Chapter Eight - 1971-1973
JG, Mito, HOWO, HIWE, and Silly San Francisco.
(Equivalent to 103 pages in a published book)
Moments from Chapter Eight
Superman held my hand!
I was the bartender at Versailles!
Lunch with Hubert Givenchy.
I saw the Guernica wall!
Seven courses of truffles!
Cannes in a Cadillac!
June Churchill and Community Projects.
“More Stunning Slants!”
Would you like an air-conditioned ride home?
After two weeks, I held his hand; after three, we kissed, after four, we married!
“We sell freezers to silly geezers.”
The Green Flash
“It’s an Elmyr!”
My Dad dies.
HOWO - The House in the Woods
We “Go to Blazes!”
”For thee I Pine and Balsam”
Xmas in L.A. with Jackson and Craig Kelly
This is Sanka!
The Silly, San Francisco, Party Boat
Immigration says “No!”
Christmas at HIWE - High Weather
From the end of Chapter Seven:
Travelling from Bristol to Birmingham, Brighton to Belfast, Manchester to Liverpool, New Castle to Leeds, I worked in nearly every sizable town in the U.K., and, by April 1971, I had established a new sales organization of 450, very carefully selected men who produced enough new business for IOS/ILI (UK) to cover its expenses, and… for it to become a viable acquisition.
In 1973, the assets of the company were acquired and its name was changed to Cannon Assurance Limited. Consequently, the careers of my men were assured, and my reputation and the company survived – I had met the challenge.
In May 1971, Vesco finally took over the IOS group of companies, and I disassociated myself permanently.
While my life was starting a whole new chapter (yet again), John Galliher’s romantic novel continued apace.
I’d join him for cocktails most evenings, and most evenings were memorable.
The cast of characters that passed across those twin, yellow, leather sofas would make anyone’s mind blur, and John’s social tactics were almost Machiavellian. For example, he gave a cocktail to introduce Christopher Reeves, the new “Superman,” to our crowd.
John had a record player that would keep repeating a disc if the retainer arm was not engaged - with the noise and excitement, no one ever noticed that the music never changed. To this day, every time I hear Marvin Gaye’s What’s Goin’ On?, I am transported back to that evening when I imagined that Christopher held my hand just a little longer than necessary to simply say hello!
As Johnny would say, life was agreeable, but, having had a passionate affair with IOS/ILI for almost ten years, I was more than a little discombobulated… I was in the same town, same house, saw the same friends, but I simply wasn’t the same person. I’d lost my “soap box” so to speak.
This time I didn’t feel like “buying a new hat” but I sure needed to get back on track. It took a while.
John tried to amuse me with a trip to Paris. “I have a couple of surprises for you,” he said.
The next day we were having lunch with Hubert Givenchy at his petit palais in the country.
The house was gorgeous, the lunch divine, and Johnny was at his most charming. They were enveloped in an obvious chemistry – Hubert had been a significant part of Johnny’s life many years earlier.
The next afternoon we taxied to Versailles. I had never seen the palace before.
Johnny’s friends, Florence and Gerald Van der Kemp, were living in a “grace-and-favor” private apartment in the palace and had invited us for dinner. They took us on a mini-tour; I was gobsmacked, they were delightful.
They asked me to make the drinks – I was the bartender at Versailles! Dinner was a simple, family affair – quite marvelous.
New York Times, January 15, 2002:
Gerald Van der Kemp, the French art expert who masterminded the restoration of Louis XIV's palace at Versailles and saved the ''Mona Lisa'' from destruction by the Nazis, died Dec. 28 in Paris. He was 89.
In the 35 years that he was in charge of Versailles, Mr. Van der Kemp devoted himself to returning its principal galleries, apartments, and rooms to the way they looked in the 17th and 18th centuries, after many years of neglect by a nation ambiguous in its attitude toward symbols of royalty.
With the encouragement of President Charles de Gaulle and his culture Minister, the writer André Malraux, Mr. Van der Kemp scoured the world for treasures sold after the French Revolution and assembled an army of master craftsmen -- carvers, plasterers, gilders, silversmiths, seamstresses -- to repair or recreate the palace's lost splendors.
But probably his most important contribution to that task was to mobilize another kind of army, an army of the rich, to supplement the French government's modest financial contribution. He set up the Versailles Foundation in New York City with his second wife, Florence Harris, an American, who survives him.
Johnny and I returned to London. Then, quite unexpectedly, the husband of Gladis Soloman (The IOS Foundation) wanted to buy my home at 5 Upper Belgrave Place, lock, stock, and barrel. And, with the exception of the small, gilded Buddha and a huge, abstract painting, I did just that.
John was thrilled… I could move in with him!
Now that was a concept absolutely unimagined by anyone who had ever known him; and something I would never have considered except for that one peculiar moment in time when I felt so untethered to the world.
So I hung the giant abstract painting in the sunken living room, and put the little Buddha next to the bed in the third-floor guest suite, and moved into 23 Chester Street.
John’s housekeeper lived on the fourth floor, put separate breakfast trays outside our floor-through suites every morning, and, as she always has, disappeared for the rest of the day, often leaving a complete lunch or dinner for two to five, in the ovens and fridges depending upon JG’s next tactic.
The town was abuzz with the new arrangement, and John threw lunches, cocktails, and dinners to celebrate. Johnny introduced me to Bill Blass as Mr. Carter, and from then on, Bill called me Mr. Mister. Johnny even had my left ear lobe pierced for a ring – lunacy! He was more than over the moon, but the truth was… mentally and physically, I steadfastly remained celibate.
The only thing I did to mark my new moment was to buy Sam Welker’s big, black, Cadillac, with flags and its long, whip antenna - the purple interior matched a Saint Laurent satin suit I’d bought on the King’s Road last week!
June - John’s next strategy was to introduce me to Douglas Cooper, who had adopted my buddy, Billy McCarty-Cooper. So, as I mentioned in Chapter Seven, we went to spend a long weekend at Château de Castille – Douglas’ magnificent country estate in Argilliers, Gard, France.
Here’s an interesting sidebar that describes it better than I can:
A Chateau That Picasso Fell For, in the South of France
By ELISABETH HIGONNET-DUGUA
FEB. 11, 2016
Credit Clement Cousin
UZÈS, France — You may not even notice it behind plane trees, cypresses and cork oaks, driving along the Départementale 981 from Uzès to the Pont du Gard, past the village of Argilliers, in southern France.
Doric columns and white oleander trees line the drive leading to a perfectly proportioned three-story mansion of sand-colored stone, with tall French windows flanked by pale blue shutters. Like the old Provençal houses, the chateau faces south, its back to the Mistral wind. On the ground floor, a peristyle winding along the front facade and around the east and west sides supports a terrace. A second balustrade runs around the cornice of the roof, echoing the one below.
No wonder the mother of the current owner succumbed to its magnetic charm. Picasso had fallen in love with the property before her but failed to persuade the British art critic Douglas Cooper, who owned it at the time, to sell. The artist did, however, leave an indelible mark in the form of five sculpted murals now listed on the register of protected monuments by the French state.
The estate, known as the Château de Castille, is on the market with Sotheby’s International Realty for 8.9 million euros, or $9.9 million. The property, 29 kilometers, or 18 miles, from Nîmes, and 10 kilometers from the small town of Uzès, is a three-hour T.G.V. train ride from Paris, while Montpellier/Méditerranée international airport is an hour away by car.
The spirit of the place as it is today begins in the 18th century.
Built on the 13th-century foundations of a fortress, the chateau was entirely remodeled by Gabriel Joseph de Froment, Baron of Castille, who was born in Uzès in 1747. He gave it its soul and its ubiquitous columns, which would become his trademark; this innocent mania, contracted during a trip to Italy, earned him affectionate teasing from his friends, who nicknamed the home, the chateau with a thousand columns.
After de Froment’s death, in 1826, the estate entered a long period of decline.
In 1950, Mr. Cooper, the art historian and collector — and friend to Klee, de Staël, Picasso, Braque and other members of the European art scene — bought Castille, giving the castle new life.
In Barcelona, Mr. Cooper had admired Picasso’s drawings engraved in concrete by Carl Nesjar at the Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos using the Betograve technique.
During a visit to Castille, Picasso had exclaimed “Give me a wall!” on which he would design such a work of art.
Thus five drawings by Picasso, inspired by David’s “The Rape of the Sabine Women” and “Le Déjeuner Sur L’herbe” by Manet, were engraved on the wall of the eastern veranda in 1963 by Mr. Nesjar in collaboration with Thorbjoern Ulvoden, Leif Johannessen and the sculptor Erik Hesselberg.
End of sidebar.
Johnny and I took the Cadillac!
Of course, the house was spectacular, but I was more amused by Douglas’ style of living. Books were stacked everywhere, paintings hung in no discernable order; it was the dorm of a fanatical scholar!
I recall dozens of amazing pieces including a huge Leger rubbing elbows with a teeny Braque on the landing to our room, but I don’t remember the Picasso wall.
All I really remember was one dinner and… the Guernica wall!
Wikipedia: Guernica is a mural-sized oil painting on canvas by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso completed in June 1937. The painting, which uses a palette of gray, black, and white, is regarded by many art critics as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history. Standing at 3.49 meters (11 ft. 5 in) tall by 7.76 meters (25 ft. 6 in) wide, the mural shows the suffering of people wrenched by violence and chaos. Prominent in the composition are a gored horse, a bull, and flames.
We weren’t allowed to see it until after dark.
Billy and Douglas, hand in hand, and Johnny and me, drinks in hand, walked down the drive past a high wall on our left, and out into the darkness of the meadow for several yards. Douglas was pointing to something in the distance when we were suddenly bathed in ‘moonlight.’
We turned around and there was Guernica!
Bigger than life, the creation, glowing from hidden lights, was literally stunning.
The wall had been built from flint covered with plaster. Working at night, with a slide of the painting projected on the white plaster, the artist sand-blasted away the white plaster layer by layer, revealing the flint underneath.
Wikipedia: Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert. It occurs chiefly as nodules and masses in sedimentary rocks, such as chalks and limestones. Inside the nodule, flint is usually dark gray, black, green, white or brown in color, and often has a glassy or waxy appearance. A thin layer on the outside of the nodules is usually different in color, typically white and rough in texture.
As a building material:
Flint, knapped or unknapped, has been used from antiquity up to the present day as a material for building stone walls, using lime mortar, and often combined with other available stone or brick rubble.
The dinner that I remember in that incredible dining room was of seven courses each of which consisted primarily of truffles!
After dinner we played an ice-breaking game, popular at house parties: Describe, in turn, the host, then the other guests, using all of the letters in their names.
This was mine of Douglas’:
DOUGLASCOOPER: Devastatingly Omni-present, Uncompromisingly Generous, Loquacious And Sincere, Cooper Organizes Only Perfectly Entertaining Relaxation.
And his of me:
TEDCARTER: Tantalizingly Enigmatic, Dangerously Candid And Retrospectively Truthful, Ergo Revolutionary.
Douglas was very interested in my IOS/ILI career and what I planned to do now. In a grandmotherly way, he understood that I was twix sixes and sevens; in other words, I didn’t have a clue.
He gave me a note to take to Leon Lambert in Brussels (also a “friend of Mrs. King” as international queens were wont to say).
Leon owned the Banque Lambert and had a most fantastical penthouse with entire walls that pivoted to display more of his famous art collection. Leon was toying with the idea of creating an art mutual fund to be called ARTEMIS. That’s sort of an oxymoron when one considers the necessary redemption ability of mutual fund shares – something that caused GRAMCO some problems in the aftermath of IOS.
I think Baron Alexis de Rede (see Chapter Seven) was also somehow involved with ARTEMIS. Considering the turn of his ankle, it seemed natural.
In any event, I never gave the letter of introduction to the Baron, and the only thing I know about Artemis is that it is the name of one of the racing teams that competed for the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda in May 2017.
Baron Leon Lambert; Banker Collected Art
Published: June 1, 1987
Baron Leon Lambert, a banker and art collector, died last Thursday at Erasmus Hospital in Brussels. He was 58 years old.
Baron Lambert went into cardiac arrest 10 days ago and lapsed into a coma from which he never emerged, according to officials of Drexel Burnham Lambert, the Wall Street investment firm in which he had an interest.
He was the great-grandson of Baron James de Rothschild and the great-great-grandson of Samuel Lambert, who established the family-owned Banque Lambert in 1840. It merged with Banque de Bruxelles in 1974, forming Banque Bruxelles Lambert, one of Belgium's largest banks.
His connection with Drexel Burnham began in the 1970's. Baron Lambert invested in William D. Witter, a Wall Street research company. In 1976, the Drexel Burnham Group merged with Baron Lambert's holding company, Lambert Brussels Witter, to create the Drexel Burnham Lambert Group.
Millions of dollars in art from his extensive collection - impressionist, modern and postwar paintings, prints and sculptures - have been scheduled for sale by Christie's, the New York art auctioneer. The art is from several floors of the bank's office building in Brussels and from the baron's apartment above the banking floors.
Baron Lambert, who was born in Belgium, attended Yale and Oxford as well as the University of Geneva.
The denouement of our visit to the Château de Castille:
One night in 1974, while Douglas slept, thieves cut a wire fence, broke in through a window and stole 25 Picassos, a Braque, and a Gris. The art, worth almost a million dollars (undoubtedly tens of millions more today), was never found. That finished Douglas with Castille. He put it on the market and bought two apartments — one for him, one for Billy — in Monte Carlo. Billy decorated them and Douglas moved in in 1977.
Johnny flew back to London and I drove over to Cannes for my usual, annual visit to the Hotel Edouard VII and the Ondine Beach.
I stayed a couple of weeks - the Cadillac was a hit!
Mid-June I drove back to London via Geneva, Frankfurt, A’dam, Brussels, Antwerp, and Ostend - touching base with ex-IOS colleagues and sounding out ideas for the future.
Two ideas emerged; one from ex-ILI manager and once-pro footballer, Stan Rickaby from the British Midlands. Stan had discovered a small group of women in Wolverhampton who had formed a sewing club. They used patterns supplied by Gerwi, a company in St. Gallen, Switzerland.
I flew to Zurich, checked into the new Waldhaus Dolder Hotel, managed by toupéed Herr Toberlone, and taxied to St. Gallen. I struck an exclusive marketing arrangement for the U.K. in which I would receive a sales commission on marketing the Gerwi Sewing Membership Program and any resulting sewing machine sales. The program consisted of members receiving monthly, sewing pattern kits.
After the signing of our Memorandum Of Understanding, I bumped into a terrific looking guy who was attending the University of St. Gallen. We ended up spending the weekend frolicking in the Waldhaus Dolder pool and luxuriating in its penthouse.
Returning to London, I asked Paul Littlewood of Boodle Hatfield (the 300-year-old attorneys that had worked with me on several property deals with the Grosvenor Estate) to set up a company to handle this business. I named the company Community Projects, Ltd.; a buddy, June Churchill (related by marriage to Sir Winston), agreed to head up the Board of Directors.
June and Stan set out to build a direct sales force of women throughout the U.K. One of the attractions was reinforcing community spirit through regular meetings. These get-togethers generated ideas for projects that would help build community relations and attend to community needs.
Sales started almost immediately, and the local projects generated good PR that resulted in more recruits and more sales.
Then, I heard that an ex-ILI manager was operating a food-and-freezer plan in the south of England. Sponsored by an ex-Etonian, Home Shoppers Plan Ltd. provided discounted frozen food to households. Of course, one had to have a freezer to store the bulk food deliveries, so freezer sales were part of the package. The freezers were sold with financing provided by regional finance companies. Because of indiscriminate selling to financially unqualified customers, the freezer business did not have a good reputation in the world of retail or finance.
However, research demonstrated to me that this was indeed an idea whose time had come. In fact, it had been a successful concept in the United Sates several years earlier as The Amana Plan.
Wikipedia: The Amana Corporation is an American brand of household appliances. It was founded in 1934 by George Foerstner as The Electrical Equipment Co. in Middle Amana, Iowa, to manufacture commercial walk-in coolers. The business was later owned by the Amana Society and became known as Amana Refrigeration, Inc. It is now owned by the Whirlpool Corporation.
In 1947, Amana manufactured the first upright freezer for the home, and in 1949 it added a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer. In 1950 the company was sold to a group of investors, including its founder, and became Amana Refrigeration, Inc.
In 1954 it began making air conditioners. Amana was acquired in 1965 by Raytheon, which had invented the microwave oven in 1947, and introduced the commercial Radarange Model 1611 in 1954. In 1967 Amana introduced a consumer model of the Radarange, the first popular microwave designed for home use.
Amana has since expanded into manufacturing a variety of other appliances, including furnaces, ovens, countertop ranges, dishwashers, and clothes washers and dryers.
I arranged a meeting with the local manager and he introduced me to Andrew Harrison who owned the business. Harrison was a toff who lived in a small but grand, brick house near Hampstead Heath in London. He had a “secret” junior partner who was directing a competing group of salesmen, under a different company name, also in the south. Seemed unethical and messy to me; they thought it was clever sales motivation.
I proposed to bring my contacts, and skills of recruitment, training, and operation to the company in return for a sizeable piece of the equity and total autonomy in operations. They agreed. (Andrew later told me that he was so impressed by the cleanliness of my fingernails, that he’d have agreed to almost anything to have the opportunity of working with me. Some criteria!)
Life in Johnny G’s circle was certainly amusing, but I couldn’t resist the siren call of Yours and Mine (The Sombrero). I needed young people in my life.
Even without a chauffeur and the large entourage I had in the days of IOS/ILI, I still enjoyed the right of jumping the queue and the exclusivity of my private banquette downstairs in the club.
It’s August 2, 1971; the club is full of new faces – more stunning slants! One guy, in particular, is especially attractive. I nodded across the crowded room. He catches my eye, but that’s all; not even a smile.
I send the waiter over to offer him a drink but he gets the cold shoulder. Now, I’m really intrigued. I cross the jammed dance floor; he is part of a group of tittering guys, watching me.
“My name is Ted, would you like a drink?”
“My name is Mito. Now that you are offering it personally, I’d very much like a Gin & Tonic.” He turned back to his group.
I went to get the drink, returned with it, and handed it to Mito.
He accepted it with a big grin, excused himself for being with friends, and turned back to his group.
I was nonplussed and off-balance.
I retreated to my banquette and old friends. They were surprised at the unusual behavior.
During the next couple of hours, Mito and I exchanged glances and nods, but nothing else. I couldn’t get my eyes off him and decided to make a final move. Paying my bill and saying goodnight to my group, I went over to him.
“I’m so pleased to have met you. I appreciate you are with friends, but I would love to get to know you better. Would you like an air-conditioned ride home?”
That did it – he laughed, grabbed my elbow, and steered me to the door!
“I wondered if you were serious, or sent drinks to all and sundry.” He said. “I need to get home anyway, let’s go.”
I followed his directions through Kensington and stopped in front of an attractive group of terraced houses.
“Thanks very much, here’s my number; I hope we meet again.”
He handed me his number and was out of the car and into his doorway before I could answer. We waved.
I saw him again…
And again; and again.
For a month I wined him and dined him.
After two weeks, he let me hold his hand; after three, we kissed.
At the end of August, after a late dinner, we checked into The Mitre Hotel outside Hampton Court Palace,
and in a period suite with a huge, four-poster, celebrating the end of our celibacy, we married each other!
Not quite but almost!
And what about John? After three weeks of courting Mito, I gave John the following:
The wicked wit and the studied style
oh, how it amused me, but all the while,
it was for his marvelous Machiavellian mind
that even I could eventually find
the courage to let my body be pierced.
But my suffered declarations, even sacrifices
didn’t work for long – soon came the crisis –
in his opinion, the piecing of the past
shouldn’t have been in the ear, but up the …,
and he didn’t understand my reluctance.
My sincere appreciations and true respect
wasn’t enough for JG, as long as he’d suspect
that I’d never acquiesce to his ultimate condition,
and thus, our relationship was a victim of attrition –
I guess he didn’t want friendship.
The house still glitters and’s full of tricks,
the mirrors reflect images, and neither sticks
nor stones, nor reality, will ever be allowed
to cause that silvered head to be cowed,
for that’s the way he chooses.
They say some get pierced, others snipped,
rumors always abound; I pray the clipped
are only bonds, or truly give security,
for God knows, the future can last for an eternity.
Remember me, Remember me.
John Stock found me a rental on Hill Street. Hill Street runs from the Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane down into Mayfair and, therefore, is very chic. Kitty Miller has a house here.
So down came the big abstract and the little Buddha, and on the first of September, Mito and I moved into Hill Street, W1.
Considering the people in and out JG’s illustrious life, it must have been a bit hard to take being thrown over by me for a very country boy from the wilds of the Philippines. But, stylish to the end, John came to call.
Mito was dressed in his Barong Tagalog (the fancy, banana-fabric shirt that Filipinos wear outside their trousers on important occasions).
All Johnny could muster was, “Do you cook in that?”
A few days later, it was around town that 'Bilbo' (Blass) was attending to help John get through it.
I rented a space on Piccadilly for Home Shoppers Plan. It had been a modeling school with make-up rooms, and even a cat walk, that converted well into interview offices and a training room for building our new sales force.
By December, I had recruited and trained several teams of salesmen and supervisors for greater London and had commuted all over the south of England to help with Harrison & Co.’s earlier efforts.
Then one Sunday, on a double-page, center spread, The Sunday Times* broke with an unattractive photo of me, waist up, full-face, across two-thirds of the space. The caption sang,
“WE SELL FREEZERS TO SILLY GEEZERS.”
It was only a few weeks earlier, that a training class had spontaneously come up with this Cockney, sing-song phrase. I thought then that it could be dangerous and insisted it never leave the room. Little did I know that one of the trainees was an investigative journalist from The Sunday Times. He’d composed it, now he’d published it, and there were no rights, music or otherwise, for me to argue about.
I had been fighting and winning battles against yellow journalism in the U.K. ever since IOS’s problems in early 1970. Then, the IOS/ILI sales force consisted of field-hardened, dedicated, career professionals. This, however, was too close for comfort for the neophyte salesmen and supervisors of Home Shoppers Plan. They wilted and dropped through the cracks.
*Wikipedia: The Sunday Times is the largest-selling British national newspaper in the "quality press" market category.
The Sunday Times occupies a dominant position in the quality Sunday market; its circulation of just under one million equals that of its main rivals, The Sunday Telegraph and The Observer, combined.
Coincidentally, the first period of my Hill Street rental was expiring. Again I felt I needed a change. Mito and I found a cute house in Pimlico but couldn’t move in until January so we took a one-month rental on a cute flat on Elizabeth Street in Belgravia, next door to one of my most favorite restaurants – Mimmo d’Ischia.
A birthday present to me from Mimmo, 1989.
On January 1, 1972, Mito and I moved into the cute, 3-storey house on Westmoreland Place, a small group of terraced house in the district of Pimlico, rather near Victoria Station. (In the middle of the group to the right of the green-scaffolded ones below.)
The house belonged to John Stefanidis, an internationally-known interior designer. Born in pre-war Alexandria and educated in Egypt, John moved to the UK to study at Oxford University, and was very much a part of the London scene at this time. We had met at a cocktail, were discussing houses, and he offered me his for an indeterminate period of time.
It was ideal. The dining room was in the basement, the drawing (perhaps sketching would be a better word) room, guest loo, and kitchen were on the ground floor, and the top floor had the master bed and bath, and a small guest room. Many of the walls were painted with swooshes of bold colors - it was a happening place.
Almost as soon as we were settled in, I decided I needed a total break and Mito and I flew to Naples, Florida to spend a few days with my parents and visit Disney World and Epcot in Orlando.
Mother and Dad had bought a very nice, top-floor condo in the three-storey, canal-side building at the Ambassador Club in Naples in 1968. I went to visit; there was one traffic light! I’m told my great aunt, Ruth Ransom, whose husband established the Adirondack-Florida School in Coconut Grove outside Miami in 1903, used to own some twenty miles of this coast; she should have kept it. In 1968, Naples was full of Scandinavians and northeast-coast American “snowbirds” buying second homes to escape the cold weather. Today, from Naples, north through Ft. Myers, Marco Island, and into the greater Tampa area, the west coast is teeming.
Wikipedia: Naples is a city in Collier County, Florida, United States. As of 2015, the city's population was about 20,600. Naples is a principal city of the Naples-Marco Island, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a population of about 322,000 as of 2015. Naples is one of the wealthiest cities in the United States, with the sixth highest per capita income in America, and the second highest proportion of millionaires per capita in the US. Real estate is among the most expensive in the country, with houses for sale in excess of $40 million.
The last time I saw my father, he had been undergoing radiation therapy at a hospital in Middlebury, Vermont. Here in Florida, he seemed to be fine and we had fun on the “Green Flash” touring the waterways of Naples and going out on the Gulf. Mito loved it, and my parents loved him!
I often get emails from friends and relatives visiting Naples or other seasides around the world; the caption is usually, “Waiting for the Green Flash.” Others dispute that there is such a thing, but I’ve seen it. At the moment the sun sets, a green flash sometimes occurs. I think it is within the eye – green being the complementary color to red. One of the requirements is that the sky must be completely clear – cloudless.
Wikipedia says: Green flashes and green rays are optical phenomena that sometimes occur right after sunset or right before sunrise. When the conditions are right, a green spot is visible above the upper rim of the disk of the sun. The green appearance usually lasts for no more than a second or two. Rarely, the green flash can resemble a green ray shooting up from the sunset (or sunrise) point.
My father, mother, and Mito at the Ambassador Club, Naples, Florida
After a week with my parents, and a long weekend in Orlando being “Disneyfied,” we returned to London.
February was spent with Community Projects, Ltd. We now had sales operations in Northern Ireland as well as throughout the Midlands of the UK.
Of course, I never got my shares in Home Shoppers Plan, Ltd. (who would want them now?) and, as far as I was concerned, Mr. Harrison and Co. had disappeared off the face of the map – silly geezers!
March 1972 – The usual social whirl brought Elmyr de Hory into our lives. He needed a place to stay for a week or so, and I always get a kick out of “celebrities” that don’t take themselves too seriously.
So Elmyr became our first house guest. Walking the art galleries of Bond Street and coming upon a Manet in the window of Wildenstein’s, Elmyr turned to me and said,
“Hmmm, I remember that afternoon when I started to paint this. True!”
Wikipedia: Elmyr de Hory (born Elemér Albert Hoffmann; Budapest, April 14, 1906 - Ibiza, December 11, 1976) was a Hungarian-born painter and art forger who is said to have sold over a thousand forgeries to reputable art galleries all over the world. His forgeries garnered much celebrity from a Clifford Irving book, Fake (1969); F for Fake (1974), a documentary essay film by Orson Welles; and "The Forger's Apprentice: Life with the World's Most Notorious Artist" (2012) by Mark Forgy.
On arriving in Paris after the war, de Hory attempted to make an honest living as an artist but soon discovered that he had an uncanny ability to copy the styles of noted painters. In 1946, he sold a pen and ink drawing to a British woman who mistook it for an original work by Picasso. His financial desperation trumped his scruples, as was most often the case for the next two decades.
He began to sell his Picasso pastiches to art galleries around Paris, claiming that he was a displaced Hungarian aristocrat and his offerings were what remained from his family's art collection, or that he had acquired them directly from the artist whom he had known during his years in Paris.
Elmyr de Hory always denied that he had ever signed any of his forgeries with the name of the artist whom he was imitating. This is an important legal matter, since painting in the style of an artist is not a crime - only signing a painting with another artist's name makes it a forgery.
One year following his release, Elmyr de Hory, by then a celebrity, returned to Ibiza. He told his story to Clifford Irving who wrote the biography: Fake! The Story of Elmyr de Hory the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time. De Hory appeared in several television interviews and was featured with Irving in the Orson Welles documentary, F for Fake (1974). In Welles's film, Elmyr de Hory questioned what it was that made his forgeries inferior to the actual paintings created by the artists he imitated, particularly since they had fooled so many experts, and were always appreciated when it was believed that they were genuine.
One day Elmyr took me to visit a bookseller in Covent Garden. He examined some old books, bought one, and brought it home. He tore out one of the worn endpapers, and I watched him draw a Modigliani torso – just a few strokes in less than a minute.
He explained that Modigliani’s daughter had been left out of much of the Will and he was going to put this through the letter slot in her door. She lived nearby in Belgravia. He said, “Who would question the veracity of the drawing coming from the daughter? A sale would help her a lot.”
One night we were having dinner in the basement dining room and the water heater burst. Elmyr was halfway out the basement window before I could calm him down. He thought it was the police, or worse... the Swiss men who had been in control of much of his life for years, coming after him.
Wikipedia: Forged de Hory forgeries. De Hory’s dubious distinction as an accomplished forger gave him the fame and name recognition he long desired. One offshoot of his notoriety he never anticipated, was the wealth of fake “Elmyrs” that has flooded the marketplace since his death in 1976, demonstrating the relentless resourcefulness of fraudsters and the inherent irony of this largely undetected scam.
Quite right, years later when visiting friends Willa and Jamie Elphinstone in Scotland, I admired a Renoir on an easel in the drawing room. They beamed, “It’s an Elmyr!”
Elmyr moved on.
Mito and I perused Pimlico for restaurants and shopped for groceries at Harrods.
Mito had a group of Filipino friends, some of whom had western boyfriends. We entertained a lot. Many of the Filipinos were in the UK on Education Visas – they attended Vidal Sassoon’s School! It was only a couple of years ago that Sassoon, just starting out, had come to my flat in the Watergardens to cut my hair.
The end of May, my mother called to say that Dad had become bedridden and was dying of prostate cancer that was spreading.
I told John Stefanidis that we had to give up the house, sold the Cadillac, and we flew to Naples.
The Naples Hospital had put a hospital bed alongside my mother’s in the condo. My father imagined the cables under the bed to control its movements were snakes. His hair had gone a feeble gray and I wished he couldn’t see himself in the mirrored wall over the long dressing table.
A male nurse was using the guestroom so Mito and I slept on the convertible sofa in the living room.
The family gathered. My brother drove from his home in nearby Marco Island; he was a stockbroker. My sister flew in from home in Illinois where Wim, her husband, worked for Baker McKenzie, I think.
My father got worse. He was moved to the hospital, into a large, private, ground-floor room with views of the garden. We all went to visit. When we left, Mother realized she had left her glasses behind. Mito retrieved them. He was the last of us to see him alive. He said Dad gave him a big smile.
Two days later, his ashes were interred during a peaceful service at Naples Memorial Gardens.
My father: Edward Perkins Carter, Jr., October 7, 1904 – June 13, 1972; 67 years old. Married to Margaret Leonard April 19, 1929. Three children. A gentleman.
My father - his friends called him Neddie; he called himself E. P. Carter (you had to really know him before first names were acceptable) - was born in Cleveland. He had a hearing defect from birth and taught himself to read lips. He attended Dulwich College in London – always spoke with an educated accent – and graduated from Groton, and Yale, Phi Beta Kappa. Because of his hearing problem, he was slow to make friends and kept limited company. He was highly respected for his intelligence, lack of snobbery, and sincere, good manners.
Portrait by Bachrach
Wikipedia: Bachrach Studios is one of the oldest continuously operating photography studios in the world. It was founded in Baltimore in 1868 by David Bachrach, Jr. The studio's founder, David Bachrach, took the only photo of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The studio has photographed every US Head of State since then, its founder having made it a goal to photograph all the important people he could. He sought and received permission to photograph such notables as Charles Lindbergh and Calvin Coolidge. The studio went on to produce portraits of Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Eleanor Roosevelt, Douglas Dobson, and Muhammad Ali, among others.
At Aunt Lizzie’s house, Stepleton, in England,
following proposal of marriage in Paris, 1929.
My father at Ivy Hill Road, Mt. Kisco, Westchester County, New York with wife, Marnie, and children:
Edward G.L., Christopher S., and Grace S. Circa 1945
Family get-together in Wassenaar, The Netherlands,
at the home of Grace and Wim, 1965.
Left to right: Wim van Vliet, wife, Grace, Chris, Ted, Chris’s wife Helen, and Dad.
Dade and Dad.
On retirement from the Sonotone Corp. as head of the Audiometer Department, 1958 (note Sonotone hearing aid).
Mom, Leverett Smith (ex-headmaster of The Harvey School), wife Eleanor, and Dad at High Weather, my parents’ home in Goshen, Vermont. Circa 1960.
At the boathouse of The House in the Woods,
our camp in the Adirondacks, with Bob and Polly Middleton.
With the Middletons in Naples, Florida.
Dad, Polly and Bob Middleton, and Mom and a jigsaw puzzle at High Weather.
My father had always taken care of every detail of my parent’s life together. They had been deeply in love throughout and it was something marvelous to see and experience.
Now, except for friends and family, my mother was alone; and she was amazing. Obviously, she had had time to prepare for the inevitable, but it was remarkable how her life now continued on seamlessly.
Chris and Grace returned home, and Mito and I helped organize the daily duties. Mito was a truly good cook so we didn’t have to think about meals. Mother had a good lawyer and a competent banker in Naples, and the business of Dad’s estate went smoothly. We decided to spend the summer at The House in the Woods.
The beginning of July, I drove mother and Mito in mother’s car north. Mom always like to stop at Holiday Inns “because I know where the ladies’ room is.”
We stopped for a night at my sister’s place in Northfield, Illinois, approximately 20 miles north of downtown Chicago.
Grace and I never saw much of each other. My nickname for her was Dade - I don’t know why. When I was growing up in Mt. Kisco, Dade, seven years older than I, and Chris, ten years older, were at boarding school – I grew up a slightly spoiled, only child. Dade, just naturally very conservative, followed my career with suspicion; Chris followed it with envy.
This overnight with Dade and her family was a welcome reunion. Her family consists of Rick, the oldest boy, Annette, John, and Rob. They’ve all grown up to be mature, of consequence, honest, talented, and sincere; and I haven’t seen any of them for many years – my loss.
Mito with Rob at Dade’s.
Finally, The House in the Woods on Clear Pond – my spiritual home since ever.
Walt Patnode was our caretaker; he had opened the house and checked the water and heating systems. Gladys, the laundress who lived in nearby Bloomingdale, had made the beds and sorted the linens. It was up to me to get Charlie Keough to put the Bobs II, our 1940 Chris-Craft Utility, in the water, and service the outboard. Running an Adirondack camp was not simple.
Charlie was the only person left in the world who called me Teddy. Since the early 30s, Charlie had put our boats in the water in the spring, and hoisted them out in the autumn before the ice arrived. It was Charlie that sold me the 2 ½ hp. Johnson outboard motor that I put on my grandfather’s old, steel rowboat, the “Bluebird.”
My new outboard motor, me, Dad, and the “Bluebird”
There will be a whole chapter on my family and the Adirondacks in this book so, for the time being, let me quickly summarize - My great Aunt Ruth Ransom and her husband, Paul, bought an old logging camp on Clear Pond, adjoining Rainbow Lake, in Onchiota, Franklin County, New York in 1903 to establish the northern campus of their Adirondack-Florida School. (It is represented by the darkened block entitled “Meenahga Lodge” on the map below.) The southern campus was in Coconut Grove, near Miami, Florida.
Aunt Ruth sold a lake-front parcel of her property to her brother, my grandfather, Dr. Edward P. Carter. (The deed wasn’t recorded until 1933.) It was located west of all of her school buildings, hidden in dense forest at the very end of the two-rut, dirt road. (It is the lower left quarter of the darkened parcel in the map above, and the part of the shore beneath the cabin “Nashantes” on the map below. The cove between the two halves of this property can also be seen.)
Here is the deed map:
In 1903, my grandfather, Poppy, established a carpenters’ camp further up the lake on the shore trail, hired a huge team of carpenters, and thus built a proper “suburban, main-street”- style house in the middle of the woods on the eastern (right) half of the property as in the map above. A remarkable achievement.
The wooden, shingled house had a full-height, stone basement with laundry tubs, kerosene tank, coal bin, coal-fired, hot-water heater (see Chapter One), coal-fired hot-air furnace, and a complete woodworking shop.
Above were two floors of hand-crafted, knotty-pine tongue-and-groove paneling over a support structure of massive fir beams and 2x4s that actually measured two inches by four inches. The windows were all sash-operated with full panes of glass, all the interior doors were paneled and had key locks.
The accommodations were: a very large, partially-glassed-in veranda (Granny, my grandmother, called it the Piazza), living room, dining room, butler’s pantry, kitchen with huge storage closets, a back hall with a wall-mounted, crank-operated telephone (on a party line – we were 4 rings), a tin-lined closet, a main-floor bedroom and bath, and a curved staircase leading up to three large bedrooms, each with a full bathroom, a smaller bedroom for me that shared my grandmother’s, an open office area, and a disappearing, full staircase to the full-height, with windows, attic.
There was a brick fireplace in the living room with a central chimney, and each bedroom had access to either the central chimney or the ancillary chimney for individual wood-burning stoves.
The out-buildings consisting of a dry goods and vegetable “cooler” whose safe-thick door would be cracked open during the Adirondack-cold nights, a woodshed, a two-roomed maids’ cottage with bath, a one-room cabin with bath, an ice-house, a boathouse, a small games cabin called “Black Fly Camp,” and a tree-house for me. The western (left) half was wilderness.
Left to right: Main house, Maids’ Cottage, Boat House, and, up the hill, the single cabin.
In the 20s, a group of students at the school built a small one-room cabin, across the cove, on the shore of part of the western half of the property. The leader of this group was a boy named Roebling whose ancestor had built the Brooklyn Bridge. The cabin was called Alumni Camp and served as a “party room” for visiting alumni.
Alumni Camp Circa 1920s
The concept of the project for mother’s “mourning period” (in italics because she didn’t think that such was necessary) was that she would deed me the half of the property west of the Cove on which sat the dilapidated Alumni Camp, and Mito and I would restore and enlarge the cabin – a spectacle to amuse!
Here is the map again:
Mother thought it a great idea, and through our lawyers in Saranac Lake, deeded the left half of the property to me, and presented it to me on my birthday, August 16.
I asked Walt if he knew anyone around who could give professional advice or, better yet, help a couple of novice carpenters do the job. Walt suggested Jim Helms who was the Bloomingdale drunk but a really great carpenter. Mrs. Helms thought the project might pull him out of the bottle and sent him over.
When Jim arrived, Mito and I were surveying what had to be done and what we would like to add.
Inside, there were cut tree trunks, wedged against the rafters, to hold up the roof. The front and back roof halves gapped by two feet at the ridge, and the “cricket” had pulled away from the chimney and fallen apart.
The “cricket” is a miniature double-roofed affair that bridges the main roof to the chimney. Imagine the roof of a dog house. All of its parts must be cut to different angles to seal the descending main roof to the cobblestone chimney. So the cabin was open to the snow and rain, but, amazingly, the oak floor seemed undamaged and the fireplace was sound.
Next to the fireplace was an old tin-lined box, about 3 feet by 6 feet by 2 feet deep. Inside were mildewed blankets. In front of the fireplace was a three-seat, oak-framed, leather-covered sofa; it was useable!
We pulled the box over to the sofa, sat down, and I began to draw…
The existing structure can be interpreted from the above drawing. It consisted of only the fireplace, the living area, and the porch – almost a square. I wanted to add a dining room and kitchen on the east side, a deck and steps leading to Clear Pond on the south side, and two bedrooms, a bath, and two closets on the western side.
Jim nodded and disappeared outside, up a ladder, and onto the roof. Mito and I checked the shoreline for trees that would need to come down.
After half an hour, Jim said he was going home and would be back in the morning. We shrugged.
I got out my chainsaw and Mito and I started to attack the wilderness.
Later, over drinks on the Piazza, Mother said she was thrilled with all the excitement. We slept well that night.
Jim arrived just after breakfast at 8. His pickup was full of bits of 2x4s, 2x6s, and several sheets of marine plywood. We carried it all in several trips past Black Fly Camp and over the little wooden bridges across the cove. Even though I had contracted it right away, the bulldozer didn’t finish the road to Alumni Camp until August 24.
Using come-along winches, we repositioned the tree trunks until the rear roof returned to its proper seat on the back wall. Jim went up the ladder outside, and we handed everything up to him.
I plugged a 250-foot, yellow extension cord into Black Fly Camp’s electric socket, and using the canoe, strung the cord across the cove, supported out of the water at the center by a post I hammered into a submerged tree stump. Now we had power for tools.
Jim finished the new “cricket” just before lunchtime! It was extraordinary! He’d gone home last evening with all the dimensions, cut all the pieces at home, brought them back this morning, and everything fit perfectly!
That’s how the summer went.
The view across the cove to Alumni Camp from Black Fly Camp. The yellow extension cord can just be seen at the far right like a twig sticking out of the White Birch tree to a post in the water.
The westerly view of Clear Pond shows the magic of the region. You can see how much work we had ahead of us to clean up the shoreline and remove all the fallen trees. The Adirondack Park Agency does not allow anything to be put in the water so we had to use come-alongs to pull everything onto the shore. Sometimes we used Bobs II, our 1940 Chris-Craft Utility, to do the pulling.
My father and his mother, my grandmother, Granny, in Bobs II.
The fireplace and chimney were in amazingly good shape
after fifty years of being exposed to the elements. The andirons are still there!
Mito and I and Jim dug foundations, poured concrete, built platforms of 2x8 joists, erected stud walls and covered them with sheetrock and Texture 111 knotty plywood, put in ridge poles and rafters, marine ply roofing, and asbestos shingles – twelve hours a day, seven days a week. Walt came by with Bruce to help on the really heavy stuff. We finished the first phase on September 17. Plumbing and electrics were next.
Here’s Mito shingling the new roof. The new kitchen is on the left. You can just see the tip of Jim’s “Cricket” where the chimney narrows, and, on the far right, the windows in the new guest bedroom.
The septic tank was dug under the fallen tree in the foreground. And look at all the small Balsam trees…”For thee I Pine and Balsam” was an oft-used phrase on Adirondack souvenir “smelly pillows,” as I used to call them.
Mother loved to watch. Sometimes she’d come by canoe.
We started on the outside decking September 26. Building the deck was much harder than anticipated. I wanted new levels off the old porch ending with a dock at the water’s edge. But the angle of the land fell away almost as fast as the angle of the steps; at one point I thought I’d never get the twain to meet.
Mito takes a breather; we’re almost ready to start the dock, but there’s still a lot of picking up to do - we’re going to have several years’ worth of firewood! The window of the master bedroom can be seen at the upper left.
In the distance, across the Cove, is what we called the point where this favorite picture of me at 5 years was taken.
Mother was very proud of our progress.
The house was now sealed and weatherproof. On September 29, the circuit breaker went in and we had lights! We decided we’d done enough for this season, time to relax and enjoy the woods.
We named the house, Blazes… (one finds one’s way by following blazes cut into trees, or, on the other hand, a way of telling someone to go to hell is to say, “Go to Blazes!”)
Charlie Keough called to say he had something special he wanted me to see. We went to town and there, shining in the middle of his shop, was New York’s “Stinger” mounted on a wild, “James Bond,” Glastron boat in the same livery as the engine.
Seems Johnson Outboard Motor Company had produced fifty special “Stinger” engines to celebrate their years in business and only one was reserved to be sold in each of the United States. As the most revered gent in the business in New York, Charlie was given the New York one to sell.
It was irresistible, and I bought it… and the boat!
Mito and the “Stinger.”
It was a great boat, turned on a dime, and went over forty mph
Clear Pond was part of an interconnected waterway that included adjacent Rainbow Lake. Aunt Ruth had had a cut made in the esker that separated Clear Pond and Rainbow.
At the foot of Rainbow, a branch of the Saranac River led several miles to Lake Kushaqua. From our boathouse and back is about twenty-five miles, nearly all of it wilderness, state land, or owned by friends and family.
At one point, the river goes under the old railroad tracks that once ran to Montreal. I used to waterski the whole route non-stop and back.
The New York Central Railroad Tunnel en route to Lake Kushaqua.
The Stinger at the point. Evergreens and wild blueberry bushes cover the slopes.
Mito canoeing. It’s a long way from his home - Tuguegarao in the Philippines.
Aunt Ruth erected a forest rangers’ tower on the mini-mountain – Meenahga (means blueberry in the Mohawk Indian language) - behind the school and named it Tanner Tower after one of the masters. The views of the mountains and our lakes is always inspiring. Treasure Island on Rainbow Lake is in the background.
What could be better than marshmallows at The House in the Woods.
HOWO = House in the Woods. It was the license plate of Mom’s car too.
Mito and Mom on the steps down to the boathouse.
Our project was such fun and, as planned, totally distracted my mother. It was time to close up HOWO and drive over to HIWE – High Weather, our home in Goshen, Vermont.
In 1980, my brother, sister, and I sold the total HOWO property including Blazes. The buyer sold the “Blazes” half to a car dealer from Albany, NY. I guess he likes airplanes too. Yes, that’s Blazes on the left. Can you believe having a lawn in the Adirondacks!
He really did Go to Blazes!
October 1, 1972.
The drive to Goshen, east across Lake Champlain, takes only about three hours. High Weather sits on eighty acres at the foot of Blueberry Hill (!) and looks west to the Adirondacks.
The main part of the house is probably two hundred years old. The south-facing living room is a newer extension. The master bedroom and bath, library, dining room, kitchen and utility room, and living room make up the ground floor. Upstairs are two double bedrooms, a single, and a bathroom. A three-car garage/barn sits behind the house. A duck pond is just off the living room’s stone terrace.
As soon as I had graduated from Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua in 1958, my parents moved here. The nearest neighbor is Tony Clark who owns Blueberry Hill Inn and Cross-Country Ski Center, a mile up the road.
The Vermonters respected Dad’s intelligence and quiet manner, put him on the school board of the one-room school house, and voted mother the Justice-of-the-Peace. My parents really loved it here.
Mom and I and Mito spent October readying the house for the winter. In the barn was a cute, blue Jeep we used for runs to Brandon, the nearest town with a supermarket. There was also a tractor I learned to ride, and cut the long grass on the slopes above the lawn. Mito sometimes played the little organ in the dining room.
Autumn here was much warmer than at HOWO, and we enjoyed many a long evening on the terrace watching the trees change colors.
I still had no plans for anything. I had an invitation from Jackson Kelly, an old friend from London who among many other things, had been a vice-president of Pan American World Airways, to spend Christmas at his home in Los Angeles; otherwise, nothing.
The beginning of November, we put a lamp in the living room that would come on at dusk and turn off at 10 PM – to show passers-by that someone was in, put the house to sleep for the winter, packed up mother’s car, and, after three days, arrived back at the Ambassador Club in Naples.
Mito and I stayed for two weeks to be sure Mom was on her feet, then flew to L.A. Bill Blass was onboard; I introduced Mito and we laughed. Jackson met us at LAX in his new Cadillac convertible, and we moved into his sweet house on Doheny Drive.
Don’t even think about being in L.A. without a car. I went used-car shopping on the 19th and came home with a beautiful, black, almost-new, 1972 Cadillac Eldorado.
We had a delightful Christmas with Jackson and his brother, Craig. Jackson’s background was executive with a few years off when he and Craig owned “French Leave,” a once-famous resort they built on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. It burned and dissolved, but has now been resurrected as this. Craig was rather more the artistic side of Hollywood.
There were lots of presents but the most endearing gift of all was the note from Craig who could not afford to buy any…
Three days later, Mito and I drove to Las Vegas, lost $100 on the tables, and gawked a lot.
On the way back to L.A., we took a long detour and spent New Year’s Eve with Bill and Dody Oliver at their club in Tucson. Dody (Baker) had grown up in the summers on Rainbow Lake across from HOWO. Her brother used to race boats on the Hudson River and the surviving side of one was in her boathouse. They had a beautiful Chris-Craft and the most marvelously maintained camp in our part of the woods. I think Rich, her caretaker, raked the pine needles north and south each morning!
Dody was the local celebrity. I thought she was very good looking, but she didn’t agree - she bobbed her nose to disastrous effect, I thought.
Her first husband was Charles Becker. They produced several good looking children who were great friends of mine. Daughters Judy, my age, and Niska, younger, were especially attractive. The Becker kids, me, and all my Leonard cousins, who lived at the foot of Rainbow, water skied every day regardless of weather.
After Charles came Bill, a charming guy. Here they are…
Then, twenty years later, I got the following from Mom.
Mother’s note on the clipping from People Magazine indicated that Dody used the photo as her Christmas card, and says, in spite of the article saying she’s 76, “I think she’s 80!”!
I couldn’t conceive of any reason to stay in Los Angeles so, on January 3rd, Mito and I drove north to San Francisco and checked into the Huntington Hotel at the top of Nob Hill. John Galliher had given me Tony Hail’s telephone number years ago as the only person one need’s to know in San Francisco.
I called. He lived next door at 1055 California Street and immediately invited us over for a drink. He had the most stunning apartment I had ever seen and his boyfriend, Chuck was a charmer. We soon went back next door and had dinner in the Huntington’s chic restaurant – everyone bowing and scraping to Tony and Chuck. Such a dinner party - we couldn't stop laughing the whole evening.
The next morning, we woke to the most amazing light. The sun reflects off the bay and the great houses of Pacific Heights in an aura of lightness and joy. We had to move here.
Tony invited us for lunch and introduced us to Sam Crocker who offered to help us find a house. He also insisted we move out of the Huntington and in with him. His small house was a delight and filled with unusual treasures from his decorating business such as a large collection of beautiful, antique, Portuguese export china.
Sam was unusual. He carried the Crocker name a little too proudly – he was not actually related to the famous San Francisco banking family. In fact, he was supported by a prominent business man, and, at thirty-something, had already had a facelift – appearances were important to Sam. He filled his days as a semi-professional interior designer – Tony being his mentor – and knew all the Society ladies and proper neighborhoods.
We looked at a glorious apartment in the Brocklebank Apartments – the number one address on Nob Hill. It had amazing views over the bay. Tony said the owner of the building was a buddy and client of his, Dolly Fritz Cope, who also owned the Huntington Hotel. She was vacationing at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, the Rockefeller property on the big island in Hawaii.
The phone call went something like this:
“Hello Mrs. Cope. This is Edward Carter. I am a friend of Tony Hail and have just seen Apartment 8B in the Brocklebank. My partner and I would love to lease it.”
“Yes, Mr. Carter, Tony called me this morning. He said your friend was Filipino. You understand he would have to use the servants’ entrance.”
“Never mind, Mrs. Cope. Goodbye.”
In 1988 I wrote in Edward Carter’s Travels©:
The rumors of the Huntington's demise have not been exaggerated but rejoice, there is a very special replacement at the top - a hotel for all seasons.
Wonderful, wonderful San Francisco - how clear the light is! The big red bridge pokes up through the ubiquitous morning fog-bank to landmark the Golden Gate and below, in Huntington Square, oriental gymnasts solemnly stretch-dance to an inaudible song.
In 1972, one look at this same view from the 12th floor of The Huntington Hotel upped my stakes from London to San Francisco and my life became a glittering social whirl centered here on Nob Hill. Today, while the hill's still here, most of the Nobs have either gone up or away.
The beginning of the slide of that particular set and setting was the day Dolly died.
The Huntington was a gift from old man Fritz to his daughter Dolly. He bought it for her in the midst of the depression when she was a babe. Growing up to own darn near half of Nob Hill, Dolly was the quintessential hostess with the mostest and the Huntington the center of it all. However, back stage, mole-hill problems became as steep as the streets of her home town and soon she was going to three different doctors without telling any of them. The conflicting pills were naturally counter-productive and after a particularly glittering dinner party, she died in her sleep. The morning headlines said it all, "Rich, Beautiful and Dead at 40!"
The Huntington has always been the choice of the city's most distinguished visitors but with Dolly gone, widower Newton Cope, can't (cope, that is).
Sam and Mito and I kept looking. It didn’t take us long to find 2766 Union Street, between Baker and Broderick, in Pacific Heights. 2766 was the upstairs flat in, from the street, a very plain looking, wooden house.
But it turned out there was a big garage, a cute gardenia garden, three bedrooms, and a terrific view of that big, red bridge across the Golden Gate – irresistible!
We met Mrs. Sibley, the owner. She had retired from a business designing and making silk lamp shades, bought the house, built the upstairs unit, and lived downstairs. I broke my rule about living in a property in which the owner also lived, and signed the lease on January 5th.
The next day, Mito and I drove back to Jackson’s house in Los Angeles in five hours. I called Mom about some furniture that she had agreed I could have, and I called Garfield, our part-time caretaker in Goshen, to arrange to have the furniture ready for the movers.
Monday, the 8th, I had the car serviced and the next morning, we drove north to Big Sur in heavy rain, dined at Nepenthe, and stayed at the Big Sur Inn – fabulous views to the Pacific Ocean.
Tuesday, the 10th, we arrived at Union Street and moved in. That evening, Tony, Chuck, Sam, and a dozen others arrived bringing booze and marvelous, house-warming presents. We had a new home!
The social scene in San Francisco is quite unbelievable. San Franciscans have a complex about not being New Yorkers and they take it out with a vengeance on each other… every day! It’s like being on a cruise ship. Every day there is a huge choice of cocktail parties, museum and art gallery openings, and many, many dinner parties. In season, there’s also the opera, and cotillions to rival history.
Of course, I’m talking about Tony’s scene. I quickly learned that every star of ¬-fashion, politics, Society, business, whatever, "checked in" with Tony… San Francisco was his town and he held court. I’m sure there were other scenes, as in the gay, Castro area, but, from the start, we were established in Nob Hill’s crowd - the highest of society, and we never saw anything else.
Bill Blass and me in Tony and Chuck’s beautiful apartment.
Our days were filled with assignments from Sam. Go to Harrington’s for crystal, meet John Dickenson about his unique, galvanized steel tables; make an appointment with this electrician, and that plumber. Pick out fabrics for the bedspread and bedroom curtains, the three sofas that were being made, the canvas for the dining room tent, and for the curtains in the guest room – Mother would be visiting before long.
We went antiquing and found a pair of galvanized, griffin downspouts from an Hôtel Particulier in Paris. They would set the theme for the double-height living room. I hired an air-duct contractor to clad the fireplace and chimney in galvanized steel. I wallpapered in metallic gray, mirrored the walls on either side of the chimney, and added pussy willows in galvanized buckets.
Sam made two love seats upholstered in the finest, grey flannel, and another three-seat sofa in a rich, quilted, red pattern. Suspended in mid-air was a rectangular light track with spots that highlighted each special object – a trick I learned from John Galliher.
Nanny, my mother’s mother had a favorite story. She was a very “with-it” gal in her day. She played the stock market and was always on the lookout for new things. One day, she had a friend over for some (instant) coffee she had discovered. As her houseman served, Nanny said, “This is Sanka!” and the friend said, “How do you do Sanka?”
I found a stone boy in a garden shop and knew he must be Sanka. I sat him on the galvanized Dickenson table, and he amused our guests no end.
We were out at least four nights a week at someone else’s home for dinner, but we did more than our share. Mito was fantastic – mid-afternoon I’d call from my shopping runs to say we’d be four or six or eight for dinner, and by evening, he had produced something marvelous out of our teeny kitchen. I was the sous-chef.
I had a four by eight-foot dining room table made from milk glass, tented the ceiling and walls, and mirrored the walls behind the draping. We added my family’s beautiful antique dining chairs that had arrived from Vermont and put the silver tea service on an old family trunk. It was a good looking room!
We started serious entertaining on April 1. No one realized the significance of the day until I brought out the first course – covered soup bowls. Well, I’ll let The San Francisco Chronicle's Herb Cain fill you in…
Val Arnold was another hard-working interior designer.
From another dinner for Tony…
And Mito in his Barong…
Mother’s silver tea service on top of Nanny’s trunk which, even today in Thailand,
I am using as a bureau for tools.
Although you could never tell it from my diary, life wasn’t all parties; we also went sailing with Bob Bell and Lou Walker.
They were one of a number of long-term couples that made up our best friends. Some had country houses. We spent a nice weekend at Tim Crusi’s Yellow Jacket Ranch, and went to Val Arnold’s for lunch.
Tony, who majored in Architecture at Harvard, used to tease Val who got his start as a Barcalounger salesman. However, talent will out and Val was a success.
We could never forget that Mito was in the United States on a Tourist Visa. To prepare for the day when this would be challenged, we decided he best go to some sort of school. He enrolled in the San Francisco Art Institute and went to school every day. One of his classmates painted sculpted canvasses; I bought some to fill the empty walls of our new home.
The beginning of May, Horst, the great photographer, came to town, as did Desmond Guinness, an old friend of Tony’s and John Galliher. Picked by the group to do the dinner, Mito and I cooked and served for 19!
Horst in the center, Chuck Posey on the right.
The Stasha Halpern can be seen behind Horst – it’s just not home without it.
Wikipedia: Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann (August 14, 1906 – November 18, 1999) who chose to be known as Horst P. Horst was a German-American fashion photographer.
In the 1960s, encouraged by Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, Horst began a series of photos illustrating the lifestyle of international high society which included people like: Consuelo Vanderbilt, Marella Agnelli, Gloria Guinness, Duke of Windsor and Duchess of Windsor, Antenor Patiño, Oscar de la Renta and Françoise de Langlade, Desmond Guinness and Princess Henriette Marie-Gabrielle von Urach, Andy Warhol, Nancy Lancaster, Yves Saint Laurent, Doris Duke, Emilio Pucci, Cy Twombly, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Amanda Burden, Paloma Picasso and Comtesse Jacqueline de Ribes.
The articles were written by the photographer's longtime companion, Valentine Lawford, a former English diplomat.
From this point until nearly the time of his death, Horst spent most of his time traveling and photographing. In the mid-1970s, he began working for House & Garden magazine as well as for Vogue.
His last photograph for British Vogue was in 1991 with Princess Michael of Kent, shown against a background of tapestry and wearing a tiara belonging to her mother in law Princess Marina who he had photographed in 1934.
He died at his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, at 93 years of age.
Mito and I got a nice thank you note from Horst.
And from where did he mail it?
Douglas Cooper’s Château! You see how very small our group is!
Mother arrived the next week and I surprised her with a dinner the next day for Judy Becker. Judy, Dody’s eldest daughter, was my old waterski buddy from Rainbow lake.
Mother told me that Aunt Marnie, her mother’s sister, had died. Aunt Marnie was a character. She was married three times ‘for her money’ which she always denied having, and insisted to be supported by her sister, Nanny. When she died, there was half-a-million dollars in her checking account! Mother said I would be getting a small distribution and I should do something silly with it.
Mother went home to Florida on the 24th.
The 25th was Chuck’s birthday; Tony got especially silly.
After that, all was quiet… until the 31st.
I was in the kitchen when the phone rang. A woman from the United States Immigration office in San Francisco said,
“Immigration sees no logic to Mito’s attending art school.
"His Student Visa application is denied and he will have to leave the country by the middle of June!"
My world, and his, came crashing down around our heads. We’d been together for nearly two years; what would happen now?
I wrote Thad Lovett that Mito would be coming to Paris and asked him to tuck him under his wing until we could work things out.
We kept entertaining as though nothing had happened. Tony gave Mito a grand going away party on June 12.
Mito left for Paris on Thursday, the 14th.
Jackson Kelly called from London the next day to report that he had landed a deal with something called Beefalo and could I help him set up a sales organization in Europe?
On Saturday, I flew to London arriving on Sunday and called Thad and Mito. Mito was going to enroll in the Vidal Sassoon Hairdressing School in London but needed to wait in Paris for his UK Student Visa. I had dinner that evening with his best friends, Petusa and Ron who were also enrolling in the same school.
The next day, I had dinner with Jackson and Gil Karnig. Gil called himself “colonel” and seemed a professional sycophant to me. However, in time, Gil and I became loyal friends and business colleagues.
On Tuesday, I had lunch with Johnny Galliher; he wasn’t very sympathetic about Mito’s travails.
I flew to Geneva on Wednesday for eight days of meetings that included several bankers, many lawyers, and even Sam Welker. On Friday, I flew to Paris and Mito joined me at the Intercontinental Hotel. The next day, we had dinner with Thad, and flew to Geneva together on July 1 for more meetings.
On the fourth of July, Mito and I flew to London and stayed at the Europa Hotel until the seventh.
I turned over my files to Jackson and Gil – I’d accomplished more than they’d asked.
Mito and I lunched, shopped, dined, saw old friends, and said goodbye again on Sunday as I boarded a flight to New York, then Albany, then Rutland, Vermont, and taxied to HIWE. What kind of a life was this?
The next day, I got out the tractor and cut the long grass, went marketing, did the laundry, wrote Mito, and made mother’s bed. Arriving tomorrow, she will have been on the road from Florida for four days.
On Wednesday, we drove over to HOWO. I put the furniture on the point, raked the paths, and got a fire going in the furnace. It was cold and Mother didn’t feel very well. Mito called.
The rest of July I made flower boxes, refinished the Chris-Craft, and, at Blazes, worked on the plumbing, put up paneling, built steps, and put up fences. On the 31st, the bathroom was finished and I flushed Champagne down the loo to celebrate! I wrote Mito almost every other day. He telephoned at least once a week.
My Mother’s very good friends, the Middletons, arrived on August 1.
I kept working on Blazes. On the 11th, I was elected a Director of the Rainbow Lake Association, and on the 16th, my birthday, Mito called. My brother, Chris, also called to report on his trip to Virgin Gorda. He said he had “found it” with friends and that the only way to get ashore was by rowboat. That doesn’t quite jibe with what Wikipedia has to say about it today, but that was 1973.
Wikipedia: Virgin Gorda is the third-largest and second most populous of the British Virgin Islands (BVI). It covers an area of about 8 square miles. Christopher Columbus is said to have named the island "The Fat Virgin", because the island's profile on the horizon looks like a fat woman lying on her side.
The rest of August, I framed the windows, put in skirting, had a wallpaperer do the bedroom walls and ceilings, and finally had LP Gas bottles installed. On the 29th, I bought a stove for the kitchen and a hot water heater. There was hot water! The house was finished! It had taken a total of thirteen weeks from the start last year. Fun!
September sixth, I gave a big cocktail party in Blazes for everyone on the lakes. Mito called that he had seen Chuck Posey in London, and he was going to see Tony and Chuck at the Connaught Hotel tomorrow.
Over the next two days, I closed up Blazes and HOWO, and with the barometer dropping, put up the Chris-Craft for the winter, took the water pipes out of the lake, and put up shutters. The next morning, Mom and I were in HIWE in two and a half hours, and I called Mrs. Sibley that I would be back in San Francisco by Monday. On Friday, Mom and I started the drive to Naples. We were in Tampa’s Holiday Inn by Sunday. On Monday, I flew to SFO and Mother drove on to Naples on her own.
October fifth, Desmond Guinness gave a dinner; I took June Murphy, a new society friend who lived in the Brocklebank. This is in her glorious apartment on Nob Hill.
Except for my quick trip to Europe to help Jackson set up his Beefalo marketing business, I had done nothing in the way of business since leaving London for Naples in June 1972. Then Tony had a bright idea. He liked some of the pieces done by Steven Rogers, Mito’s classmate at the Art Institute.
In the background, on the left, Sanka is sitting on the Dickenson bar.
The "spotted" pillow is one of many Bargello (needlework) pillows Mito made.
Tony felt some of his clients’ home could do with some freshening new art. We sold the first piece to Mrs. Cooley, the wife of the head of Wells Fargo Bank. With that under our belt, we visited galleries and, not knowing much more than what we liked, picked up, on consignment, “green paintings for green walls.” We would hang the paintings in Tony’s clients’ homes and Tony would sell. It worked; we made several sales and quite a bit of money.
On the ninth, I gave a dinner for David Hicks, the great English interior designer who married Pamela Mountbatten.
Amazon: David Hicks is acknowledged as one of the most important interior designers of the late twentieth century, in the company of Albert Hadley and Billy Baldwin. Known for his bold use of color, eclecticism, and geometric designs in carpets and textiles, Hicks turned English decorating on its head in the ’50s and ’60s. His trademark use of electrifying color combinations, and mixing antiques, modern furniture, and abstract paintings became the "in style" for the chic of the day, including Vidal Sassoon and Helena Rubinstein. By the ’70s, David Hicks was a brand; his company was making wallpaper, fabrics, and linens and had outposts in eight countries, including the U.S. where he worked with the young Mark Hampton, and where his wallpaper was used in the White House. "My greatest contribution as an interior designer has been to show people how to use bold color mixtures, how to use patterned carpets, how to light rooms, and how to mix old with new,’’ he stated in his 1968 work, David Hicks on Living—with Taste, the last authoritative book on his work.
Wikipedia: Lady Pamela Carmen Louise Hicks is a British aristocrat. She is the younger daughter of the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma by his wife, Edwina Mountbatten. Through her father, Lady Pamela is a first cousin of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and a great niece of the last Tsarina of Russia, Alexandra Feodorovna.
On November 2, the check from Aunt Marnie’s estate arrived. Mother had said, “Do something silly.” I did - I went out and bought a Cadillac Fleetwood and took it to ASC, a custom car shop in South San Francisco, to be stretched and tweaked into a fabulous limousine. Silly enough?
As I had traded in my Eldorado for the Fleetwood, I need a car, and bought a bright yellow VW convertible! Me and cars – crazy huh!
There were ten of us for Thanksgiving dinner. Tony and Chuck sent over a “Care” package of cognac in the afternoon.
It was such fun, we decided to do it again… for Christmas… in Vermont… at High Weather! So, on December 20, I flew to Rutland, Vermont and taxied the hour to Goshen and HIWE.
The next day, I cleaned the house, made the beds, and had dinner at Blueberry Hill with Tony Clarke who had bought it after the Mastertons had gone. Mother liked Tony a lot and gave him a lot of furniture we had in storage.
Saturday, December 22, it was snowing – we were going to have a white Christmas! The gang of four arrived from San Francisco. Tony and Chuck and I went to the Grand Union in Brandon and did the shopping for four days. Christmas Eve we went to nearby Woodstock and dined in the Woodstock Inn’s Rathskeller.
Dinner on Christmas started at four in the afternoon and lasted until midnight. Wonderful fun!
We split up at the Rutland Airport on Boxing Day and I checked into the Algonquin in Manhattan.
The next week, I wined and dined with old friends: Johnny Galliher, Bill Blass, Billy Baldwin, Freddie Lister, Steve Kauffman, and Anne and Dustin Hoffman. And every night, danced at Le Jardin.
[Anne was in the class behind me at Horace Greeley, and was my best friend’s girlfriend at that time. One day, I bumped into her on Madison Avenue. While we were chatting, a crowd grew. She said, “Oh, you haven’t met my husband, Dusty.” It was Dustin Hoffman.]
I closed out 1973 with dinner with John Galliher on New Year’s Eve. The house still glitters and’s full of tricks, but he bowed his silvered head, wished me good luck, and kissed me goodnight.
Being in Manhattan reminded me why the San Franciscans have an inferiority complex about New Yorkers. The silly “San Francisco Cruise Ship” I had been on since January was certainly beginning to cloy. It was time for me to get my life back on track… time for a new chapter.
END OF CHAPTER EIGHT
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