Babette Ballinger was born in the Bronx, New York, and moved to Memphis, Tennessee at the tender age of four. After being ridiculed for bad English and a horrid accent, she developed the southern accent which she still maintains. Babette was the oldest daughter of Bernard Schnierer, a court reporter, and his wife, Miriam Wollenberger, an accomplished biologist who taught at Hunter College until moving to Memphis and told nice women didn’t work.
Babette graduated from East High School in Memphis and went to a northern School with a southern climate, Washington University in St. Louis, where she graduated with a BFA in dress design. She was active in student activities, including choreography for Bareskin Follies, making costumes for any and all plays, and supported the anti-war movement in Vietnam.
Babette moved to New York City to begin a career as children’s wear designer and then became a junior knitwear designer. After spending a year abroad including living on a kibbutz in Israel, she returned to New York City for a short time and then in the 1970’s she moved to Los Angeles to experience California dreaming. Unable to appropriately layback, Babette returned to her roots in New York City, and worked as a sweater designer eventually opening her own companies, Babette and Partners, Ballinger.Gold, and Babette Ballinger and American Knitworks.
She married Raymond Ballinger in 1982. She met Raymond thru an advertisement in the Village Voice. They were both looking for apartments, and Raymond was in the process of renovating a building and Babette wanted a floor thru. The building didn’t work out…..but the marriage did.
In 1982 they bought a small farm in Rhinebeck New York and Raymond introduced Babette to summer theatre, gardening, raising horses, and last but certainly not least, raising children. In 1999 they decided to move closer to New York City in order to spend less summer time apart, and purchased a 250 year old home in Yorktown Heights, New York.
Raymond was not one to keep a secret or leave a story untold. After twenty-five years of intimately sharing, Raymond died of kidney cancer in 2005.
Babette felt that the story of the Ballinger family was too engaging to leave unfinished, so in 2007 she began to edit and complete the book. While starting out as an act of love for their children, she realized how important and universal the story was to American families today. Most people in America have only a very general idea of their roots. They have no concept of what life was really like for their parents and grandparents, and that in fact the very essence of life, family, doesn’t change. In addition to the story of the land, the story of the relationships between fathers and sons is another compelling and provocative theme of Earthbound.
Babette currently is on the board of Green Yorktown and Yorktown SmartGrowth and serves as a counselor for SCORE. She is currently writing her memories of life in the garment industry.lives in Northern Westchester, NY with her three dogs, a Scottish Terrier, a West Highland Terrier, and a Skorkie. She still supports her Tennessee Walking Horse, Lady, who is retired.