At the age of 92, Bette Hammel looks back at a life rich with humorous incidents and meaningful encounters, capturing the flavor of the post-war advertising world and the excitement of modern architectural design. One of the essays describes how meeting and marrying the architect Richard Hammel changed her life. In another, she touches on the strokes of luck that helped her inveigle her way into Grace Kelly’s wedding with the Prince of Monaco in 1956. During skiing trips to Europe Bette was swept into sundry adventures including an unforgettable evening spent with a reporter friend in East Berlin. (That took some pluck!) And while traveling in Spain with two other American women, she received an unexpected invitation to dine with the owners of a large estate beyond Madrid where a young matador was practicing with bulls raised for the ring.
Of equal interest are Bette’s adventures in the Betty Crocker kitchens, her weekend producing a TV ad on the North Dakota prairies, the pleasures and challenges of raising her daughter, Susan, becoming a grandmother, and sailing with friends along the Dalmatian Coast. In one chapter Bette shares some of her favorites among the Twin Cities buildings she has gotten to know well while interviewing the architects involved and writing articles for Architecture Minnesota and other magazines.
From 1993 to 2017, Bette Hammel wrote articles for Minnesota AIA (American Institute of Architects) and also for Architecture Minnesota, Midwest Home Design, and Architectural Record of New York. The Minnesota AIA has presented Bette with two special awards for enhancing the public’s understanding of the vital role architecture plays in our community. She is the author of From Bauhaus to Bowties, Legendary Homes of Lake Minnetonka, Legendary Homes of the Minneapolis Lakes, and Wild About Architecture, and she also contributed substantially to Great Houses of Summit Avenue and the Hill District. She lives in Wayzata, Minnesota.