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Fri June 7, 2013

'That Was Me': Recognizing Yourself In A Piece Of History

Originally published on Thu June 6, 2013 7:21 pm

President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping are meeting this weekend at Sunnylands, an exclusive retreat center near Palm Springs, Calif. On top of 11 lakes, a private golf course and a world-renowned art collection, the compound holds more history than even a 200-acre estate should be able to contain. Obama is the eighth U.S. president to have spent time there. Frank Sinatra married his fourth wife there.

Many news organizations have written about the history of Sunnylands, including The New York Times. In a story Wednesday morning, the newspaper published the photo below, saying it shows "Henry Kissinger during a dinner at Sunnylands, date unknown."

"That was me," Carol Swanson Price told me. Price is the woman in the green dress, sitting to Kissinger's right in the photo. She was close friends with Walter and Leonore Annenberg, who built Sunnylands as their winter home. Her late husband was Ambassador Charles Price, who represented the United States in Britain during the Reagan administration.

"The Annenbergs were like a second family to me," Mrs. Price says, joking that her car practically drove to Sunnylands on autopilot.

As for the photo, "I believe that that was taken at Walter's 75th birthday," she says. "He died in 2002 at 90, so that was a long time ago." Twenty-six years, to be exact: The photo was taken in 1987.

"Lee always had a very special birthday party for him and always made it wonderful with great conversation," Price says. "She took a lot of time and effort to try to place people well so they'd enjoy one another. She was a fabulous hostess."

You can hear the full story of Sunnylands's colorful history on tonight's All Things Considered.

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