Today was a very special day after a very horrible burrito. I lit up a smoke started walking towards Emerson. There I saw an unusual shop. There I met Pat Bartevian.
Started by Pat’s father Gregory Bartevian, Bartevian Inc has existed at the same place on Boylston St. for over 100 years. Gregory was an Armenian and U.S soldier who fought for the U.S in World War One. Walking in to Pat’s store is like walking into a time warp. On one side, you see Boloco, the other side you see the brand new Emerson dorms. And there imbetween, is Pat’s store, Bartevian Inc. When you walk in the door Pat buzzes you in, and makes you feel right at home. I felt like I needed to talk to her. I was fortunate to film her, and what can only be explained as a most amazing life.
Here is my first interview with her, I had to run because I had to be back at Emerson.
On my way to meet author Destiny Kinal, who wanted to interview me about mental illness and writing, I stopped back in and talked to Pat again. Pat told me that Pat’s Great Grandfather, was an Armenian merchant who lived in the city of Lakevan in 1900. This was before the time of the Armenian Genocide. Her father fought in WW1 after fighting against the Turkish Genocide. Pat, please forgive me, if I get any of this wrong. During World War 1 Pat’s father Gregory was a signal corp and protected the port in Boston.
Pat’s dad Gregory, started the business and it has existed over 100 years. Her father once said to Pat that “No other country gives a citizen the opportunity of freedom to make something out of themselves like America.” Imagine that her father fighting in the Armenian Genocide, and then after immigrating fought in World War One to show his love for the country that gave him the freedom to live his dream. His dream, to start a non-profit family trust.
Being a poet I asked if Pat was or is a writer. She told me that her mother was a poet laureate at Oberlin College, in Ohio. Gregory wrote historical Armenian poetry, and published for the Mirror, an Armenian newspaper. Pat came from creativity. And I guess it makes sense why after graduating from Emerson with a Degree in Theater, that she would move to Hollywood. Now, what I am about to say is going to astound you and motivate you. Basically, its going to blow your freaking mind.
After graduating from Emerson in 1944, with a theater degree, Pat Bartevian and her sister Priscilla moved to Hollywood. There they acted and performed under the name “The Hickory Sisters”. She starred in numerous films including “The Emperor’s Waltz” and used to rub elbows with the likes of Bette Davis and Roy Rogers. I couldn’t believe it, but then I saw all her publicity photos. Check this out.
Today I walked into a store to get past a bad burrito, and met someone so amazing that her story must be shared. Pat is now 84 years old. Her sister Priscilla passed away four years ago. I am so glad I met Pat. I am so glad she let me into her world. I am so glad she gave me time to talk to her and write this piece for her. I guess the angels on the ceiling should have clued me in that I had walked in somewhere very special. And in what I hope many years from now, those angels will meet again, and dance together as they once did, in a Hollywood Cantene, humble as ever.