September 10th, 2011


The Journey Continues

So yesterday we walked all over Newport, through the summer "cottages" of the Uber-Rich of the Gilded Age America. Holy moly, the lavishness! The excess! Beautiful, some of it -- simply so over-the-top in other places it's almost hard to comprehend. These people could and did live like kings and queens and then it all simply went away (of course, it's coming back fast, because the GOP really seem to want a complete return to the Gilded Age). But we saw the home of William and Alva Vanderbilt (Marble House), the home of Hermann and Theresa Oelrichs (Rosecliff), the home of Edward and Herminie Berwind (The Elms), and the home of Cornelius and Alice Vanderbilt (The Breakers, easily the most impressive of the four). Of course I was doing mental research as I walked through, knowing what the O'Connor family could have (some of it) and what they couldn't (a lot of the rest).

Marble House was an astounding piece of architecture, and one had to admire her mistress, Alva Vanderbilt, who was a serious suffragette and held parties for Votes for Women her seasons there in Newport (there was an entire set of china marked "Votes for Women" -- which did lead the tour to wonder how all the scullery maids felt about washing them!). I was thrilled to tour Rosecliff, since it was by Stanford White, who I've been reading about, and I'd hoped to see some of his work. Sadly, it was despite restoration in the worst repair of the four, since it actually had been completely run down (flooded after burst pipes and pretty near ruined) and abandoned, but the restoration work was really well done.

They were also doing some restoration in The Elms, and the room which should have been covered in Chinese black lacquer panels was not, most had been taken down I'm guessing for cleaning or repair. The Elms was laid out the most like my own O'Connor House (Sean Patrick's ancestral home in San Antonio), but again, these places were... amazing.

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Dancing hilarity.

Borowitz Report: Credible Threats Made Against Government.

Then today!

We got up and made a leisurely start, taking the line down to Zabar's to pick up breakfast, a brief stop at Beard Papa's for cream puffs, then a walk across to Central Park. We paused so I could see The Dakota and briefly pay my respects to the spot where John Lennon died (a defining moment in my young life), then walked across the AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL Central Park to The Met. I saw squirrels and ROBINS, which are a big deal for us Southwesterners. Did a whirlwind tour of the Met; got to see most of what I wanted to see and a bit more; we did race through a few spots I could have lingered longer, but on the whole, we did very well in the time allotted. Then we walked down to a lovely little noodle shop for a late lunch. Barb and I continued to Rockefeller Center, saw Radio City Music Hall, and headed back to the apartment to put our feet up (which need it!)

Am now having a little wine and some nice conversation. Woot!

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