Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Bill & Julie James

Bill &
Julie James


Honored July, 1991

William 'Bill' & Juliana 'Julie' James

The walls of Julie James' El Castillo apartment provide a glimpse of two artists, who, for half a century, shared their lives and their love of painting.

"Bill painted these portraits and abstracts," Julie said. "This is the portrait he painted of our daughter, Sara. Bill's work was exhibited in a small gallery in Woodstock, Vermont."

Bill and Julie met as neighbors in Vermont and married in 1945. Julie's two sons, from a previous marriage, David and John Borden and three children of their own, Nathaniel (known as Spook), Sara and Jemima made for a large and lively household, passionate about painting, music, storytelling and entertaining. It was a rich and fulfilling life.

The family shared another interest Ñdowsing, the search for hidden objects by means of a forked divining rod or a pendulum, that swings significantly in reply to well phrased questions. Bill learned this ancient skill from "an old country man back in New Hampshire, and used it to find objects friends had lost. "More often than not it worked," according to Julie.

The grandson of philosopher William James and great-nephew of author Henry James, William ("Bill") James was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1913. "I lived in New EnglandÑMassachusetts and New HampshireÑfor the first years of my life," he said. "I went to a lot of different schools, which maybe was a mistake because you never got continuity." He attended Le Rosey School in Switzerland, the Lenox School in Massachusetts, Exeter in New Hampshire, and graduated from the Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs. "I never was anywhere where I felt so at home and comfortable as in the Rocky Mountains. I loved it. I came down to Santa Fe twice to visit--in 1931 and 1932Ñto see what it was like." Bill also studied art at the Boston Museum School of Fine Art and at the American Academy in Rome.

Julie was born Juliana Holden in 1913 in Old Bennington, Vermont. "My mother, Florence, was a housewife and mother," she said. Her father, Clarence Holden, founded the Bennington Scale Company, but the business folded. "Despite the business setback, we had a wonderfully secure childhood. The world was a different place in those days."

Please see Volume 1 for complete text.
Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes