I wish I had my camera with me and someone could take a picture of me. I’m sitting on the floor, up against a wall in Grand Central Station, Tulea on my knees, waiting to board the train back to Poughkeepsie where I will then go on by car to Woodstock. I got here early and there seems to be no chairs or benches to sit on, so—

Funny to be here, cause for 8 years, this was the station I went to and from en route, first to Troy, NY (my boarding school Emma Willard) for 4 years and then Poughkeepsie (Vassar), passing Fonda, NY, on the way up the Hudson. If you blinked you’d miss it. It was where my ancestor, Jellis Fonda, settled in the 1600s after fleeing Holland because of repression against the Dutch Reform Church. He rowed up the Hudson and settled in Mohawk territory. When I look out the train windows, I try to imagine how he must have felt, rowing up that massive expanse of water, not knowing how far it would take him or what lay in store. Maybe he decided to stop where he did just because he got tired. As I have written before, the old graveyard in Fonda has moss-covered headstones with the names Pietre, Jayne, Henry!!

I came to the City to attend a screening of Bruce Beresford’s last film, “Mao’s Last Dancer.” It opens in theatres on Friday. I liked it very much. Cried a lot at the emotional ending and was fascinated by what was shown of China in the days of Mao. It is a true story. The lead actor, a gorgeous man, is also a fantastic dancer and it was a treat to watch him move!! Everyone from “Peace, Love and Misunderstanding” was there, cast and crew. What fun to see everyone all glam’ed up. After the screening, hosted by the Australian Consulate, we celebrated Bruce’s 70th birthday.

And now, here I am, in the comfort and safety of an airconditioned train, following the same trajectory as my ancestor, looking forward to my final 5 days of shooting that will include some fun and juicy scenes with Catherine Keener.

Stay tuned.

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  1. Hi Jane you are all over the map and still going
    strong. I envy you not you stature in life but your
    endurance. Take care and enjoy thanks for the tweets.


  2. Wow…two years ago, same time of year, I took the same train ride from Grand Central to Poughkeepsie along the Hudson loving every minute! Thanks for the photos and refreshing my memory of a happy time.

  3. Hello Jane,
    Wonderful view by train, here is one more ancestor,Jesse Fonda if you have not seen his book .Familiar Letters on Sacraments: Addressed to the People of His Charge (1824) you can read online or download for free. It is a window the the thinking , your ancestors views on the holy Sacramnts are very bold, for the time. A good document Puts light on a area of study. At a time when the holy Sacramnts were viewed as drinking blood and unholy , Jesse comes out as his dudy in this written account. A clear represention of a person thinking, in a offical nature.

    I’m writing this after hearing about Michael Douglas tumour in his throat. I can only give hopes of full recovery and give my concern for his loved ones and family who are under terrific strain, too. Michael has a wonderful example of longevity in his father, whom he described in a recent interview as a ‘very intense, talented survivalist’.

  4. Greetings Miss Fonda from New Zealand. You have been away from the Big Screen for far to long. We are looking forward to your new films. We will be in LA next year and will be going to see your Play. Stay safe and keep doing what you do…you are a Treasured Icon round the World. Much Lovexxxxxx

  5. What a delight to follow you, be with you! Thank you for your allowing, opening, expanding. You inspire, live and love.

  6. I love that trip from NYC up the Hudson to the
    Troy/Rensselaer Train Station, Winter, Spring,
    Summer or Fall!

    Thank you for reminding me, as I sit here in China, so far from my beloved Hudson!


  7. Loved your ancestor story. I have an ancestor who was part of (albeit briefly) of the Lewis and Clark expedition. He was a French-Canadian (engage) that was hired to interpret between L&C and the Oto Indians. What happened to him after he was sent off to an Oto camp to bring back the chief, is open to debate. I am extremely proud of my French-Canadian heritage which goes back to the 1600’s in Canada.

  8. Beautiful thoughts!
    Beautiful photos!

    But you are on the wrong river if
    you are looking for the village of
    Fonda, NY 😉

    The village of Fonda, NY sits on a
    beautiful spot north of a bend in the
    MOHAWK River,
    about 50 miles west of where the
    Mohawk and Hudson Rivers meet.
    It is the county seat of Montgomery
    County, NY and near the town of

    It is a beautiful place, steeped in
    history, of both the European
    settlers and the native people
    who have called it their home.

    I thank your ancestor for his
    long trip from NYC all those
    many years ago.

  9. I love it when you provide brief descriptions of an “ordinary” person doing an ordinary thing (sitting on the floor in Grand Central) to remind us that though you are extrodinary, you’re like everybody else in many ways.

  10. It was fun to see your picture on “celebrity sightings”, drink and dog in hand next to a handsome actor. Was wondering what the movie was, thanks for the info.

  11. JANE FONDA!! Were you at grand central station in the dead of night?!? Sitting on the floor?!? (No benches anymore?) With ms tulea purched on your knees!?!!! (I didn’t realize dogs are allowed on the train-seems not in boston…) Were you ea in disguise? Lol! I can NOT imagine *no one* recognizing tulea!!! She’s infamous fr your blog! Lol! ~~ I just returned fr a visit w my utica family~abt 60 miles east of your ancestoral fonda. A visit is never without going to fonda~to the shrine of kateri, an indian who was taken in my missioneries. Kateri has one more miracle to sainthood. When deedee was diagnosed with scleraderma, she found great healing here. (She is one of the longest survivors~10yrs~of this dis~ease. Belief is a very powerful thing…as witnessed.) I too wonder how people fled their homeland to an unknown world, managed to survive (food shortage, harsh winters, etc), decide where to stop and settle, and create a lineage that becomes jane fonda. Could you? Could I? Amazing. The clicking wheels singing over traintracks must have lulled you into such wonderment with amazed respect and gratitude for your ancestors courage & bravery. Paddling up the hudson? Unbelievable. Is there a story here for you? A generational docbio? I’d be interested as you seem to have so much information at hand. From a man fleeing persucation to your family who protrayed life in film~i am thinking of your father’s “grapes of wrath,” you in “coming home.” Just a thought. Ps: still can’t get over you & tulea sitting on gcs floor without folks taking your pixs! Must have been kinda relaxing to be left alone, unnoticed but to remember times before when you were there. Xox m&lb

  12. Hi Ms Fonda (…from the Midwest…I can’t call you “Jane” until we’ve been formally introduced).

    I love the site and the view of movie making I get from your blog. I review movies on a small show on a small radio station in North Idaho. I’ll watch for your film and the “Mao’s Last Dancer” although I’ll have to see them on DVD. Movies like this don’t show where I live.

    I reviewed the flick FTA (1972) a while back and I need to watch “Coming Home” again to do on the show. The show is “Peace Radio” so your name has come up more than once! you rock! We (the three hosts) are fans of your work and your political involvement and see you as an activist inspiration.


  13. quel courage !! you are always on the roads !! take care of you.xx

  14. hi- i can not believe no man gave up his seat for you.are their no gentlemen left in this world??this is outrageous.what kind of man would let a older woman sit on the floor,while he remains should of called theam out.
    john schramm

    • Honey, the point is NO ONE was seated!! There are NO SEATS in Grand Central station outside the entrances to the tracks. Besides, I don’t look like an old lady. That particular day I looked rather spry and youthful–if one didn’t look too closely>

  15. Hi, we’re staying up the road where the porta potties are stationed during the shoot, dog and cat sitting for friends. I remember that farmhouse from 20 years ago when I was up here. It was a bit ramshackle and I wished then I could buy it. Well, it’s 20 years later and I still can’t afford to buy it, but I certainly have enjoyed the little peeks I’ve had of the shoot. I’ve gotten to know “Chicken Man” (my name for him) and Wynn, the owner of the house. I will look forward to the film when it comes out and feel a teeny pride of vicarious ownership. That doesn’t really make sense.

    I’ve been a fan of yours for all these years, and your blog is terrific. How wonderful of you to be doing it. Thanks.

    • Only 4 more days to go for me and I’m sad this film has gone by so fast. It has been a real pleasure and I have good feelings about it. It’s funny and yet has a serious underbelly…always my favorite kinds of films. xx

  16. Hi Jane! I love Grand Central Station. It’s such a great way to come and go from the city. I remember going through the old San Francisco train station (now gone) as a kid with my father. I would always wear a jacket and tie. Then, in the late 60s, the hippy revolution happened and no more jackets and ties. I would take the train in with my buddies wearing long hair and jeans. Now, I watch “Mad Men,” or I am at Union Station in Los Angeles and think wistfully of those times. Dan

  17. JANE FONDA!!! You were sitting on the *floor* @ gcs with ms tulea perched upon your knees~and no one took the imfamous tulea’s pix~a star of your blog!?! Lol! Amazing!! It must have been nice for you to be left with your memories of that girl of your youth~off to school. BUT! What a pix this wld have made of you now! (No benches in gcs anymore? Glad to learn dogs are allowed on the train. I understood they aren’t on amtrack.) Xox m & lb

    • No, not Amtrack which is why I took the Metro North. What’s so great is that I can do something like that and no one notices or bothers. I like being invisible.

  18. Dear Jane,

    I wrote a couple of weeks ago, but I think there may have been an error when I sent, so…

    We met about 30 years ago, when I was singing with Dolly, and worked on the record and movie “9-to-5.” Later, I was on the bus tour through the Ozarks when you were doing research for “The Dollmaker.” I remember you learning to whittle for your role, and you carved a really beautiful apple to give to your father. One night, you Dolly and I stayed up drinking moonshine and laughing and telling stories till the sun came up!
    I think it was after that trip (and maybe the moonshine)that you sang backup with me at the Grand Old Opry! (BTW, I’m still singing.)

    I heard that you were filming in Ulster County, my home for the last 15 years, and I wanted to welcome you. (My husband and I are originally from Brooklyn, so this is close to home.) It’s wonderful that you’re doing movies again and that you’re doing one here. And, wow, you look mahvelous. Your blog and photos are really impressive.

    If your schedule permits, it would be lovely to hear from you or see you. If it’s possible for you to reply, could you please email me directly?

    I want to wish you lots of success with this film, and lots of love in everything in your life!


    • I do remember well that historic (for me) trip. It was on that trip that I ended up finding the woman in Mountainview, Arkansas, that I lived with –she and her and her husband– for 10 days way in the back woods–no electricity, I milked their cow, churned their butter, chopped their wood, shot, skinned and cooked a possum ..yuck, too greasy!–and loved every minute of it. That was to get into my roll in “The Dollmake” which a previous commenter just mentioned. I remember singing back up at The Grand ol Opry..”Apple Jack” was the song. I remember getting the Moonshine in the Ozarks and staying drunk for a week but the stuff was so pure that I didn’t even realize it till I got home and it took a week to recover. What fun we had!!! Thanks for writing. I ony have 4 more days here and we work long hours. xxx

  19. You are really something, Jane. Even though you are an Oscar-winning actor, you are still down-to-earth enough to sit on the floor at Grand Central! That’s one reason I love reading your blog.

    Enjoy your final days of filming.

  20. I really enjoy your entries, so thoughtful and well-written. I crossed the Hudson this summer and spent a night near Nyack. The Hudson valley still feels so “Last of the Mohicans,” even in 2010.

    I was struck by your earlier reply where you said you had good feelings about the film. Did you mean good feelings about the experience of making it or good feelings about how you think it will turn out? I’ve always wondered if an actor has any sense during filming whether the finished project is going to be a memorable film or a “dud.” Have you ever been surprised, one way or the other?

  21. Jane, I loved this post, especially the image of you with Tulea sitting in Grand Central. Isn’t it a great place now that they fixed it up? It is a timeless place. And I think it is always important to remember your ancestors and the treks they’ve made. Whenever I am in Ireland I am so conscious of that. Keep writing! Be well! Brian.

  22. I’m fascinated to read about Fonda, NY, and Jellis Fonda…assuming the links will take me to where I can read more I will click on them next. My ancestors on my mother’s side were Van Swearingens from the Netherlands. There is no town named for them, however! My husband and I were married in NYC almost 15 years ago. We went to The Cloisters museum on our wedding day…what gorgeous views of the spectacular Hudson from there, and spent part of our honeymoon in Croton-on-Hudson. It’s a beautiful part of the country, most definitely.

    Really love your blog.

  23. Great post, as always.
    In case you should ever again find yourself early for a train in GCT…
    There is a waiting room with benches to sit on, but you have to go into the room marked Stationmaster’s Office just off the Grand Concourse.
    That’s where the ground floor ladies restrooms are hidden too, by the way.
    It’s a beautiful train station, but the lay-out is rather bizarre!

  24. Love the stories about Dolly, and “The Dollmaker” in your book. I would imagine that to be one of the fondest experiences of your life, for all that came from it, and for the friendship that endures.

  25. I liked reading about your train trips up the Hudson as a young girl going to school and college. Those pictures you took of the Hudson show what a majestic river it is. I can imagine your ancestor rowing up the river looking for a perfect spot to settle…or maybe he was just tired like you said and didn’t want to go any further. It’s so wonderful you were able to experience that ride again while you were working on your latest film.

    I’m glad you were able to be “invisible” while you waited for the train. I can understand why that’s important to you when it happens! I had to smile when I read that you had to sit on the floor when you couldn’t find a seat while you waited for the train! You never cease to amaze me how practical and down-to-earth you are! I think that it’s a very normal thing to do, if there weren’t any seats available, and you wanted to sit down! I’m so happy no one bothered you!:)

  26. I love your blog (and tweets!) but have to mention something that has been bothering me – you keep referring to Fonda as being on the Hudson, and it’s not – it’s on the Mohawk River – I used to live very close to there, and drove through Fonda often when visiting my mother. I have ancestors in the same graveyard.

    Otherwise, it’s been fun reading your updates.

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