castro [[Theater]] once a year. We live in San Francisco. And it's The Sound of Music sing -long.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

Right.

Katie Hafner:

And he starts to cry.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

Awww.

Katie Hafner:

I now know that this is one of your mom's favorite scenes when the Captain hears the kids singing and he goes in and he, my husband starts to weep, and it's just the oddest, most poignant thing for me and I think you know, me and tens of millions of other people. I've always just thought of her as sweet and isn't that nice, and, and yet, there is so much sadness in her childhood. It's heartbreaking. Why don't you start and tell the story of your mom's childhood.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

Well, she was, she was born in 1935. And just before the war, the second world war in, to a very humble family in, in the suburbs in England. Her mother was a concert pianist, or aspiring concert pianist. She actually ended up in vaudeville and at a very, very early age. I mean, my mom's mom and her, her grandparents came from, you know, her grandfather was a coal miner. Her grandmother was a, was a lady's maid, a chambermaid. So there were very humble beginnings and my grandmother and her sister lost their parents very young. So my grandmother ended up sort of giving up her career as a concert pianist to raise her sister and married a local boy who offered some security and that was my mom's dad, the dad who raised her. In the very early days of her years of her life, her mother left my grandfather for another man, a tenor that she was traveling with touring in a company in vaudeville. She was playing the piano, and he was singing and they fell in love. And so my mom's parents separated. And from that point on, my mom divided her time between being with her mother and her stepfather and with whom she had a difficult, complicated relationship. He was a, he was an alcoholic. He was a difficult man, he was loud and overbearing.

Katie Hafner:

Ted Andrews.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

Ted Andrews, yeah and the man she knew of as her real father, although she would later discover that he was not her biological father. So my grandmother was quite a lady about town as you're probably gathering. And when my mom was in her close to around nine or ten years old, the war had started. And she, she was growing up in the Blitz, and it became apparent that she had this freak voice for her age, she had these adult vocal cords in a child's body. And because her stepfather was a singer, and her mother was a pianist, you know, they, they were interested to discover this, and they were interested to, to pursue it. And to see, you know, whether it was something that might lead to something for her. They were advised to wait as long as possible for my mother to have a childhood and for her vocal cords to develop and mature and so forth. But their needs were such that and she had a sufficiently extraordinary voice that in short order, they put her on stage with them in their act, and she became a child performer and through her teens, she performed in Vaudeville, and they toured all over the country. She didn't, she basic lly only had a schooling up to about sixth grade, because her, ecause she was traveling and ouring all the time, and also because of the war. And over the years, her parents, her moth r descended into alcoholism as w ll, both her stepfather and her other, and she became more and ore responsible for them and he caretaker she she acqu red two younger brothers, thre younger brothers, actu lly. And eventually she supp rted them and had to take over the title of their house. And his is all before she was 18. A couple of things really stood out for me, just to bring this across to listeners, just how poor they were. She has this one line in there, where she talks about how every day she and her brother would share a boiled egg. Yeah.

Katie Hafner:

So every day they shared an egg and then they would alternate. One day, one of them got the yolk and the next day, the other one got the yolk.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

That's right. And she's looking back, she says, I can't understand now why no one had the idea to just scramble the egg and divide it between us that way. But there you are. Her mother abandoned her basically to run off with this guy, Ted Andrews.

Katie Hafner:

And he it turned out, he also assaulted her. Her Yeah. mom, who really I guess protected her from this wasn't with them at one point and Ted Andrews and your mom went to perform. They go to some seedy hotel, there are twin beds, and then he says, why don't you just come cuddle with me? And then he says something like, why don't I teach you how to really kiss and your mom had the presence of mind? I don't know how old she was. But young.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

Yeah. Early teens.

Katie Hafner:

Early teens, just to get just to say, just no, absolutely not, and push him away. And then it, he did it again, got very drunk, came into her room, and she told her aunt who said, well, let's see what we can do about that and put a lock on her door.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

Yeah.

Katie Hafner:

And thank goodness that happened. Because who knows?

Emma Walton Hamilton:

Exactly right. Just what level of abuse could have taken place, but there are some, so there's a thread of resilience. There's a thread of a real fighter in your mom, but also there are these much more poignant threads which are of really vowing to provide and never to lose a home. That's right. Yeah. And so, so there's one point where she says that she could see just how for her mom and her stepfather, to home, hold together and hold on to this house. And she said I vowed never to lose a home. That's right. There's a really poignant moment in the first book when she was on a train traveling north, when by this point, I think she was about 14, and my step grandfather had deteriorated so far into his alcoholism, that he was no longer able to perform with them anymore. So it was just my mother and my grandmother traveling now. And my grandmother had some sort of emotional breakdown on the train on the way north to the next gig. And she wept the entire way, which was like a six hour train ride. And my mother remembers in that moment, in those hours, trying to, you know, help her mother trying to support her mother, trying to figure out what on earth to do, because her mother was so afraid she was going to lose everything, they were going to lose the house, what was she going to do about the little brothers, you know, and so forth. And my mom in that moment made the decision that she would be the one to take care of everybody. And she said to her mother, don't worry, mom, I'll take care of you all, I'll work as hard as I have to, I'll do whatever it takes to make sure we don't lose the house, to make sure my brothers are safe and can go to school and so forth. And that's pretty much the moment that she became, in a sense, the the, the wonderful, beloved, codependent caregiver that she has remained for the rest of her life. And that I think, you know, makes everyone feel like, well, can she take care of me, please? Can I have her as my mom to, you know, because that is something I encounter, wherever I go is people saying, wow, what's it like to have her as your mom, I always fantasize she would be mine. And I think that's where it was those early roots of feeling like she had to provide for her own mother that established that characteristic in her.

Katie Hafner:

Speaking of sentimentality, and a yearning for making a home, she the story of how she met your dad, I am not going to even tell it because people need to read this. And I'll only say that it involves Humpty Dumpty.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

They were childhood sweethearts. That's the-

Katie Hafner:

-That's the only thing we'll tell you.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

Yes. Yeah. And they end up, they end up getting married. Your dad is starting his career in the theater as a set designer, right? Yes, and costumes.

Katie Hafner:

And costumes. And so it's a heady time for both of them. They get married. I'll keep this short, they have you. And she is just, it's a whirlwind life. But there's always this sense. on her part, she talks a lot about feeling bad about not being home.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

Her mantra is, "are we lucky or what?" In fact, she considers herself very fortunate, which is ironic, given how challenging so much of her life has been. Oh, yeah, I mean, somebody else would have just, you know, folded up their chair and said, I'm out of here. And yeah, she she's, I mean, you use the word resilient Katie. And that's exactly the word I would choose for her. She is probably the most resilient person I know. And, and it's that, that has gotten her through. And I think it's that, that people respond to that sort of brave, she's, there's an innocence about her that you can see on screen. But there's also a bravery and a, and a determination and a willingness to be resilient and to make it through, you know. What is your earliest memory of her as a, as a mother, as a mother mother, and as a working mother? Mary Poppins was the first film she ever made. And I was just a baby at the time when the film was made, but because there were so many special effects and so much post production that had to happen, it didn't come out until I was about three years old. And when it came out, I remember being in a department store with my nanny, and they had a Mary Poppins themed display. And there was this life size cardboard cutout of my mom in her Mary Poppins costume in the children's section. And I remember pointing to it and saying, look, there's mommy. And then suddenly becoming aware of these two women looking at me and looking at each other and smiling and saying, isn't that sweet? That little girl thinks her mother is Mary Poppins. And-

Katie Hafner:

- oh.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

- And it was the first time for me where I suddenly thought, oh, but but but, but that really is my mommy, it's not Mary Poppins, I'm talking about you know. So that was one of the first times that I kind of really understood the nature of what she, she does. But she, she was incredibly committed to dividing her work from her family life. And she was incredibly committed to providing a family life for us. I mean, I very early on in my life, she and my father separated, although they remain very close friends. And they both remarried and I gained step siblings on both sides. And so I grew up after about the age of four, I acquired two older step siblings in my mom's household, and she was really committed to getting up early in the morning with us and making scrambled eggs, which she called a good protein breakfast before we went to school, you know, even if she had been night shooting the night before, or, you know, just to kind of put boundaries around home life and work life. And really making sure that her, you know, that her role as mom and as wife and as stepmom and all of that was, was her first priority to the extent that it could be under the pressures of her job.

Katie Hafner:

And, and don't you think it was in keeping with her determination to really make up a stable life for her own family having come from such an unstable-

Emma Walton Hamilton:

-Absolutely, absolutely. I know that that's, you know, I mean, again, you mentioned the book being called home. And the second book being called homework. I mean, home has been a recurring theme for her throughout her life and, and looking for home and wanting to feel safe and to create a place to put down roots and, you know, create that kind of security for her own family. Those have been the abiding themes of her life. So here's your mom, she achieves this tremendous success. And what she says every now and then in the book is I just wanted my own mother to be there for this opening, but she said her arthritis was too bad. And and then she says, but I, I guess some of it, or a lot of it had to do with how your mom's mom thought her own life had never amounted to anything, and that she had not realized her own dream of being a concert pianist. And it's heartbreaking when your mom became a mom. And this is sort of, I'm going to say just heroic efforts. I mean, there was so much flying around. Yes, indeed.

Katie Hafner:

From Switzerland to LA to London to New York, but she would, she would just surprise you for your birthday? At one point, she wrapped herself as a gift?

Emma Walton Hamilton:

Yes. That is true. Yeah, she'd been away. And I was in high school, and I came home and open my bedroom door, and there was mom sitting on the bed all wrapped up in, in wrapping paper and ribbon. It was a wonderful surprise. And then she, she writes often about how forbearing you were, how you kind of put up with a lot back and forth, and all the people and the step siblings and the, and that your dad's family in that part of your life. And she said she could tell that it took its toll on you. Yeah, well, you know, I don't think divorce and, you know, complicated additional families and family members and something I don't think that's easy for for any child really.

Katie Hafner:

And yet, she seems to have the gift of making you feel really special throughout. Is that to my reading-

Emma Walton Hamilton:

- She did yeah, you are absolutely reading that, right. I mean, I she and I have always had a very special bond. And you know, and as I said, she, she went out of her

Katie Hafner:

-Right- way to really be mom when she was home and when she could and,

Emma Walton Hamilton:

-What cards you're dealt but how you and I and often she would say things to me, like, I know, this is difficult, but I also know, you're my daughter, and you have play with them. my genes and we'll get through this kind of thing. And I think there's some truth to that. I also think that in hindsight, while it was lots of it was challenging at the time, in Well, I I had a sense that you were very much in her image hindsight, I learned a kind of flexibility that served me well in later life. You know, I mean, I went to because we moved around so much I went to a number of different schools. I was pretty much always the new kid. And, and that was challe ging at the time. But you know, nce I became an adult, it made m much more comfortable with c ange. I guess there's, I learn d at her knee there's a, ther 's a way to be resilient too eve because, because of what she would just talk about how you in the face of challenges. Not what- would take things on and that you were tender with your sister Amelia when she, when your mom and, and her husband, Blake, your stepdad, adopted her from Vietnam, and that just, that you were sort of the patient one and that you took care of things. It sounds like you have a lot in common. We did. We do.

Katie Hafner:

So, there's a wonderful thing in the book. I want to see if I can find it. Here it is.

Julie Andrews:

We spent three special days together, chatting shopping and going to the theater. We saw the original production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, starring Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury. And both agreed it was one of the best musicals we'd ever seen. Several songs, had us in tears. I always weep at Sondheim. It's the emotion in his music, the sheer brilliance of his lyrics, the essential truths he writes. He makes us see the best and worst in ourselves. During the song, Not While I'm around, Emma held onto my arm, and we both wept quietly. The lyric about protecting a loved one from harm, had so many overtones for us both. Of course, we later talked of all that had occurred in Los Angeles, and became emotional again, putting everything to rest as best we could. It was wonderful to spend so much concentrated time together, yet also deeply moving. I could hardly bear to say goodbye.

Katie Hafner:

I can just imagine. It's a first of all, it's a beautiful song.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

It is a beautiful song. And we're both I mean, pretty much anything by Sondheim will send us into either, you know, floods of tears or paroxysms of happiness and admiration or whatever. We're both total Sondheim freaks.

Katie Hafner:

I know, I just the lyrics, like how did he think of that?

Emma Walton Hamilton:

How did he do that? Yeah.

Katie Hafner:

Right. So speaking of singing, we'll just get this out of the way. It's like sort of a pro forma question that she gets asked often whether she sang to you as a child. And will you tell me what she, what she says?

Emma Walton Hamilton:

She did, but not the songs that people expect she might have sung for me and I get asked the same questions to you know, did she sing a spoonful of sugar to you? Did she sing you know, all of those songs and know that, you know, normally if you think about it, if you're a, you know, if you're a chef, the last thing you want to do when you come home from work is cook a family meal, you know, so what she sang was songs from her childhood, English, sort of body English campfire songs, or songs that had special meaning for us together, lullabies and songs like, you are my sunshine and I see the moon the moon sees me, you know, songs, little children's songs and songs from her youth that had special meaning for the two of us. What's a body campfire song? I don't know how much I can actually share on this but there's plenty of English wartime songs and body campfire songs. Things like, well this one isn't particularly body but any old iron is one any old iron any old iron any any any old iron. You know those kind, like Katie, give me your answer dear. Those kinds of songs. You know.

Katie Hafner:

They come from vaudeville, of course.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. She's sort of this wonderful combination of, of raunchy and prim.

Katie Hafner:

Right, exactly. Right.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

People always say to me, what is the you know, what's the thing about her that would most surprise you? You know, and and I always reply, it's, she's, she can swear like a trooper.

Katie Hafner:

Here's a slight variation on that question. What surprised you to learn about her when you were an adult? What sort of took you by surprise?

Emma Walton Hamilton:

You know, it's interesting, Katie, the thing, it's not that in working on these memoirs, it's not that there were any great revelations to me, you know, I knew most of the facts of her childhood. I knew all of the stuff about her mom and her dad and her, you know, her issues growing up and what it was like in the Blitz and the war and, you know, the, and so on. What surprised me was in working on the second book, because that's the book where I, I was alive throughout those times, and I have my own memories of those stories as well, was realizing how in a sense, young and innocent my mom was. Periods in my life where I thought she had it all together. So when you're a kid, and your mom tells you to do something, or makes a decision, you assume that well, they're grown up and they have all the answers and they must be right. So it was fascinating to me, and particularly in the process of writing together. One of the one of the things that I did was as she gave me free rein to read all of her diaries, her journals because after a certain point in her life, she became a really avid journal keeper. And it was fascinating to me to read how frightened, how confused, how blue, how innocent, you know, she was at a particular moment in time or many different moments in time when I thought at the time, she had it all together. You know, and of course, as an adult now with my own kids now almost grown kids, I realized that you never really feel like an adult and you never really feel like you have it all together, you know?

Katie Hafner:

Well, one thing that speaks too is just how determined she probably was to hold it together, impress you.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

Yes, absolutely. So speaking of writing these memoirs, it's, it's unusual to I know you to have co authored a lot together, especially the kid, the children's books, and I'm wondering if during the writing process, first of all, were there things where you where the two of you would really think hard? Like, how much do we say, did she call the shots was she sort of she made all the executive decisions on that? Yeah, there were quite a few things. And there were certainly areas that were really difficult to write about, you know, she's, she spends a lot of time in the second book talking about both. In the first book, she talks about her, you know, discovery that her father was not her biological father. And that was a difficult choice to make, and was not something she had really fully talked about with her siblings.

Katie Hafner:

You know, it also sounds like she hadn't talked about it much with herself.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

When she, yeah, I mean, she had to a certain extent, and she certainly had talked about it with me. But it was a you know, it was a visiting it really, really digging down deep and saying, okay, how much of this are we going to reveal and how much is not, is something that is just personal, you know, that was one area. Another area, of course, was the abuse from her stepfather. And then in the second book, she, she goes into quite some detail about my stepfather's issues with struggles with addiction. And that was another area where we really walked a fine line. And what I essentially said to her was, look, let's just put everything down, let's just tell the story. And then we can decide whether it stays or it goes. But in the end, she was incredibly brave. She was, you know, willing to put it out there, even though she was nervous about doing so.

Katie Hafner:

It's candid and respectful of everyone involved. And there's a really sweet thing where she says, you know, this man who actually, my biological father, he wrote to me many years later this man, and he said, you know, if you ever want to talk about it, I'd like to do that and I wrote back to him, and she didn't say this could open sort of a can of emotional worms for me, she said, it could lead to hurting the man I really love as my father.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

That's correct. Yeah.

Katie Hafner:

What a beautiful thought.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

Yeah, I mean, that, that moves me deeply. It really does because the, my grandfather, the man that she always viewed as her father, she never knew until after he passed away, whether or not he was aware that he wasn't her biological father, that she never asked him, it never came up. And he never treated her as if she were anything other than his beloved daughter. And when he passed away, sometime later, she had the courage to ask her aunt, if he had known. And her aunt said, yes he did. And he made the decision, that it didn't matter, that he would raise you as his own, as my mom says, in the book that knocked her sideways. That the selflessness of that act, and that's who he was, he was an extraordinary individual. So your mom, you and she fight never fought, don't fight? I mean, when I was in my teens, of course, we had our share of teenage mother daughter scuffles over, you know, my smoking or something like that. In our working partnership together, you know, we've written over 30 books together now, and we've performed together. On those creative situations, especially in the book writing situations, we do sometimes have, you know, a vibrant discussion about whether to, you know, whether, whether we should open the story this way or that way, or we seemed to both understand that the best idea wins. And so whenever we're in those situations where we are kind of working through something, if one of us says, I have it, it should be this and that's the best idea, both of us will recognize it and go, yep, that's it, let's do it.

Katie Hafner:

It sounds like you both know how to park your ego at the door.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

We do. I will say that's what, that's a big piece of it. And a big, another big piece of it is just mutual respect. I have so much respect for her as an artist. And the lovely thing is that she has respect for me as an adult creative person as well and we have very different but complimentary strengths. So, you know, I have, I have more formal writing training than she has now. But she has the great ideas, you know, she's the one who will wake up in the middle of the night and say, we need a duck in the theater in our, in our Netflix show that we did about children in the theater, you know? And and it's absolutely right, you know, I'm all the nuts and bolts and the structure of it. So how far apart from each other do you live now? Well, happily, she lives very close to me now. She's, she's moved pretty much as she still maintains a place on the west coast, because I still have siblings out there. But she spends most of her time here close to me. And we're, we are just a couple of miles away from each other. And it's lovely, although I have to say we've been working remotely for the most part just to protect each other, and -

Katie Hafner:

- you must text each other a lot.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

Oh, every day. I mean, we're on the phone or on zoom together, you know, every day and, and we you know, several hours a day working. And now that we're doing this podcast - - tell me more about the podcast. So it's just such a joy. The podcast is called Julie's Library. And it's a storytime podcast for families set in a library, which is my mom's library. And we read picture books, but we also have visitors who come and talk with us about the theme of the day of whatever the book is that we've been reading. So yeah, and then we went into lockdown, and we needed to continue recording, so our producers at American Public Media sent us equipment, and my son who's 23, and very technical, he's a filmmaker and an editor, set us up in our respective closets. So I know the, I'm sure you know this feeling right.

Katie Hafner:

I know the closet well, yeah.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

Exactly. So this is pretty much where we've recorded the entire podcast from, is our closets.

Katie Hafner:

That's hilarious.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

And then we bring people in on the show, and they're in their closets, you know

Katie Hafner:

I love it.

Emma Walton Hamilton:

Yeah, it's, it's funny.

Katie Hafner:

So you touched on this a little bit. But if you had just one word to describe your mother, what would it be?

Emma Walton Hamilton:

Well, I said resilient as one of those words, but since I already use that, I'll give you a second one. And it's, I was gonna say loyal, but I think I'll say devoted. She, everybody who knows her knows that once you've made a friend of her, she's a friend for life. She is profoundly devoted to the people that she loves and loyal to the people that she loves and works with. So her Christmas card list just gets bigger every year. You know, she's, she is so amazingly devoted. And it's, it's a lovely thing to see.

Katie Hafner:

So last question, I promise, which is, what would you say her legacy will be?

Emma Walton Hamilton:

She would say that she hopes her legacy is that she will have brought joy to people's lives, but I hope it's also about the music, about the art and the creativity that she has, that she continues to contribute to the world. You know, all the songs and the films and the stories and the various different creative ways she's brought those, those stories to, to life, the degree to which creativity is a solution to life's problems, and the priority she made that in her life. Well, Emma Walton Hamilton, I would like to thank you so very much. It's my great pleasure, Katie. Thank you. Lovely hour. And that's it this week for Our Mothers Ourselves. Our theme music is composed and performed by Andrea Perry. Paula Mangin is our artist in residence. Rosie Manock is our intern and the show's producer is Alice Hudson. Our Mothers Ourselves is a production of Odradek Studios. I'm Katie Hafner, and I'm your host. One last thing, when Emma said her mom sang, You Are My Sunshine to her when she was a little girl, I asked her if she and her mom would sing a duet of that song for us. She said her mom stopped singing many years ago. So we asked a friend Dani ucker, to put something ogether for us. In honor of ulie Andrews, and the great other that she is.

Danny Rucker:

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You'll never know dear how much I love you, please don't take my sunshine away. Please don't say my sunshine away. Happy birthday, Julie.