Mary Hingley, 1916-2007

Phil Ford

My grandmother, Mary Hingley, climbing in the Swiss Alps some time in the 1930s. She died yesterday at 91.
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She was one of those fearless, indomitable grandmothers who appear only in children’s books. In addition to being a serious mountaineer (she was the first woman to do some of the most difficult climbs in the Alps), she was a great horsewoman. One of my favorite stories about her tells how she was trying to ride a particularly wicked horse (appropriately named “Chance”) which bolted and tried to throw her off. She had a grip of iron, though, and finally the horse gave up, threw itself down on the ground, and rolled on her. She broke four ribs and a collarbone, and as she was being wheeled into surgery one of the nurses said something like “well, Mrs. Hingley, I don’t suppose you’ll be riding again.” “Nonsense! Of course I will!” she rumbled. There are probably not too many grannies who rumble, but she did. She had a stentorian voice, which my daughter appears to have inherited; when she called from England, she would address the telephone like a sailor hailing the shore in a gale — you could hear her voice coming through the phone receiver clearly from the next room. She was a very kind person. I have a tape from when I was 9 years old, interviewing her during one of her visits to Canada. I sounded sort of like Gavin from Kids in the Hall, but I love her tone of grave attention, the way she enters into a child’s fantasy of doing a radio interview.

About Phil Ford

Chairman of the Committee for the Memorial to the Victims of Modernism
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2 Responses to Mary Hingley, 1916-2007

  1. Edmonston Alston says:

    Sorry about your grandmother, Phil. The taped interview was lovely.

  2. Kip W says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your loss. It’s nice that you have the tape. Photos are nice, but hearing a voice is special.

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