By Tara Marsh
Photos by Michelle Schleich
Looking around the arid and dusty landscape, watching people come and go on the other side of a wire fence, four-year-old Paul asked his father, “Why are those people behind fences?”
“No, son, those people are not behind a fence, we are,” his father replied. That is one of the memories Paul Grayber holds on to from his early childhood spent in an American internment camp in Texas that housed Japanese, Germans, Italians, and South Americans during World War II.
Paul was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to German immigrant parents. The oldest of three boys, Paul and his family were picked up by the FBI in January 1943, leaving nearly all their belongings behind, and taken to Crystal City, Texas, where they lived in the internment camp for the next two years. “I used to crawl underneath the wire fence and steal grapefruits off a tree,” Paul remembers.
The Grayber family, along with hundreds of other detainees, were treated well, he said. But the feeling of restriction was real. “The freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of everything was curtailed because we were imprisoned, really,” he said.
By late 1944, Paul’s father was offered a deal. The family could either choose to be exchanged for captured American citizens being held in Germany or remain in the internment camp. Many years later, Paul still questions the irony of that offer. “Exchanging Americans for Americans.”
“My father decided he didn’t want to be behind barbed wire and took the deal. That was a big mistake,” Paul said. They boarded a Swedish ship in January 1945. After sailing for 11 days, the Grayber family disembarked in Marseille, France, and traveled by train to Switzerland to be processed into Germany. They moved in with Paul’s maternal grand parents in a tiny cabin in the mountainous region of the Black Forest.
Years of battle had devastated just about every corner of the country. There was very little food, no jobs, no
“For the next five years, there was nothing,” Paul said in a somber voice. “You have no idea what having nothing means. With three small boys, it was tough.” In the summer of 1945, just a few months after the war
in Europe ended, Paul’s father set off to Stuttgart to find employment, taking young Paul along. The pair hitched a ride in the back of a truck, but about 10 miles down the road they were stopped at a French checkpoint.
“After the war, Germany was divided into four different military zones,” explained Paul. The Black Forest was in the
French zone, the north was the English zone, east Germany was controlled by the Russians, and the south was in the hands of the Americans. Paul and his father were taken into a small chapel. Standing in front of the altar was a French major in full uniform. Speaking in broken German, the major asked who they were and where they were going.
Paul’s father handed over his identification papers and explained the situation. When the major asked who the boy
was, his father replied, “He’s an American citizen. He’s my son.” To that, the French major spat on the papers and tossed them to the floor. “Mah!” he shouted. “America! No good!”
“Here he was, wearing a uniform that the Americans gave him along with the Colt .45 on his hip,” Paul said, shaking his head. “Americans saved France and supplied them. I don’t know why he had that attitude.”
At that time, Paul explained, the French military would capture any males who were walking around loose and
send them off to the French Foreign Legion. Because Paul’s father was only a legal immigrant to the United States, not a full-edged citizen, he was vulnerable to the volatile political situation at that time.
“The major told my dad, ‘Thank your son. He’s an American. If it wasn’t for him, you’d be going into the French
Foreign Legion.’” Paul and his father were finally sent on their way. He spent the remainder of his childhood in Stuttgart, eventually returning to America when he was 18.
In 1947, not too far away from Stuttgart, Marie-Florence Gimel was born in the small village of Cruseilles, France, in Chateau de Pontverre. Her childhood surroundings were idyllic, just minutes from Annecy, also known as the Venice of France, and Talloires, a picturesque village on the shores of Lake Annecy.
“It is a beautiful, beautiful place,” she said. “Surrounded by the French Alps.”
She was the youngest child of renowned French expressionist painter Georges Gimel. “I came from a very interesting family, but I didn’t know it at the time,” said Marie-Florence. Her father was part of the French Resistance and compiled his art and writing about the horrors of war and the efforts of the Resistance in a book titled Le Calvaire de la Résistance (The Calvary of the Resistance).
When preparing to share her story, Marie-Florence dusted off her copy of the book and opened its pages, briey.
“I never looked at the book because it’s very sad. The war was such an atrocity. I’m too sensitive for that. I can’t read those things,” she said.
The next few years working and saving money to achieve her childhood dream: to travel the world. To kick off the adventure, she and two friends took advantage of Greyhound’s promotion at the time: 99 days for $99. With nothing but their backpacks, the group tra-
versed the United States and Canada. The year was 1968. Later, the three friends embarked on a trip around the globe, visiting just about every Asian country, the Middle
East, and Central and South America while meeting remarkable people along the way.
“It changed my life,” said Marie-Florence. “It changed my approach and attitude to life. My dream was always to travel. I was not book smart, but I was street smart. As a student, the only subject I was good at was geography!” she said, laughing.
But perhaps for her father, who was in his mid-40s during the war, putting together the images and words was healing. After the war, fellow artists in his circle, including Monet and Picasso, traveled to the south of France to focus on their art, explained Marie-Florence. “My dad would say to them, ‘While you guys went off to paint flowers, I was at war. After the war, there is no way I can paint flowers.’ That is why he made this book,” she related.
Her older brothers now own Chateau de Pontverre and their father’s original work and are renovating the chateau with the intention of creating a permanent museum of Gimel’s work. Her father died when Marie-Florence was 14, but before his death he made it a point to introduce his daughter to the wonder of art. “He took me to the Louvre, but he didn’t want me to tour the whole place. He said only take it in a little bit at a time so I wouldn’t forget anything,” she said.
After working as an au pair in England and Holland, Marie-Florence arrived in Los Angeles on her 20th birthday.
The journey wasn’t always postcard perfect. "The Middle East was particularly dicey and dangerous, she said, especially for women. Women had to be escorted by a male everywhere they went and not be seen alone.
“But it taught me how to handle just about any situation,” she said.
Around the time Marie-Florence was earning her stripes as a world traveler, Paul was immersed in the world of show business and modeling in New York. In 1966, Paul had a part onstage in an opera at the Metropolitan Opera House, standing next to Placido Domingo as the famous singer performed.
Paul spent many years modeling for renowned designers,including Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, and John Weitz. By the 1970s, he had made his way to Los Angeles, where his rugged good looks landed him spots in Western-themed commercials. He became pals with Tom Selleck and appeared in one of the last episodes of Magnum, P.I., titled “L.A.”
Marie-Florence returned to Los Angeles and was one of four managers of a restaurant near Universal Studios. Running into Hollywood celebrities was a regular occurrence, but Marie-Florence wasn’t too interested in the world of show business.
“I never recognized anybody,” she said. “All the waiters and waitresses were aspiring actors and couldn’t believe I didn’t know many of the celebrities who would frequent the restaurant. They would say to me, ‘You French people are really out of it!’”
Fate was starting to close in for Paul and Marie-Florence. Their paths, unique and colorful on their own, were about to cross. Marie-Florence, now a single mother of an 11-year-old son, had just ended a tumultuous relationship with a Hollywood screen-writer and was burning off steam at the YMCA.
Paul just happened to be exercising nearby and noticed the petite blonde and wondered why she wasn’t home watching the Academy Awards. Paul struck up a conversation, but Marie-Florence wasn’t interested. “I was so sick and tired of men. He asked me if I had someone and I said yes because I didn’t want it to go any further,” she said with a laugh.
Later, Marie-Florence was back at the YMCA and pointed Paul out to a friend. “What?!” the friend exclaimed, not under-standing why Marie-Florence wasn’t interested in the handsome gentleman.
“My friend said to me, ‘I wouldn’t mind waking up to a man like that!” she recalled.
Eventually Marie-Florence agreed to a date. But there was one very, very important catch—her son.
“Paul really connected with my son Philippe. That was very important to me. It was my priority. They bonded so well I told Paul, ‘You married me because of my son,’” she said. Paul and Marie-Florence were married in 1989, and it didn’t
take long for them to set out on an adventure together.
In the early 1990s, they accepted an offer to manage a hotel on the island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean and off they went, along with young Philippe.
It was the idyllic island life for a few years, but as Philippe got older, Paul felt that the young man needed more structure than the lax island life could offer, so they returned to the States.
Paul and Marie-Florence traveled up the coastline from Los Angeles to Portland, exploring and contemplating their
next adventure. Paul had a friend who lived on a ranch in Wamic, Oregon, and he suggested they consider Bend.
The Graybers fell in love with Central Oregon and its snow-capped mountains and bright blue skies. In yet
another stroke of fate, or perhaps even luck, they were strolling around downtown Bend and saw that the Romantique Boutique was for sale. (Coincidentally, Marie-Florence’s maternal grandparents had been instrumental in starting the world’s first “department” store, a place where a myriad of wares could be purchased.) Making another leap of faith, they bought the business. The year was 1995. “I did not inherit my father’s gift of artistic ability, but I always found my creativity in other ways, mainly fashion,” said Marie-Florence.
Settling in Bend and owning an upscale women’s boutique was a perfect fit. “It’s not easy for visitors to come into a former lumber town and find high-end fashions for women,” said Paul. “But Marie-Florence was able to accommodate the fashion market here—half of our clientele are from out of town and make it a point to return.”
You never know who you might meet in Bend. On any given day, you may and Paul and Marie-Florence Grayber
are in Romantique, greeting visitors with an old-world charm and genuine warmth that hint at their rich story and the
winding path that brought them here, together.
I am a born and raised Central Oregonian with 20 years experience as a clothing boutique owner, seamstress and alteration specialist. I discovered my passion for design from my grandmother who was a professional seamstress and tailor, she taught me everything she knew! So in 2013 I took the leap and made A Better Alteration my main focus with its own location and brand.
A Better Alteration is a premiere tailoring and alteration boutique located on Wall St. in Downtown Bend. A Better Alteration is a professional and contemporary sewing studio. We raise the bar and provide every client with a personalized experience specific to them. Our contemporary staff has an eye for what’s on trend and will collaborate with each guest to make their vision come to life.
I take pride in my modern approach to tailoring. With an eye for what is on trend, I have a talent for seeing what a garment can become. I have filled a niche in my local community and currently work with multiple stores, dry cleaners, and hotels around town.
Outside of the shop I am a mother to a college student, a Superhost on Airbnb, and I enjoy Crossfit to start my days. I am driven by creativity, challenges, and hard work. I love living and working in beautiful Bend!
Forge Humanity, was founded in 2016 with the idea that “we might not be able to help everyone, but everyone can help someone!” Owners and Founders Amy Farkas and Tiphane Townley ( and their two pups, Foster & Maximus).
Giving back isn't just our passion, it's who we are. Every company we carry has a social mission. You walk away knowing that your purchase has purpose.
We believe love and charity have no borders. We work with companies from all over the world that focus on fair trade practices, environmentally conscious and affecting the world positively! We know Forge Humanity existence is not singular, it is part of a bigger system of people, values, communities, organizations and nature. We want to thank you, for believing in and being part of our conscious, sustainable business. To truly generate change, it takes a great deal of commitment and joining forces. Thank you, for being on this journey with us and Forge Humanity. "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Mahatma Gandi
Keep up to date with Forge Humanity, and their new and changing product lines by connecting with them on Facebook and Instagram, and make sure to visit their store at 126 Minnesota Ave in Downtown Bend.
Lauren Kelling, owner of Oregon Body and Bath, loves spending her days in Downtown Bend. When she’s not skiing Mount Bachelor with her family, you will find her catching up with long-time shoppers at her shop, which has been open for 26 years, or helping out-of-towners select the perfect keepsake from their visit. A proud member of the vibrant downtown business community, Lauren enjoys the sense of camaraderie she feels with other retailers downtown, all of whom help make Bend the amazing place it is.
My name is Suzanne Molt and I am the owner of Arrange, an interior design and home furnishings studio located off Brooks Alley in downtown Bend. I believe our environment is essential to our well-being. We all have a life story and I believe our home is the setting to our story.
Mixing new with old, finding meaning and purpose in every space is what I specialize in when working with clients in their homes. Everything we surround ourselves with should be authentic, practical and beautiful. In the shop I aim to provide items that support this philosophy. A bit of timeless French mixed with Pacific Northwest style is our look. Come by and see us soon!
I am the owner of Cowgirl Cash, a Western Vintage Boutique on Brooks St.. My mom is a past Deschutes County rodeo queen, and my grandparents always lived close. My grandma taught me to sew and my grandpa, always so sharp in cowboy boots, a hat, and a rodeo buckle, taught me how to ride. My Dad is an avid outdoorsman. Growing up we camped, hunted, fished, cut firewood, hunted for arrowheads, and explored all areas of Central and Eastern Oregon. My little shop is a reflection of my native Bend roots. I attended the University of Oregon after graduating from Bend High. I then went to Gemology school. Buying and selling great jewelry and cool Western Vintage is never boring. I love the customers that not only buy from me, but also sell to me. I've been in my little back alley location in Bend for 9 years now. Come find me and an authentic slice of Bend.
924 NW Brooks Street
LuLu’s Boutique in Downtown Bend has the slogan, “The Cutest Clothes on The Planet!” – and they aren’t kidding. LuLu’s is the largest locally-owned women’s clothing store in Bend, and they offer the cutest clothes at very reasonable prices. From dresses to tights, T-shirts with funny messages, and amazing accessories & jewelry, you are guaranteed to find something you love when you visit LuLu’s.
LuLu’s Boutique is owned and operated by Patti Orsatti. Patti is simply delightful. Warm, welcoming, and professional- it is clear that Patti knows her business. Her store is unique, clean and charming, the products are carefully (and lovingly) selected and displayed, her “store-family” (employees) meticulously selected, and – most of all- her customer service is exemplary.
I had the gift of hanging out in LuLu’s last week and I was delighted by the welcoming environment and the attention I saw shown to customers. It seemed to me that each customer was an old friend. Patti and her staff would suggest things for them, sit and chat with them while they were trying on clothes, take names and numbers to call customers when something specific arrived. It was incredible. I also discovered that they offer alterations on any of the clothes they sell, working in collaboration with A Better Alteration just down the street. (I love hearing about community win-win’s!)
Patti moved to Bend in 2007 from San Diego, where she was selling Real Estate. One day she was shopping downtown, and on a whim she said to a store owner, “If you are ever thinking about selling, I’d love to buy this place.” The store owner gushed that she was wanting to sell – and just like that Patti became the owner of a retail clothing store (something that she had zero experience in). Her lack of experience didn’t daunt her, though, instead she hit the ground running and discovered that she had innate gifts for the job. Expanding 3 times in 5 years – LuLu’s now covers the space that was, at one time, three different stores. We couldn’t be happier that she did! We now can boast about the largest women’s clothing store in Downtown Bend.
Keep up to date with LuLu’s by following them on Facebook and Instagram – and make sure to visit them at 150 NW Minnesota in Downtown Bend.
What do you get when you put together two beautiful ladies, two friendly dogs, a heap of creativity & a desire to ‘pay it forward’ and give to change the world? You get FORGE HUMANITY! Forge Humanity is a unique boutique where every single product is attached to a cause. This means that when you purchase something from Forge Humanity, you can be assured that your money is going to help someone else on this planet. Pretty cool.
Owned and operated by Amy and Tiphane (and their two pups, Maximus & Foster) walking into Forge Humanity feels (to me) like a breath of fresh air, a cool clean forest, the crisp clean energy of standing a looking at a waterfall. The store is clean, the products well displayed, and Amy and Tipahane are friendly, loving and knowledgeable. You can shop their products online, but I wouldn’t want to miss the experience of their cute little downtown Bend location.
Amy and Tiphane relocated to Bend from Denver in 2009 in search of a place they could call home that would have enough land for the animals they loved dearly, especially their horses. They visited Bend, found the perfect place for their family, and uprooted and moved with no jobs – just faith that they would leap, and the net would appear. Having no shortage of intelligence and creativity – they were able to take such a huge change in stride. Originally, they opened One Eyed Sister, a vintage eco-friendly coffee cart. This endeavor was fun and educational for them, and it led them to their next dream of having a cute little downtown business, which because Forge Humanity. But, Forge Humanity in Downtown Bend is just the seed of a much larger dream to be able to expand what they do, both online and with additional storefronts (possibly with the next location in Portland?).
Forge Humanity was founded with the idea that “we might not be able to help everyone, but everyone can help someone!” Without a doubt, I can say that Amy And Tiphane helping ‘someones’ by carrying products exclusively from conscious companies, sharing a portion of their profits with those in need, actively helping people and animals in our Bend community, and – honestly- by just showing up everyday with their big hearts open ready to serve.
Keep up to date with Forge Humanity, and their new and changing product lines by connecting with them on Facebook and Instagram, and make sure to visit their store at 126 Minnesota Ave in Downtown Bend.
Marty as been a business owner in Downtown Bend for 50 years! Anyone who has met her knows that she is delightful, intelligent and savvy. Merriam-Webster defines Moxie as: force of character, determination or nerve. Marty is all this plus a heavy dose of style.
Marty began her entrepreneurship when she was 9 years old in the Philippines. It all began when she asked her mother to loan her 25 pesos for her produce venture. Her mother not only gave her the loan, but also shared with her some words of wisdom,
“First, you have to suit up and show up. Second, you cannot be an oak tree, you have to be a willow tree, because the only thing for certain in life is change and when change occurs everything goes to ground zero. Third, as long as you can see, you can get up… And, last but not least, when life hands you lemons you make lemonade and when that’s not enough, lemon cookies, lemon meringue pie, lemon bars………”
Fast-forward to 1978 when Marty became the first women manager out of the 68 Weisfield’s Jewelers stores. Not surprisingly, that first year Marty won the District Manager’s Competition by selling the most diamond jewelry in volume and percentage. As a successful woman, Marty has paved the way for other women to follow in her path. The Bend store became a significant training center for future manager under Marty’s tutelage.
Marty opened her first store, Marty’s Fine Jewelry in the Oregon Street Mall followed by Ashley Christine Clothingon Bond Street, then Designers Fine Jewelry on Wall Street and Designers’ Artiquites and Furniture.
Currently Marty owns Ice Fine Jewelry on Wall Street and she just recently purchased GiGi’s next to Footzone! Marty is nowhere close to stopping – it fact, with GiGi’s, she is just getting started.
Over the years, several boards have been privileged to have Marty’s wisdom and contributions; including the Tower Theatre Foundation, The Small Business Development Center, The Network of Entrepreneurial Women, and The Bend Downtowners Association – just to name a few. She has also supported over 400 charities throughout Central Oregon.
To this day Marty loves her work. Her customers often ask, “When are you going to retire?“, to which Marty answers, “When I get it right.”
Last night the Downtown Bend Business Association spearheaded a gathering to celebrate her 50 years in Downtown Bend. The Tower Theatre put a notice on the marquee, friends congratulated her over wine and snacks at Mockingbird Gallery, and Marty was given a painting of her store, Ice Fine Jewelry, called “Wall Street Reflections by Richard Boyer. You can see more of Richard Boyer‘s work in October during his one person show at Mockingbird Gallery.
After this Marty-Party, Councilor Barb Campbell declared it Marty Smith Day during the City of Bend Council meeting. Councilor Barb Campbell gave a wonderful proclamation highlighting some of what was when Marty first began doing business in Downtown Bend.
“Where as, when Marty Smith started her business in Bend…There were logs, not kayaks, floating in there river;
There were fewer than 14,000 potential customers;
The hospital was still on the hill downtown and kids may have cut classes at St. Francis to see Love Story or Two Mules for Sister Sara at Tower Theatre“
“Today, Sept 6th, is Marty Smith Day in Downtown Bend!“Marty Smith is a living legacy, and we are so honored to have her in Downtown Bend!