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Good and bad, old or new

July 11, 2015
Mr. Hale.

Mr. Hale.

New Englanders are inclined to differentiate between good and bad by determining whether it’s old or new. Frugality, reluctance to change, reliance on the “tried and true”, abhorrence of things showy or gaudy, pride in the past, a strong need for tradition and continuity – all these natural inclinations in our personalities result, not surprisingly, in our wearing slightly threadbare old clothes, joining old, comfortable not-posh social clubs, owning old boats, attending old schools and colleges, living in old houses, marrying into old families, and so forth.

Judson Hale, Inside New England (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), 141.


April 7, 2015


April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

– T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land, I.

Thanksgiving Eve Traditions

November 26, 2014

Where you gather on Thanksgiving Eve is just as important as what’s on the menu on Turkey Day itself.



IF Thanksgiving is about turkey,the day before is about toasting. “It’s known as reunion night,” says New Yorker James Tang, a banker and frequent patron of Dorrian’s Red Hand, on the Upper East Side. “Dorrian’s is the perfect meeting place because New Yorkers, especially Upper East Siders, hung out there during college. They go by Dorrian’s because they know they’ll see everyone they’ve ever met,” adds Tang, who also bartends there for fun. “It’s the natives’ night out.” That’s the general consensus among establishments. “It’s always a busy bar night, because people are home visiting friends and family,” says Bill Timpson, co-owner of Buckram Stables Café in Locust Valley, New York. “There are a lot of people who went to high school here, and now they’re coming back in their forties or fifties.” A crowd is to be expected. “We put an extra bartender on; we ramp up.”

Fifth-generation New Yorker Michael R. McCarty has brought this tradition to Palm Beach, where he owns McCarty’s, a restaurant that draws the likes of Marjorie Gubelmann, Topper Mortimer, Samantha Boardman, and Bobby Leidy, the grandson of Lilly Pulitzer. “We actually don’t even open on Thanksgiving,” McCarty says, but on Wednesday, one of the restaurant’s biggest nights of the year, the terrace is as busy as it gets. “They all show up, and it’s a crazy, crazy weekend all the way through.”

from Town & Country magazine.

A nonstarter

September 8, 2014
tags: , ,


IN THE 1960s, when the Hancock people wrote to the longtime Casino president, Doris (Mrs. John) Winterbotham, asking to buy the club property so they could have not one but two high-rises in their project, she tossed the letter into a desk drawer, where it was found after her death years later. She had never replied, and the developer decided to leave well enough alone.1

1. Michael Kilian, “For Members Only: Once Bastions Of Exclusivity, Chicago’s Private Clubs Have Become Open To Change-well, In Some Ways,” Chicago Tribune, April 21, 1996, accessed September 8, 2014,

Back to school

September 2, 2014


The beach

August 22, 2014


O beautiful for spacious skies

July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July.

Fourth of July, Childe Hassam, 1916.

Fourth of July, Childe Hassam, 1916.

Nothing fancy

June 22, 2014

Just a summer Sunday dinner.


Exemplars, XXII

June 19, 2014
tags: ,

John Harney (1930-2014). USMC. Cornell. Master tea blender.

Mr. & Mrs. John Harney in Bermuda.

Mr. & Mrs. John Harney in Bermuda.


June 13, 2014

BELOW, one of our people reveals the limits of a stereotype. Re-posted from the unlikeliest of forums: Yahoo Answers.

mayonnaiseACTUALLY, it is an old stereotype: “white people eat white bread, mayonnaise, and American cheese (or Velveeta).” I’ve heard it from my husband’s relatives, who apply it exclusively to WASPs like me — so it’s not a stereotype of whites (not of Italians or Hispanics, for example) in general but rather of a certain type of white — a person of Anglo-Saxon heritage who supposedly loves to drink alcohol but never serves any food at social events, like weddings.

In fact, it’s all ridiculous.

The mayonnaise thing is particularly ridiculous, since plenty of white Europeans — Catholic French and Italians, Catholic and Protestant Germans, eastern European Jews — have always loved mayonnaise. The difference is that they have always made their own; they’ve never eaten Hellmann’s or (God forbid) anything like Miracle Whip. I grew up in a WASP family, but our mayonnaise was always homemade, according to a French recipe passed down by a great-great grandmother, and my parents sneered at commercially produced white bread. And Velveeta would never have been allowed over the threshold.

As usual, generalizations like these reveal far more about the limited intelligence, experience, and sophistication of the people who make them than about the targets of them.