My dad told the one in which Lawrence’s widow Frieda and her Fascist Italian army officer lover left Lawrence’s ashes at a railway station platform in an excess of passionate disorganization. Some of the other stories are below.
- LAWRENCE was buried in the old Vence cemetery on a March 1930. His remains were exhumed in March 1935 in the presence of Mrs Gordon CROTCH, an English resident, and incinerated at Marseille on March 13. A wooden box holding a sealed zinc container in which were his ashes, was then delivered, together with the appropriate transatlantic transport authorization by the Prefecture, dated 14 March, to the former captain of Bersaglieri Angelo RAVAGLI, at that time the factotum and lover of Lawrence’s widow. His mission was to take the ashes to Taos (New Mexico) in “a beautiful vase” specially ordered by Frieda for this purpose. The ashes brought to Taos by RAVAGLI in grotesque cicumstances were cast by him into the concrete slab of a “shrine” which he built at the KIOWA ranch at San Cristobal near Taos.
- When Baron de HAULLEVILLE and his sister-in-law Rose NYS-de HAULLEVILLE (who knew Ravagli through the Huxleys) were Ravagli’s guests atTaos, Ravagli after partaking from a bottle of bourbon, confessed late one night to having dumped the box and ashes between Marseille and Villefranche (where he was due to sail on the Conde di Savoia), so as to avoid the expense and trouble of transporting them to the USA. When in New York he collected Frieda’s vase, mailed “to be called for” from Marseille, and put into it some locally procured ashes which he took to Taos.
- The following year Frieda had his body exhumed, cremated and the ashes brought to Taos. Her plan was to have the ashes housed in an urn in the memorial but Brett and Mabel Dodge Luhan wanted to scatter the ashes over the ranch (while Lawrence was alive the three women often competed for his attention). In response, Frieda dumped the ashes into a wheelbarrow containing wet cement and exclaimed, “now let’s see them steal this!” The cement was used to make the memorial’s altar. There are other stories concerning the whereabouts of Lawrence’s ashes but this one is the most widely accepted.
Oh Frieda. Oh Captain Ravagli. Oh dear.