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Family Album: Mitchell-Smart

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Location: [unknown]
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This is an album of photos and memorabilia of the relationship and marriage of Julie Katharine Mitchell and Christopher James Smart, including their two children, Alexandra Lindley Smart and Avery Harrison Smart. All of the accounts in this album are by the mutual recollection of Julie and Chris unless noted otherwise.

Contents

Years 1995-1997

Dating

Looking Out of Sequoia, Potomac River, Georgetown.
Julie and Chris met on the outdoor patio of a restaurant known as Sequoia, on the banks of the Potomac River, in Georgetown, 14 Apr 1995. Julie at the time worked for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and resided at 817 North Jefferson Street in Arlington, Virginia. Chris was a lawyer at the D.C. law firm of Arent Fox and resided in a second floor apartment in D.C. at 311 Fourth Street, S.E. Chris has been tutoring inner-city kids in algebra, and he shared a classroom with a fellow tutor, Leslie Goff. Leslie happened to be Julie's great friend and roommate. Chris co-directed social functions at his law firm, and, this particular Friday in April, he'd made plans for friends to gather at Sequoia. He invited Leslie. She brought her roommate. Chris remembers sitting at the end of a long table, looking down to the right, at Julie. When it came time to leave, he offered to walk her to her car, drapping his jacket over her shoulders. When he got home, his two cats inquired why his palms were sweaty.


Lebanese Taverna, Woodley Park, DC.
Chris invited Julie initially to functions with others. His office mate, Jonathan, had a crush on Julie's roommate, Leslie, and so the four of them would hang out. Later, Chris asked Julie out, alone. One memorable evening began with a dinner at Lebanese Taverna, at 2641 Connecticut Avenue, NW, in the Woodley Park neighbor of Washington, followed by a show at the Kennedy Center. Chris had purchased the tickets without much thought, just hearing that what was playing was an award winner. Seemed like a lock. As (bad) luck wouldn't have it, the tickets were for Angels in America, a play dealing with AIDS and death. Not what he'd wanted for a romantic date. He drove her home and leaned over to kiss her goodnight. He got only a cheek.



Music of the Time

Driving home, Chris resigned himself to give up. Julie, it seemed to him, didn't seem interested. But Julie reached out, and they continued dating, finally kissing for the first time on the National Mall, near the Lincoln Memorial, 3 Jul 1995.[1] She introduce him to her family at Thanksgiving that year, in Crozet, Virginia, and she met his parents the following year.[1] Julie and Chris continued to regularly spend time with mutual friends, at bars and restaurants and other social gatherings. They also took trips with those friends, including rustic camping adventures on the Shenandoah River, west of D.C.[1] The music of this time seemed confined to the bands, Counting Crows (in particular, their album August and Everything After) and Dave Mathhews (in particular, his band's Under the Table and Dreaming).



Engagement

Chris distinctly remembers when he first knew he wanted to propose to Julie. They'd spent a weekend at a swanky retreat sponsored by his D.C. law firm. He dropped her off and was heading down Interstate 66, still in Virginia but heading for D.C. Playing on the radio was a song called Dreams, by the Cranberries. He said aloud. "I want to marry this girl."

Scarred by the Angels in America failure of 1995, Chris felt he must aim big with his proposal. As he began to lay his plans, Julie started her graduate studies at the University of Virginia, in Crozet. She relocated to what had been the home of her grandparents and great-grandparents, in Crozet, Virginia, just outside of Charlottesville.[1] During the week, Julie took her classes and studied, and Chris worked as an attorney, but, virtually every weekend, the two of them taking turns driving between her home in Crozet and his home at 311 Fourth Street, S.E., in Washington, D.C., five hours, roundtrip, each time.[1] On his trips, he'd turn off the radio and begin to memorize the poems that, in time, he'd recite to her, in person. He also began the poem that he planned to recite, the one that he'd propose that she marry him.

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Tape[2]
On 14 Nov 1997, a weekend Julie was to drive up, Chris asked her to dress for a show at D.C.'s Kennedy Center, and asked her to meet him ("and friends") at the restaurant at which they'd met in 1995, Sequoia.[1] She arrived fashinably late. From the small, round, candlelit, white-clothed table, secluded at the very end of the upstairs balcony, Chris looked down from the window to see her, adorned in her black cocktail dress, running in her heels. He smiled. She sat down breathless. Not to worry, he said. The friends would meet them at the show. They had time. He ordered her a drink and pulled out a small, blue, leather-bound album, setting it on the table. He said that he'd like to recite to her a poem, which he did. He asked if she'd like to see what was in the album. "Yes," she said. "Maybe later," he, said, "we've got to leave for the show." The Kennedy Center was closeby, but Chris told Julie there was construction and they'd have to go over the Potomac River, into Arlington, and come back over the Memorial Bridge. He drove them, but as he rounded toward the approach to take the Memorial Bridge, back into D.C., he said to her, "You know, Julie, if you really want to see a show, you don't go to the Kennedy Center." He reached into his jacket, pulled out a cassette tape of Sinatra, keyed to start exactly at New York, New York, and just as he inserted it, he veered to the right, to the exit to National Airport, and said, "You go to New York."

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He said nothing more. He just cranked the music and let Sinatra take over. Julie initially assumed he was kidding. But not after he pulled into National Airport and parked the car. "No way!" she said, grinning. The flight landed at New York's La Guardia, and Chris hailed a taxi. "Ritz Carleton, Central Park South." They checked into their room but, before going up, he turned to Julie, saying, "Come on. There's somewhere we need to be." "Where?" she asked. "We'll see." They got into a cab. "Driver, Empire State Building, please." She smiled broadly, and said, "What could be better, snow?" And at that moment she looked down at his hand holding hers, and by unbelievable luck, just then, it did start to snow, and before she looked up, he snapped his fingers and said, "How's this?"

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Arriving a few minutes later at the Empire State Building, they found its observation deck closed, because of the snow and low clouds. "Not to worry," he said. "We've somewhere else we need to be," and he hailed another cab and said, "Rockefeller Center, please." They had a window table at the Rainbow Promenade bar, part of the Rainbow Room, on the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller Center, overlooking the Empire State Building. As they dined on oysters, he recited from memory another poem. But no proposal. Back to the hotel. The next evening they took in sites, and then found themselves at Times Square. "How about a show?" Sounds good, she said. He pulled from his pocket tickets to Phantom of the Opera, having no idea until much later that Julie had once imagined her future husband would propose to her during a performance of precisely that musical.

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Cafe des Artistes[3]
After the show, Chris and Julie made their way to One West 67th Street in Manhattan, to Café des Artistes. "The restaurant first opened in 1917, at street level of the Hotel des Artistes tower. ... The restaurant's famous murals... were painted by Howard Chandler Christy."[4] Chris had planned the reservation many weeks in advance, coordinating with the staff a private table. There were signals, too. The wait person knew exactly when to bring the champaign. In the end, it came down to his poem, the final lines of which were, "be true my love, and marry me." And she said, "yes, I will."

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That night, they returned to their hotel room and began making calls, call after call for hours. The next morning, Chris and his fiancée, and Julie and her fiancé, met Chris's two sisters and their husbands for brunch. Then the couple returned to the hotel, checked out and, before departing for the airport, took a carriage ride through Central Park.

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Years 1997-1999

Planning

Julie, Tortola, 1997[5]
While planning the wedding, honeymoon and where they'd live, the bethrothed began vacationing together, alone, most notably taking two trips to the Long Bay Beach Resort, on Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands.




Beach at Long Bay, Tortola[6]
Sunset at Long Bay, Tortola



Wedding

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Julie[7]
Julie[8]
Wedding Invitation


Julie with Maiden of Honor, Bridesmaids[9]
Julie, Her Mother & Maiden of Honor, Leslie
Julie & Her Mother, Bonnie



Julie Peeking into Sanctuary
Julie Talking to Flower Girls[10]
Julie with Maiden of Honor, Leslie



Julie & Chris, Newlyweds
Julie & Chris, Newlyweds
Julie & Her Father



Julie & Chris, Newlyweds
Julie with Maiden of Honor, Bridesmaids[11]
Chris, Julie & His Groomsmen[12]
Chris, Julie & His Family[13]





The saga of the lost ring... In transit between the dressing room and the back door of the sanctuary, the wedding ring that Chris was to slip onto Julie's finger dislodged from the pillow shown and landed in the gravel driveway. It would not be found until the following day (by her brother, Brian), and Julie would learn of that by a late night call in a bedroom in Rome, Italy.

Julie Searching for Lost Ring
Wedding Rings, Before Ceremony
Julie Being Comforted[14]


Reception

Newlyweds Dancing
Newlyweds Cutting Cake
Newlyweds Kissing


Julie Serenaded by Groomsmen[15]

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Honeymoon

Tape
Chris planned the honeymoon in secrecy. Engaging his desire for creativity, he did the planning without the help of any travel agent, researching and making each reservation directly, himself. Despite a number of inventive ruses perpetrated to trick him into divulging his plans, no one, not even Julie, was aware of the plans, other than that the destination was warm and required a passport. On the morning the newlyweds arose after their wedding, they attended a breakfast with family and then drove off to catch a flight out of Dulles International Airport. Leaving Charlottesville, Chris stopped at a music store and purchased a cassette tape. As they continued their drive, he said to Julie, "Now you'll learn where you're headed, Ms. Smart," and inserted the tape, "Dean Martin Sings Italian Favorites." At Dulles, they boarded Air France for an all-night flight to Paris, connecting there to an early morning flight to Rome. Julie slept, but Chris, mesmerized by his new gold ring and what was his first and, as of 2021, only trip to Europe, not a wink.

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Rome

First Hotel[16]
Hotel Bill[17]
In Rome, they spent the first two nights of their honeymoon in the premier second floor suite at the Albergo del Sole al Pantheon, a 25-room boutique hotel reputed to be Rome's oldest, dating to 1467,[18] whose front rooms, including theirs, overlook the Pantheon.



View from Room
View from Room
Lunch by Colosseum
Dinner at La Rosetta[19]


Positano

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On the third day of their honeymoon, 1 Jun 1999, the newlyweds traveled by train to Naples. Chris, being intrepid and adventurous, and despite warnings of the city's crime, rented a car and drove his bride about an hour and half south, around the Bay of Naples and down the Amalfi Coast, on a harrowingly-narrow coastal highway, to Positano. Famous for its spectacular setting, iconic Positano and its white, pink, and yellow structures rise vertically from the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea, trapped by the peaks of the Lattari Mountains that hug the shoreline and, like a wall, isolate the village.[20]


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Chris and Julie checked into Positano's Palazzo Murat. "Formerly the private residence of Gioacchino Murat, king of Naples and Napoleon’s brother-in-law," the small hotel "has the mark of aristocracy—white-walled interiors are outfitted with elegant antiques, oil paintings, and decorative tiled floors—but also the welcoming atmosphere of a dear friend’s home."[21] "The 18th-century villa is tucked away behind cascades of bright bougainvillea and greenery-filled grounds fragrant with jasmine and citrus trees yet centrally located in Positano’s pedestrian zone, making it an ideal base for shopping holidays and seaside idylls alike."[21] John Steinbeck wrote, “Positano bites deep.” It does.

Julie on Room Balcony
Bride's Hotel Room
Bride on Room Balcony
Dining at Chez Black[22]


Newlyweds Above Positano
Dining at O'Capurade
Dining at Buca di Bacco[23]
Dining at Le Sirenuse[24]

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Rome

Hotel d'Inghilterra[25]
Balcony
On June 11, 1999, Chris and Julie checked out of the Palazzo Murat and drove their rental car back to Naples and boarded a train to Rome. For the final two nights of their honeymoon, they checked into Rome's Hotel d'Inghilterra, about a four-minute walk from the Spanish Steps. The room itself was, compared to their prior rooms, and despite being more expensive, a bit of a disappointment, but, being on the hotel's top floor, it had a great balcony. The last two days in Rome included visits to the Spanish Steps, _________________,
Newlyweds on Hotel Balcony
Dining at Ristorante Myosotis




Years 1999-2003

Years 2003-2021

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5
  2. This is an image of the cover of the cassette tape, Frank Sinatra-Duets, which Chris had carefully keyed to "New York, New York."
  3. Wikimedia Commons contributors, "File:WSTM Team Boerum 0072.jpg," Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, used under license here. Accessed 13 Jun 2021.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Café des Artistes," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (accessed June 17, 2021).
  5. Photo by her then boyfriend, Chris.
  6. This is the beach at the resort at which Chris and Julie stayed.
  7. One of the portraits of Julie taken shortly before her wedding.
  8. Scan of photo owned by profile managers, Christopher Smart and Julie (Mitchell) Smart. No commerial use allowed.
  9. _____________________________
  10. Julie is speaking to her flower girl and soon-to-be niece, Jessica Smart, who is standing next to Julie's older flower girl, Katie Gaffney, who is the daughter of the wife of her brother, Jim.
  11. __________________________
  12. _________________________________________
  13. _________________________________________
  14. _______________________________________
  15. L-R: Eric Smart (Chris's brother), Ock Peterson (Best Man, Chris's Stepfather), Rob Smart (Chris's brother), Julie (Mitchell) Smart, Brian Mitchell (Julie's Brother), Brad Larson (Chris's old college friend), Jim Mitchell (Julie's Brother) and Mike Watt (Chris's old high school friend).
  16. Arrows show the two windows of the room.
  17. Arrows show the two windows of the room.
  18. "Famous former guests include the 16th century Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto, King Frederick III in 1469, and 20th century literary icons such as Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre." Source: Nights of the Past: The Guide to Historic Hotels in the UK, Europe and USA, available online, as of 15 Jun 2021, here.
  19. The restaurant is located at Via della Rosetta, 8, 00186 Roma RM, Italy. As of 16 Jun 2021, it's webpage is here.
  20. More about the village, including its history, can be found here: Wikipedia contributors, "Positano," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (accessed June 16, 2021).
  21. 21.0 21.1 AFAR, "Palazzo Murat," available online here. Accessed 16 Jun 2021. See also Hotel's Website, here. Also accessed 16 Jun 2021.
  22. Restaurant's website, as of 16 Jun 2021, here.
  23. Restaurant is in the hotel by the same name. Website, as of 16 Jun 2021, here.
  24. Restaurant is in the hotel by the same name. Website, as of 16 Jun 2021, here.
  25. Chris and Julie stayed at this hotel for two nights of their honeymoon, June 11-12, 1999.




Collaboration
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