Chapter Sixteen – 1979-1986
Creating, Establishing, Managing, and Selling
(Equivalent to 336 pages in hard-copy)
William Avery Rockefeller, Betty Rockefeller,
the Biddles, Angier Biddle Duke, Kitty Miller, Jules Bache, Bob Tebbutt,
Mito Catral, Joe and Clarissa Blagden,
Sam and Polly Bodine, Sally Packard, Parker Packard, Don Wynn,
Liz and George Packard, Charlie and Pooh Ritchie, Gus Dukette, Shirley,
Mrs. Edward P. Carter, Jr., John Dickenson, John Brewer,
Poppy and Granny Carter, Aunt Ruth Ransom, David Sulzberger,
General William Tecumseh Sherman, Nanny Leonard, John Macfarlane,
Audré Nethercott, Tom and Alix Dame, Tommy Gallaher, Lester Lanin,
Mary Kinsolving, Rev. Dr. Arthur Lee Kinsolving, David Carter, John Kay,
Marjorie Merriweather Post, Kevin Grammercy, Tim Sullivan, Bruce Bolton,
Gil Karnig, Rudyard, Robert Carrier, Alan Reyburn, Donna Kendall, Sonya Henie, Betsy Boyd, Princess Vera, Eddie Carroll, Brendan Carroll,
Prince Egon von Furstenberg, Alexandre von Furstenberg,
Tatiana von Furstenberg, Diane Simone Michelle Halfin, Governor Cuomo,
Helen Carter, Pegeen and Ed Fitzgerald, Liz Packard, Lena Horne,
James W. Myhre, Dotty, Charlie Keough, Tom Doty,
the Simmonds, the Trudeaus, Dr. Trudeau, Gary Trudeau,
Andre and Jocelyne Daguin, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Atkinson, James Vilas,
Andrew Harper, René Lecler, Chris and Helen Carter, Johnny Galliher,
Mr. & Mrs. Nowakowski, Calvin and Khaki, John O’Hara,
MayMay Leonard, the Litchfields, Barbara Jacoby,
M. and Madame Joseph Olivereau, Wallace and Windsor,
Mr. & Mrs. Myhre, Bernie Cornfeld, John Travolta, Bill Masse,
Mike Beuttler, George Hamilton, Jack Soles, Tony Hail, Chuck Posey, Bob Bell,
Ralph Lauren, Col. Hank Snow and Anne Snow, Bill Raidy, Freddie,
Bob Carrier, Mohammad, Jane Montant, Mathias Oppersdorff, Geri Trotta, Jean Farr,
Anne Katherine Markowitz, Frieda Rich, Dinah Reath, Joe Scott,
the Martin Stones, Peter Wirth, Roberto Wirth, Gretchen and Mr. Bellinger, Tommie Gallagher, Dick Ford, Anthony, Gillie, Spencer Jenkins, Marianna Field Hoppin, Bedford Pace,
George and Ruth Ball, Al Cavalieri, Cary and Chad Krepp,
David and Christie Garrett.
Moments from Chapter Sixteen
The architect said, “This is my dream house. No one’s ever going to build it;
it has one-inch slate roofs, bronze window frames, and steam heat!”
Rockefeller looks more closely at the plans,
then fixing Distin with his steely eyes, says,
“You and I are going to build it.
I know a huge rock on which to construct it, and that’s what I’ll call it,
“Big Rock” – Wonundra in an Australian aboriginal language – Camp Wonundra!
"Someday when you are very old and very rich, you should buy that place. It was built by William Avery Rockefeller, and is the last of the Adirondack Great Camps!”
"This place is so beautiful, you really ought to share it.
It would make a fabulous hotel; why not take P.G.s - Paying Guests?
One of the earliest P.G.’s at The Point was Prince Egon von Furstenberg,
a scion of European nobility and now a presence in the Manhattan fashion trade.
“When I was a child in Europe,” recalls von Furstenberg, “I remember my parents sending me to one of the Hapsburg castles in Austria as a paying guest. The Point was rather like that.
Ted Carter knows how to make you feel at home.
He’s a man of the world, and his home is a very nice one.” American Vogue
After an interview on late-night radio, my summer was filled with dozens of
insomniac geriatrics from New York and New Jersey!
The grand seigneur of The Point is a dashing forty-year-old named Ted Carter, who has made, lost, and remade so many fortunes, he doesn’t seem to keep count. Very Special Places
Carter is a patrician himself, a descendant from the colonial Governor William Bradford, the “inventor of Thanksgiving.” He is a sophisticated, elegant man who has managed to create an anachronism – a grand style of living in a time when it is totally impractical to be doing so.” Burlington County Times
I named the barge “After You.”
Life was grand, but I could use another hand, and, deep down, I was lonely -
I put an ad in The Advocate and got 137 replies!
James wrote, “Maybe I can put The Point on a bigger scale – A MUCH BIGGER SCALE.”
I can see a cowboy hat! Can you believe it?! As he walked toward me, Jim came out of the shadow of the wing, and my knees went weak… he was gorgeous!
Who were they? I hadn’t a CLUE – Was it Colonel Mustard in The Library with Hamburgers!
“The food is the absolute finest,
labored over by a self-trained superchef named James Myhre and a small staff
dedicated to the proposition that dining should be one of life’s pleasures.”
New York Daily News
“The kitchen is headed by a brilliant young chef named James Myhre who makes mealtimes memorable events.” The Hideaway Report
Edward G.L. (Ted) Carter, a suave and worldly wonder of a man.
New York Daily News
The Hideaway Report selects us as one of the twelve “hideaways of the year” in the world!
The New York Daily News asked…” Is James Myhre is going to Hintlesham to learn or to teach!”
We took the remains back and got another one –
our 2 x $3000 dishwasher could do a load in THREE MINUTES!
Eddie Carroll whispered in my ear and, nodding toward James, said,
“Now if that isn’t an expression of love, I don’t know what is!”
Barbara had to duck under my arm, but we still won
the Best Dancers’ prize for Westchester County!
The Point becomes the 4th member of Relais et Châteaux in the entire USA!
The new year starts with a bang... I’m on the cover of Forbes magazine!
James shared the sauna with John Travolta
Bernie’s house had belonged to George Hamilton who was also at dinner.
I couldn’t figure what looked better – the house or the man.
“The Point is absolutely, but absolutely, lovely, a place in which everything you see is total perfection of taste with priceless pieces scattered about in glorious extravagance.”
In total contrast to the gangsters, blue-nosed, blue-stockinged, and blue-haired,
Jane Montant, the editor of Gourmet Magazine, arrives.
“It’s The New York Times, they’ve ‘discovered’ us.”
And with that, I decided to make another point – anything can be done, anywhere!
I put the check in the middle of the guest’s plate – “Leave!”
“So what has it got? Now we know what it’s not.
What’s is its own special direction?”
The point of The Point lies in being The Point.
And that’s what it does to perfection!
David Garrett said, “Maybe I’d like to buy the boat company.”
I looked him in the eye and said, “Why don’t you buy the whole place?”
Preface to Chapter Sixteen
1. Chapter Fifteen – 1978 - revisited…
“All my life, except for trips to the villages of Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, and to attend Camp Dudley, and visit Ausable Chasm and Fort Ticonderoga, I had never had any interest in being away from The House in the Woods (HOWO) and our waterways.
“For more than one hundred years, the region of Saranac Lake has been famous for its fresh air’s curative properties as a Tuberculosis Cure Center. Dr. Trudeau (Gary’s grandfather), sometimes helped by my grandfather, was instrumental in putting Saranac Lake on the map. Will Rogers build a hospital here, Robert Louis Stevenson had a “cure cottage” here, and many well-known families, such as the Rockefellers, the Baches, and the Sulzbergers built “camps” here.
“Of course, the beautiful lakes are the main attractions. Lake Placid sits on Mirror Lake, the village of Saranac Lake sits on Lake Flower, and the three Saranac Lakes – Lower, Middle, and Upper – wash the shores of the significant private homes. Upper Saranac is the most prestigious. Hourglass-shaped, its northern half hosts the families of “mainline” Philadelphia -mainly WASP; its southern, New York City banking families – mainly Jewish. Many have never crossed the “red line” of “The Narrows” – where William Avery Rockefeller’s Camp Wonundra sits sentinel.
“At the north end, a hotel, Saranac Inn, and its cottages was summer home to many would-be “sophisticated summer people.”
“September 15, 1978
“This summer, talking about it for the first time, my brother and sister and I could not agree over responsibilities at The House in the Woods which we had inherited. I was loath to leave the spot that had been my home nearly every summer since the age of eight months, but I started to look on other lakes.
“Bob Tebbutt, a neighbor, suggested we visit Upper Saranac Lake, and we trailed a boat there that afternoon. As we went down the lake, he pointed out the camps of the socially-registered, "Main Line," Philadelphia families. Beyond “The Narrows,” south of the Main Line group, there was the “Our Crown” tribe - a Lehman brother or two, Otto Kahn’s camp, and Jules Bache's home (his daughter Kitty was a buddy of mine.)
“We circled around, and back above “The Narrows,” passing a large granite point sticking out from a densely wooded peninsula, Bob yelled above the scream of the motor, "Someday when you are very old and very rich, you should buy that place. It was built by William Avery Rockefeller, and is the last of the Adirondack Great Camps!”
“Not being able to see anything more than a boathouse, I shrugged.
The next morning, out of breath, he telephoned. "You won't believe it, it's for sale!"
“What’s for sale?”, I asked.
“The Rockefeller place. It’s for sale! Do you want to go see it?”
“My family had always looked down on the Rockefellers and as I had not been able to see it as we drove by, I was not impressed. But, since what was left of my family, except for Mother, didn’t give a damn about my maintaining The House in the Woods, I said to myself, “Screw them, I’ll get my own camp,” and said to Bob…
“That might be fun. Yes, let’s go.”
“We drive over to see it; Bob knows the way. Down a mile-long, rough, dirt road, we see an unkempt tennis court on the right; soon a tired building on the left. Now we are on a partially paved, weedy driveway. Across an unkempt lawn, there’s a log cabin on the right; straight ahead, a long, log house; and, across the circular drive, a two-story garage on the right. Everything looks bedraggled and tired but, I had to admit, the estate had magnificent “bones.”
“My knocking swings the front door open; there’s no one about. We walk into a huge, high-ceilinged room with a fireplace at each end, massive ceiling trusses, bronze-handled windows, and rare paneling… as Bruce would say, “It was beyond of dreams of princesses.”
“I’ll have it.” I say out loud; and, after the “vetting committee” of next-door neighbors, Joe and Clarissa Blagden, and Sam and Polly Bodine, learned I was in the Social Register, and that mine was the ‘first family of Onchiota’ and founders of the Adirondack-Florida School… I did.”
2. Camp Wonundra - Origin
William Distin was the architect of many of the ‘Great Camps’ and maintained an office in Saranac Lake. During the Depression, William Avery Rockefeller II*, who had a vast holding at Bay Pond in the Adirondacks not far away, to help “keep the wolf from his door,” put Distin on retainer to tend to repairs and modifications. One day, Rockefeller walked into Distin’s office and, spying drawings of a camp on his drawing board, challenged him, “Are you doing work for someone else?”
“No,” Distin replied. “This is my dream house. No one’s ever going to build it; it has one-inch slate roofs, bronze window frames, and steam heat!”
Rockefeller looks more closely at the plans, then fixing Distin with his steely eyes, says, “You and I are going to build it. I know a huge rock on which to
construct it, and that’s what I’ll call it, “Big Rock” – Wonundra in an Australian aboriginal language – Camp Wonundra!
Notes: Camp Wonundra was built by William A. Rockefeller II between 1930 and 1933 on Whitney Point, above Fish Creek Bay, on Upper Saranac Lake, on land he bought from Henry Blagden. The camp was designed by William Distin.
The main lodge is a large, one-story building with three wings and an octagonal vestibule. The structure contains six, large, stone fireplaces. Other buildings include a guest house, a boathouse, a log lean-to, a pump house, a two-story garage with gardeners' quarters, a woodshed, and a sugar house.
Erected at a cost of over $100,000 by the Blagden Construction Co. of New York City after plans, also prepared by Mr. William G. Distin of Saranac Lake, the new Rockefeller camp is a notable addition to the imposing summer homes for which the Adirondack region is famous.
The camp is a log construction with rough stone foundations and comprises four units, the main lodge being devoted to a large living room with big stone fireplaces at either end. Among its conveniences are steam heat, running water, hardwood floors throughout, and an intercommunicating, telephone service…
Rockefeller sold the camp in 1969 to Briggs, McCoy, and Gillespie, who called it Camp Cork. They sold the camp to Edward Carter in 1978. Carter renamed it The Point and, starting in 1980, allowing paying guests to stay, established it as one of the best resorts in the world.
In 1986, Carter sold it to David and Christie Garrett. Since 1986, it has been operated by David and Christie Garrett as The Point, an upscale resort; 2011 rates, including tax and gratuity, range from about $1700 to $3400 per night.
* Mr. William A. Rockefeller II (1896–1973) was a grand-nephew of Mr. John D. Rockefeller Sr. William Avery Rockefeller II was the son of William G. Rockefeller. William G. Rockefeller was the third child of Standard Oil co-founder William A. Rockefeller, Jr., the brother of John D. Rockefeller, and the grandson of William A. Rockefeller, Sr.
Chapter Sixteen – 1979-1986
Creating, Establishing, Managing, and Selling
When she heard I’d bought it, my best friend, Sally Packard, was amazed.
Even though we had both grown up in Chappaqua, New York, I didn’t meet Sally until I started working on Blazes and spiffing up The House in the Woods.
Sally and her husband, Parker (from Philadelphia’s “Main Line”), had an unusual home on Upper Saranac. The only thing I remember about it was a beautiful painting of the moon they had hung very high up over some bookcases; in a subtle way, at least for me, it dominated the room.
The Packards owned The Adirondack Store - half-way between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.
The store was the only up-market source for things Adirondack in the area and was well known for its stylish mail-order catalog. Besides the requisite smelly-pillows, they carried fine Adirondack, antique furniture; old and new paintings by regional artists – one, Don Wynn, had painted the moon painting I liked so much; contemporary hickory furniture, and stylish lamps. I almost entirely refurnished HOWO with things from their store, all of which eventually made their way to The Point.
Sally and Parker had two children, Liz and George. Both went to the best schools and enjoyed a sophisticated upbringing. Sadly, by the time I bought The Point, Sally and Parker had decided to call it quits, and gave up their home on Upper Saranac Lake. The last time I saw them together was at my “38 Special” birthday party in August 1978 at HOWO.
Sally took a house in Lake Placid and dedicated herself to running the store with the help of retired Philadelphians, Charlie and Pooh Ritchie, who also lived on the lake.
Even though the sale was agreed in the autumn of 1978, I didn’t return to the Woods from London until the Spring of 1979.
On May 18, I landed at Montreal, drove down after dark, and finally finding the light switches, took possession of Camp Cork/Wonundra. Gus Dukette, the caretaker, was nowhere to be found, but there was food in the fridge and wine in the rack, and I went to bed, soon full of dreams for the morrow.
During breakfast, Gus comes in. His father had been Rockefeller’s caretaker, and Gus is possessive about the place.
I start to make a checklist with little boxes next to each item – this was to be my routine for years to come.
My first check box was to tell Sally I was in camp. She was thrilled, knew I had my hands full, but came over bringing the Don Wynn painting as a housewarming present!
The other check boxes had to do with power, heat, and water…
Gus and I go down under the kitchen into the basement that had been chiseled out of solid granite. In fact, the whole ten acres of the camp at the end of the mile-long peninsula is solid granite.
In the basement is a huge oil-fired furnace and a 300-gallon, horizontal hot water tank. There are five bathrooms, and many sinks in the pantry, kitchen, and utility rooms in this building. A two-foot crawl space allows access under the floor joists throughout.
The furnace produces steam that runs throughout the three-winged building to radiators under every window. In addition, each of the four bedrooms has a stone fireplace, and there are two in The Great Hall. In the winter, this building alone consumes 1000 gallons of fuel oil for heating and hot water, plus a cord of wood - a stack 8 feet long, by four feet deep, by four feet high – as supplementary heating.
From this basement, hand-chiseled trenches, four feet deep and two feet wide, carry the water pipes and electrical cables to the two-story, two-car garage; the Rockefeller’s cabin that I call The Guest House; and from The Guest House to the woodshed at the entrance to the property. The trenches are filled with coal dust as insulation.
The water comes up the hill from the pump house located across the isthmus from the boathouse. The intake is off the southern shore of the point in about twenty feet of water. It pumps on demand into a 5000-gallon storage tank inside the pumphouse. The water is not filtered – it’s is purer than New York City water, deemed by experts to be the best tasting in America.
All waste water descends to the septic field excavated in the isthmus that was created for the purpose.
The boathouse bathroom and kitchen are fed directly from the pump house and to the septic field.
Camp Wonundra was built between 1931-1933 at the height of the Depression when everyone cherished his job and always did more than that which he was asked. I even found a paper shim between the support and a closet shelf in a maid’s room to make it perfectly level!
I am a stickler that everything works, and that everything has its place and is kept there. I misplaced my father’s small, black-handled screwdriver from the hall closet in Westchester once. ONCE WAS ENOUGH! (I still go crazy today when I can’t find a certain red, long-handled, Phillips screwdriver that I keep in a certain kitchen drawer to tighten the lousy frying pan handles that ought to be riveted on but are screwed instead. Somewhere, behind the wainscoting are dozens of red, long-handled, Phillips screwdrivers that are being hoarded by a certain mouse!)
So, every day is a challenge – inspect everything, fix anything, maintain, maintain, maintain.
That May, the staff consisted of Gus (his wife was not an employee), and me.
Some of the furniture and most the boats were brought over from The House in the Woods, and, Shirley, who cooked and cleaned for me at HOWO, came with them, and became employee number three.
Shirley was great. She had a strange limp but never talked about it. All I knew was that she was a Navaho Indian and had a little house in a nearby village that was shingled on the road-facing side but, as she couldn’t afford it, not in the back. She used to cook for an Italian restaurant and knew how to make the best “gabanabo” (spaghetti carbonara) I’ve ever had. She also made wonderful fruit pies, biscuits, muffins, and bread.
The phone rang; Shirley answered, “Oh, Mrs. Carter, you won’t believe where we are; it’s so beautiful.”
I picked up the phone; I hadn’t bothered to tell Mom about buying Wonundra. She was used to me, took it in her stride, and looked forward to coming.
Need to make a point here. My new home was nothing more than a replacement for The House in the Woods – just like WaAwA - a private, Adirondack camp for family, friends, and friends of friends to enjoy in unselfconscious ease. I never had a thought of using it for any kind of commercial purpose. Never!
More Checklist items:
Name the Camp, name the buildings, name the rooms, ask Sally to help.
On the map, the end of the peninsula was called “Whitney Point.” The Whitneys were cousins, and I wanted to make a point with my own place, so the name was a natural – The Point.
For a while I called the main building The Long House – Indian fashion, but, in the end, I didn’t call it anything but the main house or main lodge.
The main lodge - the lake side
The main lodge - kitchen door on the left, front door in the center
At auction, I bought what was purported to be “the world’s largest Moose rack,” and hung it over the front door.
One entered through an octagonal vestibule – the perfect place to hang 8 deer heads – so I called it Reindeer Hall. It was the dining room for six or fewer diners.
“The Great Hall” sounded sort of grand, but it was grand in a rustic way. 50 feet by 30 feet, it was the perfect gathering room for games, sitting around the fires, and, if there were many, there was plenty of room to set up tables for lunch or dinner. So, The Great Hall it is.
I wasn’t wild about the flawless, caramel-colored paneling. I was tempted to fly my London painter over to paint knots all over it. Then, one day a young Rockefeller grandniece, who was the local Stihl chainsaw dealer, came for lunch. She brought me the original blueprints and some of Distin’s sketches, and… told me that the paneling was the center-cut of scores of logs – carefully selected to be knot-free! I left it as it was.
We usually used this end of the room for chatting and cocktails. Sally helped me arrange the furniture. You will recognize the John Dickenson galvanized-steel table flanked by the two 18th-century, French, wingless-griffin down-spouts from San Francisco. John Brewer made the gray sofas for me for 265 East 66th.
When I have more than six to dine, I use this end of The Great Hall. The hickory chairs were Poppy and Granny’s and came from The Old Hickory Chair Company.
Usually, Adirondack camps that are vacant nine months of the year, are furnished with simple things. Those simple things have now become collectors’ items.
I found the china in the attic of The House in the Woods. It is 18th-century Meissen that belonged to Aunt Ruth; each piece is worth more than $1000 today! The silver pieces have been in the family for several generations; the silverware and crystal came from Harrod’s and was shipped over with the rest of my things.
Sometimes, when the mood hit me, I’d rearrange the whole room into a dining room. This photograph was the entire center spread of GEO Magazine.
This was the usual dining arrangement unless we had a house-full. In that case, I’d have two tables of eleven people each (and I always split up couples).
"Gladly," the cross-eyed bear, is hanging on the left.
Through The Great Hall and up six steps, one finds the Library on the right - I named it Algonquin, the name of an Indian tribe, and, further on down the corridor, a large bedroom. I named it Mohawk, the name of the local Indian nation.
I bought a bed and a convertible sofa-bed for Algonquin and moved the king bed from Blazes into Mohawk.
Here they are in 1979:
There are several first-editions and lots of ancient family treasures on the shelves. The bench in front of the fire was from my grandmother’s spinet piano. The lamp on the left is typical of The Adirondack Store.
David Sulzberger, of The New York Times’ Sulzbergers, was a buddy in London and owned a rare-carpet business. He took one look at the carpet I was standing on and said, “Get that off the floor and on to a wall. It’s more valuable than you’d ever imagine.” So here it is on the wall over the fireplace.
The “coffee table” in front of the Morris settee with matching rocker, is the wooden, Army footlocker that belonged to my great, great, great uncle, General William Tecumseh Sherman.
Note also the Dutch marquetry chairs – these were Nanny’s, my mother’s mother, and I’ve “cartered” them around the world many times.
If one turns right in Reindeer Hall, down two steps, Iroquois is on the left, then a linen closet full of generations-old, real, linen sheets, pillow cases, and hand towels embroidered with “Wonundra” (compliments of the Rockefellers!), and further down the corridor is Morningside.
The “coffee table” is a laundry basket from The House in the Woods, and the image over the fireplace is one of the set of my Macfarlane, Alice in Wonderland posters.
To let you in on a secret, I bought most of the ready-made curtains and bedspreads from J.C. Penney in nearby Plattsburg; Audré donated many of the other fabrics for upholstery and the curtains in The Great Hall.
All the closets were full of wooden hangers marked W.R. (William Rockefeller); I still have one here in Thailand…
Off The Great Hall are the pantry, kitchen, staff dining room, loo, two staff bunk rooms, and a dry-goods store room.
The lower, double-doored cabinet in the pantry is the plate-warming oven. To the left of the booze is a sink in which the silverware was washed… one piece at a time - so as not to touch each other and dent. The glass-fronted cabinets all came from Brooklyn in 1933.
I had two, basic, four-burner, domestic stoves each with an oven and broiler, and bought a three-glass-door delicatessen display refrigerator. The joy of not having to open the door to see what or where something is, is a real treat.
The fridge (below) is built into the wall and came with the camp. Don’t you love the mirror – the servers can check how they look before going out into The Great Hall.
That summer, across the driveway, Gus and his wife lived above the garage. At the back of the building was The Guide’s Room – a very simple single-bedded room with a bath and a screened-in porch - of which there are no photographs for a couple of years until I fixed it up.
The Guest House was where the Rockefellers lived. They had a bedroom and bath, a darkroom, a kitchenette, and a room for a nurse (although, Betty, Mrs. Rockefeller was a registered nurse and took care of William Avery all his life). They used the main house for putting up guests.
Here is a photograph from 1932 of The Guest House under construction…
I decided to convert the living room into a grand bedroom, turn the darkroom into its bathroom, and convert the kitchen to the bath. I named it Weatherwatch…
More goodies from The Adirondack Store.
Here is a photograph from 1932 of the fireplace under construction...
I named the Rockefeller’s bedroom, Evensong. The wonderful blue-and-white rag carpet came from India and used to be in The House in the Woods. The round plate on the wall is of Granny when she was a child. The Bargello pillows are by Mito. (Pieces of tree trunks make great occasional tables.)
So, besides a couple of bunk rooms behind the kitchen, these were the accommodations – quite a handful for Shirley and me, but then, we weren’t expecting a lot of visitors.
Down the hill, the boathouse served many purposes.
It was the garage for the boats, and upstairs, had a kitchen, a bathroom, two sleeping alcoves, and two bunk beds suspended from the eaves on the outside deck. But it needed work.
Next on the Checklist was… May 29, 1979 – Start on new boathouse foundations.
The boathouse was supported by wooden cribbing made from railroad ties that were bedded in the sandy bottom of the shore. The huge, stone chimney was starting to lean, and was pushing the boathouse into the lake; the action of the winter ice didn’t help matters.
With Sally’s advice, I hired a local Saranac Lake firm to replace the cribbing with concrete foundations, cut out the center guideboat ramp to make room for another craft, and straightened and secured the chimney.
With new space in the boathouse, I found an aluminum tour boat at a marina in Saranac Lake. It was 30’ long by 8’ wide, had four, full-length pontoons for flotation, and a removable canopy. It was powered by a 50 hp. Mercury outboard and would be great fun for cocktail cruises and touring the lake. I named it “After You.”
So, when my cousins arrived for lunch, I said, “I named it After You.”
They said, “Tom and Alix?”
I said, “No, ‘After You’!”
That repartee was repeated thousands of times throughout the years!
It joined the fleet: my grandparent’s original, 1940, 16’ Chris-Craft Utility – the Bobs II, 19’ Diamond Lil IO, my mother’s canoe, two guideboats, and an 18’ open-bow outboard that came with the camp.
Here is Bobs II and After You in the boathouse just after the ice had begun to form.
Next on the Checklist: Buy a van
The camp came with a pickup truck that Gus used to take garbage to the dump, run errands, and meet friends at the airport. It was good for the first two tasks but lousy for the last. I went to town and bought a van.
Checklist: Get to know the neighbors.
Outside, on the upper deck of the boathouse, I installed an inverted guideboat as a bar and hired Tommy Gallaher and his band every Saturday night for an open-house party for everyone who could come by boat. If one wanted to sit upstairs, have a drink at the bar, and dance, the cover charge was $5 – the richest people on the lake would stay down in their boats.
The dances were vigorous and great fun - Sally and I pretended we were dancing to Lester Lanin at the St. Regis… but it was more fun to realize we were dancing at The Point on Upper Saranac Lake.
I got to know the neighbors - they were a friendly bunch. Here I am with Dr. and Mrs. Pike who came dancing every Saturday night.
One Sunday morning, a gal telephoned to say she had lost her diamond engagement ring at last night’s party. Amazingly, I found it stuck between the floor boards.
Sally and I will never forget the woman with the electric, glass, ball-pendant earrings – they blinked on and off!
In July, I got a stern letter – “There were so many people using the loo upstairs in the boathouse, that affluent [sic] was jetting eight feet into the air like Geneva’s Jet d’Eau, and running into the lake!”
I answered, “Thanks for your letter. Effluent is a natural byproduct of the Affluent! I’ll remedy the problem.”
Thus, another entry on the Checklist –Increase wastewater capacity.
I found a company in Burlington, Vermont that specialized in sewage treatment plants. They determined that I had to eliminate the leach field under the isthmus, install a water treatment plant underground near the pump house into which the existing sewage and drainage pipes could run, and create a new evaporation field up above across the driveway opposite The Guest House to which the treated wastewater would be pumped.
The first thing we did was to build a road from in front of the garage, down the path and around the boulders, to the boathouse. A line carrying gasoline from the “gas station” pump in front of the garage down to the nozzle on the boathouse dock was just one of the obstacles – the buried main sewer pipe, fresh water lines, and electric cables were others.
Creating the evaporation field was a problem of considerably greater magnitude - it turned out I did not own that piece of land!
I thought I owned the peninsula from shoreline to shoreline, and from point to the gate but, in fact, the Blagden property came right up to my kitchen, all along the northern shore of the peninsula facing their camp, Beaverwood. That meant that my woodshed, to the left of the entrance gate when entering, was also on their property – incredible!
Joe and I immediately sat down and negotiated the sale; I started to clear the woods for the evaporation field.
No sooner had I started my chainsaw than Mary Kinsolving, Joe Blagden’s sister, who was the recent widow of the Rev. Dr. Arthur Lee Kinsolving, retired rector of St. James' Episcopal Church in Manhattan and a member of a family that has given three bishops and many priests to the Episcopal Church, came running. “Those are my trees. Have the wood delivered to Beaverwood ASAP.”
Really! (We did not become buddies.)
After the trees and trunks were removed, the field was created by dumping 81 truckloads of earth on the granite floor to raise a three-foot deep bed into which the eight-inch perforated pipe would be buried.
Anyway, $250,000 later, the water treatment plant functioned, and the Affluent behaved. Like the parable of the talents, too bad it was all hidden underground. The evaporation field made a perfect croquet lawn (perhaps the beginning of the Otterkill Croquet Club for which my nephew, David, officiates). It certainly has the greenest grass you’ve ever seen, and, in winter, a family of deer sleeps there!
On June 20, Mito arrived with John Kay.
Mito and John at the Olympic Ski Jumps in Lake Placid
The next day, my immediate neighbors down the peninsula, Sam and Polly Bodine, also Philadelphians, came by in their cute, twelve-foot, electric boat, Lady Slipper. Lady Slippers are indigenous orchids that Granny used to pick for HOWO.
Polly, Mary, and Clarissa constituted the local “Ladies who Lunch/Bitch.” But as I had no time for gossip, I hardly ever saw them… happily.
I think Sam said that the boat once belonged to Marjorie Merriweather Post who had a very great camp, Topridge, near here.
Lady Slipper was painted in the same dark blue livery. Turned out that the fiddle player who came here with the band every Saturday night used to be the head carpenter at Topridge.
June 26th, Mito and John returned to New York, and Mom and my brother’s second son, David, arrive at HOWO and come visiting. Mom is suitably impressed and treats me with a deference I had never felt before.
My mother was a typical “mother bear” – over-nurturing, critical; sometimes, overbearing. At one point, I didn’t speak to her for fifteen years!
All my life, much of my motivation came from wanting to please my parents… without any financial support. I thought the Army would do it, then the Okinawa Grand Prix, then I.O.S., and, finally, Carter Containers. But it wasn’t until I bought The Point, without telling anyone, that Mother finally realised I was a self-sufficient individual – I paddled my own canoe. We immediately became the best buddies possible and remained so for the rest of her life.
Mother paddling her own canoe at The Point
David, a young teenager, arrived wearing a necklace – I guess he was expressing who he was too. (He’s now a successful real estate broker in Brooklyn, NY and flourishing with his lifetime partner, Kevin. They have been together for many, many years. As David says, “Every family needs a plumber!”
Mito returned on the 29th for a week. He didn’t quite know how to take The Point. I’ve got my clipboard; he’s sort of at loose ends.
On the 7th of July, I returned to Carter Containers in London and came back to The Point on the 20th to get things ready for my colleagues’ visit in August.
No matter what one's American credentials, the Brits and Europeans pose a different value system and, wanting my companies’ directors to better understand my point of view, I had invited them to The Point.
Soon the day arrived and so did they; I was embarrassed. Seeing them in the clarity of my homestead, they looked a rather rum bunch. All of a sudden, everything I'd inherited in my genes came flooding back. What had happened to my values?
I went to the safe, withdrew all the companies' share certificates and brought the meeting to order.
“Gentlemen, I will sign these and turn the corporations over to you”… a shocked stillness echoed my words, “if you will kindly pack your bags and be gone by morning.” (The story was later repeated in the cover story in Forbes Magazine.)
The rest is history. I gave them the companies, they left. That chapter was closed.
Checklist: September 1979, Make Views
The Point was deep in the woods; so deep that some of the bedrooms and The Great Hall had no views out the windows. So, Gus and I “tied a yellow ribbon” around the trees that were blocking the views of the lake.
He’d tie a ribbon and I’d go from room to room and visualize what the view would be like if we took the tree down. This project took over a month and produced a great deal of firewood which was stacked in the main woodshed and labeled “1979.”
We also made benches for natural clearings and rest-stops along the steep, flagstone paths that led down to the boathouse. A “Dukette Bench” consisted of two notched two-foot “footers, across which was laid an eight-foot log.
We used branches to make a sign at the gate.
On September 28th, I flew down to Teterboro Airport. The airport is in the New Jersey Meadowlands, 12 miles (19 km) from Midtown Manhattan, which makes it very popular for private and corporate aircraft. I picked up Audré, her friend, Tim Sullivan, Bruce, and Gil to spend the weekend. Gil brought some recipes, Bruce did the cooking, Audré laughed, Tim gawked at The Point, Sally joined us, and we danced the night away at the boathouse.
On the first of October, we all flew back to Teterboro. I stayed at 66th Street and brought the Don Wynn painting of the moon over Saranac to hang in my bedroom – I needed the solace.
Thinking it was silly to have all of Aunt Ruth’s Meissen at The Point, I called Gus to pack it up and bring it down to the city. I could use it at 66th Street.
Early the next morning, Gus called to say he was leaving and would be at the apartment at 5 PM. Carrying an 18th-century, Meissen service for 24, he never made it… Gus was a country boy; the city petrified him. He made it to Second Avenue, turned around, and went back to The Point!
I flew to Los Angeles on the 12th and stayed with John Kay. Getting wanderlust, I was smitten by Rudyard in a gay club. We exchanged telephone numbers – that’s all.
I returned to Manhattan on the 24th, fooled around with friends, and invited Audré and Gil to The Point for Thanksgiving. Audré suggested we have Robert Carrier as well, and we all flew from Teterboro on November 21. The ice was just forming.
Let me just remind you of Robert Carrier - Cook, Restaurateur, Hotelier, Television star, Consummate Host, and a great friend.
This is from the obituary from the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper:
Robert Carrier (MacMahon), chef, restaurateur and broadcaster, born November 10, 1923; died June 27, 2006
Robert Carrier was a cookery writer, restaurateur and television presenter whose programmes attracted audiences of millions in Britain. He also opened a chain of cooking utensils shop and was a leading figure in restaurant trade politics. He made making food seem a joyful art.
Born in New York, Carrier was influential in his adopted Britain for more than 30 years, spreading the message that good cooking was simple but took time (he despised short cuts such as grills and microwaves). His father was a distant and wealthy property lawyer of Irish descent; his mother, whom he adored, was the German-American daughter of a millionaire. He inherited his father's calculation and his mother's gregariousness and style.
Carrier's parents went broke in the depression and, with steely determination, maintained their lifestyle, though now without servants, as best they could. This entailed preparing their own elaborate meals. Young Robert laid the table. Wanting to become an actor, he filled in time by taking art courses, and eventually found himself in the Broadway revue New Faces, later filmed with Eartha Kitt.
When the US entered the second world war, Carrier decided that if he was going to be killed, it might as well be in style, and volunteered for the Office of Strategic Services, wartime forerunner of the CIA. In fact, his war was mostly desk-bound: he helped mastermind European operations from Paris. After the war, he worked there for French overseas radio and a Gaullist newspaper.
Carrier had always had a passion for food - and often an expanding waistline to prove it, despite visits to health farms. When a British friend invited him to London for the 1953 coronation, Carrier fell in love with the place, entertained guests to an elaborate meal, and was rewarded when one of them, Eileen Dickson, offered him a job as food editor and writer for Harper's Bazaar. He also wrote for Vogue and had a column in the Sunday Times magazine.
A natural entrepreneur, Carrier later aired his flair for public relations by building up a PR company that pushed a vegetarian diet for dogs, and various other food. He devised boxes of separate recipe cards, instead of ordinary cookery books, had the first cookery department in Macy’s stores, and published more than 20 titles, including Great Dishes of the World (1967), which was to sell more than 10m copies, and The Robert Carrier Cookery Book (1970).
He wanted a restaurant of his own and, in 1959, opened one in Camden Passage, in the heart of Islington, north London. The Greek couple who were to run it for him backed out, so Carrier took over himself. It became a meeting place for British and American celebrities and was called simply Carrier's.
In 1972, he launched a more ambitious plan by buying Hintlesham Hall, a decrepit grade-II listed building in Suffolk, converting it into a home and three restaurants, and taking over the Hintlesham festival held there. He later made what he considered a mistake by adding a cookery school, which attracted ladies who lunch, and took up too much of his time. He was for a while a very visible chairman of the Restaurateurs' Association of Great Britain, fighting for liberalisation of the licensing laws.
Though he loved acting the host, as he loved all forms of acting, and though his adventurousness with saffron, butter, and Calvados was undimmed, Carrier had to sell Hintlesham Hall in 1982. He also bowed out of Carrier's in Camden Passage in 1984, retreating to Marrakesh and his ornately restored mansion there. But he continued to produce books, including A Taste of Morocco (1987) and Feasts of Provence (1993), and to present television programmes on food. These had started with Carrier's Kitchen in the 1970s and were followed over the next 20 years by Food, Wine and Friends, The Gourmet Vegetarian, and Carrier's Caribbean.
By 1994, Carrier had returned to London, realising that most of his Christmas cards were from Britain, and started proclaiming the virtues of economical and vegetarian eating on breakfast television. He died, however, in the south of France, where he had been living.
Back to The Point, Thanksgiving 1979:
As Bob looked around, he kept muttering "P.G.'s, P.G.'s."
"This place is so beautiful, you really ought to share it.
“It would make a fabulous hotel; why not take P.G.s - Paying Guests?
“Even better, Lake Placid is only minutes away and with the Winter Olympics just a few months away, there must be hundreds of people looking for accommodations."
The last thing I thought I wanted to do was run an hotel.
"You're crazy, Bob, I've just retired!"
He insisted that I needn't change a thing. "Just run your usual, terrific houseparty, you'll have a ball."
And, in his own words, reprinted from the first issue of Edward Carter's Letters from Abroad…
As an old friend of Edward Carter, I happily answer the obvious question — Who is Edward Carter?
Known as ‘Ted,’ American and forty-ish, he’s an international socialite and businessman who paused for a moment in his busy career and ‘retired’ to The Point, his wilderness estate on Upper Saranac Lake, New York in the spring of ’79.
Later that year, he invited me to a houseparty he had put together for Thanksgiving. That evening at dinner we were discussing the coming Winter Olympics to be held in a few months’ time at nearby Lake Placid and I lightheartedly said,
“Why don’t you take paying guests? There will never be enough hotel rooms in the area and it might be great fun.”
We all returned to Manhattan on the 25th; Bob and I dined on the 27th and talked about The Point.
We dined again, this time with Bruce Bolton and Gil, on the 28th – more talk about The Point.
December 1 – Bob and I met at The Box Tree, a very fine restaurant in Manhattan. I finally agreed to the idea of taking P.G.’s, and we celebrated with dinner with Audré who had started the whole thing by suggesting that Bob come up for Thanksgiving.
On the 5th, Bob and I went shopping in Manhattan’s commercial restaurant supply houses, and I got all the extra bits and pieces he thought I might need to augment my already pretty-complete kitchen.
I partied in Manhattan for a week, had dinner with Audré, and met Alan Reyburn. Alan was the Hotel Manager of the QE2 and wouldn’t hire anyone with a waistline larger than 28 inches – fun!
I invited Audré, Gil, Donna Kendall and her beau (friends from 68th Street where Donna had a chic dress shop), John Brewer, and his partner, Ken, up to The Point for Christmas. I drove up on the 15th through heavy snow; it was minus 8 the next morning. The group arrived via Courtesy Air on the 21st and we had a marvelous Christmas. The best gift came from Donna…
Donna’s father, Donald Kendall, was the CEO of PepsiCo. PepsiCo bartered Pepsi Cola syrup into Romania in return for cases of Romanian Monsieur Henri red wine, making its net cost to PepsiCo almost nothing. We went to the Grand Union supermarket on the road to Lake Placid and found it on the shelf at $1.89 a bottle! The manager of the store said no one would buy it because it was so cheap. I bought all six bottles and, that evening, tasted them. We thought they were fine, called the Grand Union in the morning and said, “Please order thirty cases for me and never run out.” It became my house wine.
The group flew back to New York on Boxing Day; I drove down on Saturday, the 29th, and dined with Audré at one of our favorite restaurants, The Isle of Capri.
On Sunday, Mito and I had cocktails at John Brewers at 68th Street and then on to Audre’s and out to dinner.
I woke the next morning, New Year’s Eve, and the first thing I see is the “Moon over Saranac.” Madly homesick, without thinking, I grabbed my Dopp Kit, and five hours and twenty minutes later (a record!), pulled into The Point!
Parker Packer, the only other person at loose ends that night, called and came for dinner. What a surprise; everyone else thought I was in Manhattan, and had their own plans; otherwise I would have called Sally.
On January 2, I called the Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce and their team came to lunch on the 4th. We discussed my plans to put up some people during the Olympics.
This was to be the second time that the Winter Olympics were held in Lake Placid. The first was in 1932 when Sonya Henie was the figure skating champion. This year, the big event would be the hockey game between the United States and the Soviet Union. The excitement was tangible.
They looked around; “How much will you charge?”
I asked, “How much is a room at the Hilton in Lake Placid?”
“And they are full, right?” I queried.
“Everything is full; there isn’t a room available between Montreal and Albany!” was the answer.
I said, “I think that $250 per room per night, including food, booze, and transportation to and from the games would be about right.”
They agreed and said they’d be happy to compile a list of people looking for accommodations. They also said that Betsy Boyd was the head of the local ‘I Love NY’ campaign in their office, and they were sure she’d want to be involved.
Monday, January 7: Rudyard called. Rudyard, the cute kid from Los Angeles! He wanted to come visit! I arranged for a ticket for the next week.
Checklist: Split Mohawk’s bathroom into two so The Library would have a bathroom too.
Mohawk’s bathroom had a basin, a large tub, a very large glass-walled shower stall with the original “rain” head, and a toilet. This bathroom served both Mohawk and The Library. Happily, there was enough room to install a thick, soundproof wall across the foot of the tub to the opposite wall, and put a basin and toilet across from the shower to make a separate bathroom for The Library.
Gus picked up what was needed in town, and we completed it in three days.
Friday, January 18: Rudyard arrived!
Tuesday, January 22: Rudyard returned to Los Angeles. It had been a fun weekend.
1980 Winter Olympics
The 1980 Winter Olympics, officially known as the
XIII Olympic Winter Games,
was a multi-sport event which was celebrated from February 13, through February 24, 1980, in Lake Placid, New York.
Opening Ceremony: February 14
Closing Ceremony: February 23
Officially opened by: Vice President Walter Mondale
On January 30th, I went to the Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce to pick up the list and I started to telephone Paris, Rome, London, San Francisco – anyone who had a chic address.
"I got your name from the Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce, if you're still looking for a place to stay, I could put you up in my home. I have a man who could take you the 45 minutes to the Games each morning and bring you back each evening. Of course, you'll have to take 'pot luck' with me for dinner."
I filled the house.
Guests included – in order of arrival:
Princess Vera, a mystery, “East-bloc” woman who arrived with 27 pieces of Louis Vuitton, hard-sided luggage, and asked, “Where is the hot-tub?” (!) I put her in Morningside.
Mr. Eddie Carroll and his son, Brendan, – a prominent, house builder from the Pocono Mountains in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I put them in Weatherwatch.
A dentist and his wife from Hawaii after whom a major hospital in San Francisco was named. I put them in Iroquois.
Prince Egon von Furstenberg; son, Alexandre; daughter, Tatiana; and nurse. I put Egon and the two kids in Algonquin. The nurse slept behind the kitchen.
And several more who filled the house for two weeks. They loved it...and so did I.
Our first dinner party went off without a hitch. Shirley manned the kitchen, I waited on table. Alexandre and Tatiana ate in the kitchen with their nurse but Eddie’s early teenage son ate with us grown-ups and was perfectly behaved.
In between courses, when everyone was busy chatting, I’d carry something out to the kitchen, slip out the back door, and into each room, in turn, to turn down the beds, and change the towels. It worked perfectly despite the snow and that The Guest House was more than a hundred yards away.
All the rooms had a pre-laid fire – all you needed was one match, but, as it was well below freezing outside, the flue was closed. You’d have to open it before lighting the fire, otherwise, the room would fill with smoke. The beds had electric blankets. All was carefully explained to each guest upon arrival.
After our first dinner, Princess Vera, saying she was exhausted from her travels, retired to Morningside before the rest of us had even started on our Cognacs. Suddenly, she came running into The Great Hall screeching that her room was freezing, full of smoke, and that there were worms in her bed!
I rushed to open the flue and… shut the windows! I showed her the “worms” were just wires, and she settled down under her electric blanket. I kissed her good night.
We all learned much from young Prince Egon:
(From the dining room table and Wikipedia:
Prince Egon von Fürstenberg (Eduard Egon Peter Paul Giovanni Prinz zu Fürstenberg, Prinz Egon zu Fürstenberg, 29 June 1946 – 11 June 2004) was a socialite, banker, fashion and interior designer, and member of the German, aristocratic family Fürstenberg.
Egon von Fürstenberg was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, was baptized by Pope John XXIII, and was thereafter brought up in great privilege in Venice, Italy. He earned a degree in economics at the University of Geneva, followed by an 18-month term in the Peace Corps in Burundi working as a teacher, and then two years as an investment banker in New York.
While studying at university, he met fellow student Diane Simone Michelle Halfin, a Belgian-born, Jewish woman of Romanian-Greek descent and daughter of a Holocaust survivor (on her mother's side). They married on 16 July 1969 at Montfort-l'Amaury, Yvelines, France. The new Princess Diane von Fürstenberg was pregnant, and Egon's father, who also objected to his marrying a Jew, boycotted the ceremony.
His wife opened her fashion house in New York at Egon's urging, creating an eventually iconic, wrap dress, and a career as a designer that pre-dated and arguably eclipsed Egon's.
Fürstenberg began his career as a buyer for Macy's, taking night classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and Parson's School of Design.
The von Fürstenberg's had two children: Alexandre Egon (b. 25 January 1970) and Tatiana Desirée (b. 16 February 1971). They were divorced in 1972.
Furstenberg began independent work as a fashion designer in 1977, designing clothes for plus-size women, and later expanding to full fashion and product licensing, with ready-to-wear, fragrance, and made to measure lines based in Rome. Next von Furstenberg designed ready-made clothing for the masses and an off-the-peg (ready-to-wear) line of fashion.
Fürstenberg wrote two top selling books: The Power Look (1978), a guide to fashion and good taste, and The Power Look at Home: Decorating for Men (1980), a book on home furnishings. He opened an interior design firm in 1981. In 1991, he exhibited at Alta Moda days in Rome.
Egon von Fürstenberg died at Spallanzani Hospital in Rome on 11 June 2004. New York Post, reported Fürstenberg's widow stating that he died of liver cancer caused by a hepatitis C infection that he acquired in the 1970s.)
Eddie Carroll was a gregarious guest and lots of fun. He had towed a trailer with two snowmobiles all the way from the Poconos, and he showed us how to ride them over the snow banks and across the frozen lake.
I also plowed a skating rink in front of the boathouse and flooded it to mirror-like perfection.
The doctor from Hawaii was a charmer and knew all about the Olympic Games. We all talked about travel – that’s what we had in common – and the doctor revealed that he loved Thai food. (Put that on the Checklist.)
Eventually, we all got to bed and, in the morning, met around the huge table in the servants’ dining room beyond the kitchen.
Waiting outside, Gus had the heater going, and we all piled in – thank goodness, I had thought to buy a van.
The Opening Ceremony was televised worldwide, and I saw something that, it seems, no one else did.
Immediately after the balloons were released to soar over the mountains, the white doves of peace were let fly. One, just one, fluttered, faltered and… fell at the foot of the Soviet standard bearer.
Having described this, hundreds of times over the years, I believe I was the only person to notice, and, for me, this portended the defeat of the Soviets and the amazing victory of the American hockey team!
But for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, I stayed home. Governor Cuomo said the view would be better on TV, and he was right. Besides, Shirley and I were looking after twelve guests, and the washing, cleaning, and cooking kept us busy; but happy.
After the first night, I called Anunt, a Thai friend in Manhattan. “Can you go shopping, get the bus, come up here, and put on a Thai banquet for the evening of the 23rd?”
Sure, he said, and on the night, when everyone came back from the Closing Ceremony, we presented a Thai feast that made the doctor cry!
The next day, they all left. It had been a great success, and so easy. I’d often had more houseguests at The House in the Woods, and WaAwA held many more than that. Adirondack houseparties are second-nature to all of us Carter/Leonards – running The Point was going to be a snap!
March in the Adirondacks is lonely.
The Point of The Point
Very lonely; the ice is three-feet thick, it gets down to thirty below, and the furnace burns a thousand gallons of oil a week. My friends had taken their vacations last summer and the house was empty. I decided that this was the moment to throw my cap in the ring and open my doors to PGs full time. But how to market it?
I called Betsy Boyd of ‘I Love NY.’ She gushed over the phone. The Governor thinks you’re the best! The Olympics was great PR but you’ve made the Adirondacks a place to stay! I’ve got some great ideas, let’s lunch.
We lunched and I decided to accept her offer to try and find a reasonably-priced PR person. “Take your time, Betsy, I’m going to take off a few weeks.”
Sally pipped everyone to the post, and posted this:
April is mud season, and the ice doesn’t go out until the third week of the month. I decide to visit New York and Mother in Naples. I tell Gus to keep watch, and I give Shirley a few weeks off.
In Manhattan, I walk Audré to the Frick in the rain… slowly. Audré always walks slowly – it’s as though she is showing off she’s got an escort.
Mom and I had fun in Naples, then I went on to Ft. Lauderdale and dined with Gil. I wrote an article about The Point for a Florida-based gay magazine – probably pointless.
The beginning of May, Audré, Gil, Bruce, and Tim come up for a few days. Tim’s amazed how many of my Checklist entries are ticked off. I can really relax for the first time.
Joe and Clarissa come for dinner; Audré thought they were great!
Clarissa & Joe Blagden, and Audré
Audré made an album of the visit…
Audre writes, “Not going in album. Too young looking.
Maybe son? Who borrowed Dad’s clothes.
Gil, Audré, Ted
Onboard “After You”
Mother calls to say she and Helen, my brother’s wife, are going to The White Grass Ranch in Wyoming next week. Mom and Gardner, my long-deceased uncle, were last there in the 20s!
Mother and Helen
I had just about finished my initial Checklists and The Point looked this:
I was ready for “the carnival” to begin and this appeared in the local press…
Gus was seriously set in his ways of what he would and wouldn’t do, so I hired a boat boy, Robert, to keep the barge stocked with Bloody Mary mix, the boathouse free of flotsam, and the various crafts polished and fueled.
One day, pertaining to nothing, he tells me a relative is Pegeen Fitzgerald, and he could arrange to have her call me.
I didn't have a clue who she was or what he was talking about, and later that week when the phone rang at 11:30 pm saying I was going to be on WOR (radio) in three minutes, I thought they were kidding.
I walked around the kitchen table talking to Pegeen and her husband, Ed, – at that time, the most venerable radio personalities in the world - for more than an hour and a half. I couldn't imagine anyone would be listening, so when the phone rang after we'd hung up, I was sure it was a wrong number. It wasn’t - someone wanted to make a reservation!
Just when I was wondering what to do to market The Point, my summer was filled with dozens of insomniac geriatrics from New York and New Jersey, and dozens more who thrilled to the idea of being a paying house guest in one of the last great, private, Adirondack Camps.
I went around the lake, gave the following to everyone I could find, and waited for my guests to arrive:
To make life easy (and my mother’s side of the family proud), I decided to sport the Sutherland kilt. I never had to think about what I was going to wear every day, and it seemed only natural in these Adirondack highlands. The black-tie version that I wore on Saturday nights was knock-out!
One lady, of a certain age, brought a large, black dog, and stayed for two months. We’d usually have a picnic lunch at the lean-to on the point. Shirley and I prepare the food, Robert sets up the area and starts the fire, and Gus grills the burgers served with 21 Club Sauce.
While I had a two-night minimum, three on holiday weekends, most people only came for two or three days so my repertoire didn’t have to be large and I could concentrate on making everything taste as good as possible, unless… someone chose to stay two months!
As the lady didn’t want much attention, every night after dinner, I would drive the pickup into Lake Placid to have a drink with Sally and tease her daughter, Liz. One evening, Sally said, “Your semi-permanent house guest asked me to ask you if you could vary the lunch menu a bit. She’s getting tired of hamburgers.”
So, after that, we lunched every day at a different spot – sometimes outside Weatherwatch on the hand-chiseled, granite terrace; or on the terrace of the Main Lodge; or the deck of the boathouse; or at the “Topless Teepee” / ”Wigless Wigwam” on the isthmus between the boathouse and the (new) beach that was created when we cleaned out the old leach field.
The Topless Teepee
(the $250,000 water treatment plant is under the deck on the right)
Sometimes, we’d take “After You” to an island where, early in the morning, I had put some chairs “to reserve it.” I also varied the menu with salads and quiches, cold poached salmon, or grilled, baby lamb chops.
Sanka sat next to the after-dinner drinks wagon in The Great Hall, and had the day’s schedule on his blackboard…
Of course, I love entertaining. But it was rather amazing that Shirley, Gus, and I pulled it all off so easily. I cooked from The Boston Cooking School Cookbook, the Joy of Cooking, and The New, New York Times Cookbook; and Bon Appétit magazine was a good source of recipes.
There were lots of Pot Roasts – my mother’s standby. The Grand Union in Lake Placid didn’t have much variety, but I was lucky that we had a country butcher, Tom Doty, who had the best beef, pork, and chicken that one could hope for.
Sally would call, “What are you serving tonight?”
I’d answer, “Starting with The New, New York Times page 80 - Shrimp Seviche, then Mother’s Pot Roast, then baked apples.”
I had a loose-leaf notebook (that I still use) and saved all the recipes that worked. Remember, guests didn't stay long, so I didn't need a big repertoire. Even still, it’s amazing that we survived on my cooking but, remember, the whole point of The Point was that you were coming to be my guest. I never talked about the food, and certainly didn’t hype it in my correspondence.
Houseguests don’t expect menus, nor hypo-allergenic pillows, nor hot-tubs, or discos. They should just be grateful for being allowed to come – that covered a lot of potential problems.
I interviewed everyone on the phone. If I sensed they weren’t getting the point, I told them we were full.
I certainly wasn’t putting myself out for money; I just wanted to fill the house with happy people and have fun.
Sometimes people would tell me they’d just come into a lot of money but didn’t have a clue how to run a house or talk or eat – they admitted they’d come to learn.
Here’s how it worked in the evening:
We’d meet at the boathouse around 7 PM. I’d pick a route for “After You,” the barge, that would bring us out from behind Buck Island just as the sun was setting.
Me. The ladies are sisters from Russia
(one donates $25 million dollars a year to New York's Museum of Modern Art).
On the rising of a full moon, I’d prep the passengers all about "my balloonist friend in Saranac Lake who had painted his balloon to look like the moon."
Rounding the island and seeing the “balloon,” some may have been fooled for a minute.
That was the point, keep them guessing and keep them laughing.
Everyone would have at least two drinks – it was easy. The “old-timers,” who had already been there for a night, would tell the “newcomers,” who had arrived that day, how everything worked. It was like being at camp.
Sometimes, I’d tell everyone to put on whatever they found on their bed. And down we would steam into Fish Creek Ponds, past campers in Winnebagos, or makeshift tents… dressed to the nines in Moroccan kaftans I had bought in Marrakech! Didn’t everyone love it! Damn well better!
Then back to the boathouse and up the hill to dinner at 8:30.
Dinners were the most fun. I cooked, Shirley took care of the kitchen, I served, and I sat with my guests… heading the round table. The one thing everyone had in common was that they were experienced (usually rather jaded) world travelers. All I had to do was ask the lady on my right where she'd been recently and the travel symposium began. We all learned what was happening where: the new places that were up and coming, and the old that had slipped from favor. This was the inner circle of world travel.
Sometimes I’d recount old IOS war stories or all the chat I had learned from Johnny Galliher and Kitty Miller. It’s all here in this book – hundreds of pages to talk about.
As I learned during the Olympics, at some strategic moment during dinner, when I sensed the conversation could flow without me, I got up, went to the kitchen, went out the back door, and ran to each of the eight bedrooms.
Not only did I turn down the beds and change the towels, I also emptied the waste baskets and lit the fires in the fireplaces, and…
I was back at the dining room table before anyone noticed.
The bar was always open, and each place at the table had a bottle of Monsieur Henri! There was another bottle in each room… replenished every day.
After dinner, we gathered in front of the fires in The Great Hall. More booze, more stories – I often didn’t quit until 2 AM!
Then breakfast in the kitchen starting at 8:30 to 10:30 and… everyone would arrive at 10:35!
In two days, we were all great friends. So how could I then ask them for money? How embarrassing! I was brought up to never talk about money.
I assumed everyone was financially savvy, but people didn’t know what to do about tipping.
In fact, it turned out that less than 5% had ever slept in someone else’s home before!
I decided I had to avoid the whole subject and made everyone pay in full BEFORE they came. The cost was determined by the room they chose to have – the boathouse was the most costly, Trapper’s, the least.
I refused to talk about deposits or cancellations – send someone in your place.
From then on, everyone paid at least 30 days in advance, or they couldn’t have a room.
And when their stay at the house was over, they just walked away… astonished! Nothing to pay! No extras, no hidden charges, no mini-bar bill, no midnight ironing job – nothing!
They had long forgotten what they had paid anyway; for them, it was all free! No wonder everyone loved staying at The Point!
See Reservations at The Point to see the prices, service charges, taxes, etc., etc. that apply today.
While things were very promising, the mortgage to Steve Briggs was a real burden – I asked Mother if she could help. In October, she sent Chris to have a look. It was the first time we’d met since the Provo debacle. He was awestruck by the place and my ambitions and seemed totally out of his depth. More importantly, he called Mother and gave her the go-ahead.
I called Bill Sweeney, my lawyer in Saranac Lake, and he incorporated “Wonundra, Inc.,” doing business as “The Point,” as a “Small Business Corporation” as defined in IRC Sec. 1244 © (1), commonly known as a Sub-Chapter S Corporation that enables the shareholders to treat operational losses and the loss on the sale or exchange of their shares as an “ordinary loss” on their personal income tax returns. While I had the majority of the shares, my mother had a significant percentage, and my brother got a token amount.
The Bottom Line: Mom paid the monthly mortgage payment directly from her bank to Steve Briggs!
Then Joe Scott called. “I’m a PR Consultant. Betsy Boyd says you’re looking for some help.”
He came over to the house. After hearing his credentials and checking with Betsy, I said, “I’ll give you a three-year contract and 5% of gross bookings. The first year, you won’t earn much but if you work your ass off, you should start coining it in the second year, and if you’ve done the right job, you can then cool it and make more than ever.”
Of course, he had wanted a retainer and $7000 a month, but he took my deal and it worked out very well for him. He pounded the sidewalks of New York and beat the bushes across the country. We had regular, good press and, in time, made the cover of most of the world’s best travel magazines.
Life was grand, but I could use another hand, and, deep down, I was lonely.
Mito came up a few times, but while we had shared so much together for almost ten years, and enjoyed deep mutual respect, our relationship had changed, or I had changed. I wanted The Point to be a new beginning for me, and Mito was not part of the picture.
Mito on “After You”
I wrote the following in the mid-seventies and, according to the Facebook posts we exchanged yesterday (47 years since we met), the sentiments are still about the same. Nice!
My name is Mito, I’m a little boy,
But careful how you treat me, I am not a toy.
I may be pretty, but stupid I’m not,
My life’s been strange and wonderful, I’ve moved around a lot.
And now in America, I decided to stay
But God damn Ted Carter, he up and goes away.
I hate him when I’m with him, together we fight.
He’s always doing something – usually just to spite.
But then I know he loves me, regardless of his ways;
He’s hurt me awfully badly, it kills me when he strays.
But he needs lots of attention, and sometimes that’s a bore,
I guess that’s the reason he begins to roar.
But he’s a lucky Leo, that I know him so well;
Any other person would tell him to go to hell.
I’ve done that too, for a couple of weeks,
He whores around like crazy, but it’s me that he seeks.
So, what a nutty life it is, we have our ups and downs,
And when it’s up, it’s wonderful, we’re like a pair of clowns.
I love and hate the bastard, and when we fly we’re soaring;
I’ll tell you one thing, Mister, it sure as hell ain’t boring!
Life is grand, but I really could use another hand, and I am lonely. I don’t like living alone, and not having anyone off of whom I can bounce ideas, disappointments, and successes is a hollow existence.
There is no Internet, no email, no Google, and no Facebook; the only bar in Saranac Lake was certainly not gay. So, how do I solve “lonely?”
Can’t run to Manhattan to meet people - I’ve got three couples from Passaic arriving on Friday’s flight. What to do?
I ran an ad in the Advocate.
Wikipedia 2017 - The Advocate is an American LGBT-interest magazine, printed bi-monthly and available by subscription. The Advocate has an editorial focus on news, politics, opinion, and arts and entertainment of interest to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) people. The magazine, established in 1967, is the oldest and largest LGBT publication in the United States.
(That’s a fib – I was 40)
Guess what? I got 137 replies! Remember, no Internet… no email. The letters flew back and forth.
“Don’t you have a photo? I’d really appreciate a photo!”
“You’ll have to take the train to Albany, I can meet you there.” (I made five, 6-hour, round-trip, wild-goose-chases to meet guys who never got off the train!)
“Well, you can take the bus to Westport on Lake Champlain. I can meet you there.” (Seven, 4-hour, round-trip, wild-goose-chases to meet guys who never got off the bus!)
Finally, one after another, fourteen visit from Manhattan.
“Yutaka” arrives in Lake Placid by bus - I pick him up with Audré who was visiting again with Tim Sullivan. She takes one look and calls him, “Blue-tooth.” Well, he did have something wrong with a tooth. He stayed one night… alone in The Guest House.
Another said he was “Egyptian;” he didn’t know that Lena Horne (who called her color “Egyptian No. 9”) was a buddy of mine. He lasted two hours – I sent him to the Adirondack Trailways bus station in Lake Placid by taxi.
There was a “Billy,” a “Tony,” a “Mark,” a “Peter,” a “Sen,” a “Ron,” an “Earl.”
I drove to Albany to meet “Aki”, and drove him back the next morning to pick up “Kevin.”
None lasted more than three nights.
December 11, I get this… on opening, a photo flutters to the floor. His image in the photo is very small, but, God, he is cute! I begin to read…
I don’t remember what I wrote but we all can imagine.
It wasn’t called it then, but “snail mail” is a very good description – time never went so slowly!
Finally. His letter arrives…
Then he calls – such excitement! We have a wonderful talk. He says he can get everything settled at home and at school in two weeks… I’ll make the flight arrangements.
That evening, when I get back to my room after dinner, I find this from Dotty…
He calls the next morning but I am out “walking the fences” with Gus.
I call him back, but he can’t talk! Confusion reigns.
He calls again, I give him the best time to reach me and he gives me a better telephone number; we sort everything out, and I book him to depart Ft. Worth on Friday, December 19 and arrive at the Adirondack Airport at 10:15 PM that night, and send him…
Dec 19, 1980 – JWM arrives!
The nineteenth finally arrives. Betsy Boyd invites me to dinner; Sally is there. Not sure, but she may have been a bit jealous. They giggled over my anticipation giggles and kissed me hard as I drive off to the airport.
The plane pulls up to the teeny terminal; I can see a cowboy hat! A cowboy hat; can you believe it?!
As Jim walked toward me, he came out of the shadow of the wing, and my knees went weak… he was gorgeous!
After twenty minutes of awkwardness in the van, we arrive at The Point and sit in The Great Hall. I make a scotch-on-the-rocks and arrange a plate of celery and blue cheese – two things he’d never tasted before in his life!
It was a night of firsts… no one had ever sucked my toes before!
This was a new beginning!
There wasn’t enough snow for sledding but we didn’t care.
We moved into Weatherwatch in The Guest House.
Dotty was shocked we were sharing a room; she also was shocked by his youth. She was an “OK” maid as maids go, and as maids go, she went!
We busied ourselves getting ready for Christmas. Bruce Bolton was coming up from Manhattan and would be doing most of the cooking over the holidays. Bruce had been up many times over the summer to help me with the cooking and run impromptu cooking classes. Everyone seemed to love him, and he loved the attention. Sometimes, after dinner, having enjoyed more than his share of wine, he would say, ponderously but with a twinkle, “Go on, ask me anything.”
Jim and I went into Saranac Lake; I introduced him to Charlie Keough who took care of our boats, Tom Doty, the butcher, and the folks who ran the liquor store next to Ames Department Store. We went on into Lake Placid; I introduced him to the bookstore lady who used to walk down Main Street holding onto Poppy’s thumb… when she was five! We shopped in the Grand Union and stopped off at the Adirondack Store to meet Sally. Sally was sweet and they hit it off immediately.
Home again, Jim tied red ribbons into bow ties for each of the trophy heads throughout the place; there were almost 200!
The next day, we put a wreath on the gate…
and I got my chainsaw, and we went hunting on the property for a suitable tree...
Cutting the Christmas Tree, kilt and all!
“Jim” morphed into “James” – he thought it was more appropriate for The Point and his new life.
I would often remember his letter – “Maybe I can put it (The Point) on a bigger scale – A MUCH BIGGER SCALE.”
Bruce arrived by bus on Christmas Day, in his kilt, carrying four, sucking pigs… maybe he meant suckling; it was 25 degrees below zero!
All I remember was that there wasn’t enough pig to go around, but he and James made a terrific team and came up with one masterpiece meal after another.
January 1981: Not wasting any time, James and I talked about how we, as a pair, should operate The Point. His solution was simple - we tossed a coin to see who would be responsible for what. I got bed-making, he got the kitchen.
While his only culinary experience was working at Church’s Chicken in Texas, he was supremely confident and very brave. I watched him teach himself, with Bruce’s and my help, and Jacques Pepin’s latest book, to be a good cook.
In January, I gave a dinner party in Mohawk to introduce James. I was always moving the furniture around but this was the first time that I had converted what had been the master bedroom of the main lodge and my quarters, to a dining room. I invited some of the significant neighbors including the Simmonds (“Simmonds, the name; mattresses the game!” – they lived at the head of the lake.) and the Trudeaus. (Mr. Trudeau’s father, Dr. Trudeau, had established Saranac Lake as the famous TB Sanatorium town – Poppy, my grandfather worked with him one winter. He was also the father of Gary, the cartoonist. In her eyes, his wife was Lake Placid Society’s ‘Cat’s Meow!’). During dinner, I heard myself saying, “someday James will run this place.” My guests glanced at each other – they’d accepted readily enough that we were a pair, but this prognostication was a bit much.
But it did indeed come to pass. After a while, we decided I should concentrate on our guests, and James became the General Manager and Head Chef.
The telephone operator of the Lake Placid Hilton rang. She asked if anyone could speak French… “We have a guest who wants to make a reservation.”
I took the call. André (I didn’t get the last name) wanted to know if we had any space available and could he and his wife go cross-country skiing. Two Oui's and an hour later, their taxi crunched in our snow-packed drive.
As this was our first winter season, James and I had no other guests. We put the what's-their-names in Morningside in the main lodge and readied a simple lunch—hamburgers grilled over a grate I put over the fire in Algonquin, the library, green salad, runny brie, and a lot of Romanian wine…
Just to remind you:
The father of a good friend was the CEO of PepsiCo. To get an inroad to the East Bloc market, he bartered Pepsi syrup for Romanian wine (to market in the United States under PepsiCo’s Monsieur Henri label). While the wine could have been retailed at $19.00, he wanted to push the brand, and priced it at $1.99! We put a bottle in every room and one in front of every guest at lunch and dinner.
Then “Andrew Harper” (not his real name; of The Hideaway Report fame who has awarded The Point “Hideaway of the Year” four times running—a record still unbeaten) called to say that someone had complained that we were serving $1.99 wine (unlike most guests who marveled at the quality, reveled in the secret, and rejoiced in the bargain). From then on, we ‘decanted’ it into individual carafes.
A couple of years later, we were informed that we were to be honored with a Romanian National Medal for purchasing more of their wine than anyone else in the country.
Anyway, that’s why the Library lunch wine was Romanian.
Only planning to stay two days, André and Jocelyn something-or-other stayed a week. We “cross-countried” every day, dined in a different room every meal, and talked mainly about food and travel (naturally avoiding religion, politics, and their occupation).
One day, making their beds, I discovered a glass full of prunes soaking in Armagnac. Hmmm… not something most of our guests would do.
Who were they? I hadn’t a CLUE – Was it Colonel Mustard in the Library with Hamburgers!
The day they were leaving, we reprised our Library lunch. Saying that I’d love to put them on our Christmas card and newsletter list, I asked for their full names and address.
Grinning at me out of the corner of his mouth, André said, “Haven’t you figured that out yet? You already have it, right there in the bookcase behind me.”
Looking over his shoulder, I spied the Guide Michelin for France and winced. As the last few days raced in my memory, a cold shudder accompanied my blush. We always treat our guests in a rather cavalier manner—more like long-lost cousins than “P.G.’s” (Paying Guests)—but for the past few days, as the rest of the house was empty, we’d been more casual than usual. They’d joined James in the kitchen to watch him cook, then later joined me to help with the dishes. Our menus had been simpler than usual, our presentation less stylized.
Now, dreading what I would find in the little red book—the bible of world travelers and gourmands the world over, I reluctantly pulled it from the shelf.
“Why don’t you try Auch?” André prompted.
The penny dropped. Who else would soak prunes in Armagnac? I looked up with deep respect and humility.
André Daguin is the world’s authority on Armagnac and owns the two-star Hotel de France in Auch. (No matter how many you’ve seen on brochures or menus, the highest number the Michelin awards is three rosettes (stars), and there are less than 130 restaurants in the world with that distinction. I think there might be as many as twice that with two. At the time of this story, none are ranked in the United States.)
James and I waved the Daguins down the drive, looked at each other, shrugged and… laughed. Tant pis, can’t win them all.
About 11 o’clock that evening, the phone rang.
“This is James Vilas (then, I believe, the food or travel editor of Town & Country, whom we had never met). I am calling to thank you on behalf of all the hoteliers and restaurateurs in America. I have just had dinner with André Daguin who is here in America to conduct a series of seminars on Armagnac and the food of Gascony.”
I started to sputter apologies.
He went on, “Ted, I’m calling to tell you and James that the Daguins had the best time they’ve ever had in this country, that your style and hospitality were delightfully unique, and that the food was perfect. I repeat, perfect.”
I could have quipped “there’s no accounting some people’s taste” or “how much Armagnac did you have after dinner?” but I simply said thanks and goodnight.
Wikipedia: André Daguin has been successful in the kitchen for forty years. Herald of a regional cuisine revisited, he is the "inventor" and the promoter of the duck which he puts on his menu since 1959. He also designs audacious dishes such as a fresh foie gras with langoustines, or a white bean ice cream. He is the author or co-author of several books on cooking, including Le nouveau cuisiner gascon (Stock, 1981) and 1 duck 2 Daguin (Editions Sud Ouest, 2010) written with his son Arnaud. He has three children. His daughter, Ariane, is also a restaurateur and markets, in the United States, foie gras, and similar products through her company D’Artagnan.
Seems to me that if you try hard enough, you can win them all.
James and I started to work on newsletter and brochure ideas. With James and Bruce on hand, we felt we could mention food. We found a friendly printing company in Lake Placid and here is the first effort…
This was followed shortly thereafter by this…
A few weeks later, Gus asks me if I would guarantee a loan for him to build a house nearby. He had already built the foundation and needed the money to finish the job. I agreed and immediately James and I started creating “The Pub” out of the garage in which Gus kept the pickup.
We built a bar, refurbished the heating system, and put in the dart board and pool table from HOWO’s “Black Fly Camp.” Now we had the winter equivalent of the barge.
At the same time, we re-did The Guide’s Room at the back of the building by paneling the walls with Adirondack “Crazy Planking.” James erected some White Birch branches at the head of the bed (that are still there). We also built a new bathroom and cleaned up the screened-in porch. My mother’s favorite, it is away from foot traffic, the driveway, and the road to the boathouse, and has its own view down the lake.
When Gus and his wife moved to their new house, a few months later, we attacked the upstairs. Taking apart the walls, I found a thin paper shim used by a carpenter in 1930 to level a closet shelf! Such detailing in unseen places exemplified the quality of work during the Depression.
We turned the whole second story into a modern, vaulted-ceilinged, living room, a sauna, a double-basined/double-showered bathroom, and bedroom overlooking the driveway and entrances to the Main Lodge.
Naturally, we named it Eagle’s Nest (EGL = ee-gul; it was our nest).
A room at the top of the stairs became the office, and I bought my first computer so I could run a word processing program and use Lotus notes for financial reporting. However, we were never able to make or find a program to improve on our reservation system that was nothing more than a ledger with twelve sheets (for the months) of eight lines (one for each room) of thirty boxes (for the days of the month) – availability and occupancy at a glance.
Eagle’s Nest with The Pub on the ground floor
Halfway through this project, we had a request for a reservation from a Mr. and Mrs. Robert Atkinson. They passed the phone interview and came to visit. Nice people: Bob had had something to do with Congress in Washington, D.C., Brenda had pet, miniature horses that ran around in their home. When they left, they wrote in the Guest Book, “Not bad.”
Turned out he was “Andrew Harper” who published something called The Hideaway Report. The Ritchies, neighbors of ours, sent us a copy…
In July, Betsy Boyd brought René Lecler, the travel editor of the U.K.’s big, glossy, important magazine, Harper’s & Queen, to visit.
EGLC, Anne Ryan of ‘I Love NY’ in Albany, Betsy Boyd, and René Lecler
Our weather, on the other hand, was wonderful. The lake was warm, the trees, deep green, the temperature, just perfect.
James on the barge – High Summer on Upper Saranac!
Then this book arrives in the mailbox…
Bob Atkinson sends us this…
Toward the end of the summer my brother and his wife, Helen, arrive. He’s perfectly nice but rather reserved around James. One day, he pulls me aside down at the boathouse.
EGLC and Chris at the boathouse
He’s not happy being a stock broker in Florida… couldn’t he come work with me at The Point?
“I could be the boat boy,” he said plaintively.
I just looked at him. I said, “This is James and my home. You couldn’t fit. I’m sorry.”
The next surprise was a call from Johnny Galliher - he wanted to come visit! For the first time, I had apprehensions about who the other guests were going to be. In any event, he came with an attractive guy. The first night, they dined with the others; the second, they dined alone in their room. ‘Nuff said.’ I wondered if I should charge him the standard rate; I did.
The summer was over, time for another Newsletter…
In November, we decided to start an advertising program. I believed that The New Yorker magazine readers were our market and instinctively knew that the smaller the ad, the more curious the reader. While from a few years later, this will give you the idea…
The two-inch-by-one-column ad was placed every three weeks. Some even had unfinished limericks – you had to wait for three weeks to get the finished rhyme. Each ad cost $1000 – it took three years for this program to break even but it was great PR in the meantime.
To respond to queries, we produced a trifold brochure with an informative rate card as an enclosure.
(These are the same rates that applied
during the Winter Olympics in 1980)
In all cases, a personal letter from me was enclosed. It explained that The Point was our private home, that usually the rooms were full of non-paying friends, but sometimes we had a room or two available for “paying guests” who would appreciate being part of the houseparty.
It went on to explain that in all cases, we would need to chat on the phone to ensure that we were “right” for each other and that all charges would need to be paid in advance.
People kept coming! Then, capping off the first full year with James and me as partners, The Hideaway Report selects us as one of their twelve “hideaways of the year” in the world!...
And Pooh & Charlie sent this…
The year starts out with terrible news: my brother, Chris, had driven into the Gulf in Naples, Florida, and drowned. I go down to the funeral, and try to give my godson, Billy, support. My brother’s youngest, he is devastated.
Almost immediately after, The Point received some very good press, and life went on…
Round about now, I began to have some concerns about our legality. I had never asked any governmental agency for permission to take paying guests let alone provide liquor. We decided to call Albany (the capital of New York State) for advice. I got through to the Board of Health and two or three other agencies. I reminded them of our role during the Winter Olympics and how pleased the Governor’s Office was with our efforts, and explained that we were contemplating taking more than the occasional guest. Could they possibly send someone up to visit with us, have a look over The Point, and advise what changes might have to be made if we increased our activity? Never having heard anything like this before, they sent a very nice man the next week.
He talked about installing lighted, EXIT signs, and fire escape instructions, but that we were basically in compliance already. Nothing was said about a liquor license – our rate included everything whether anyone helped themselves to the bar or not.
We wrote the Governor’s Office with a copy to Betsy Boyd’s ‘I Love NY’ office in Lake Placid, expressed our sincere appreciation of their consultant’s visit, and said that we were going to leave things just the way they were. We enclosed a copy of the Minutes of the Board of Directors’ Meeting confirming same.
And, that was that.
James and I decided that we would close during April. The weather was iffy, it was “mud season,” and the ice usually didn’t go out until the third week of the month – none of it very conducive to elegant houseparties.
Bob Carrier suggested that James attend one of his cooking courses at Hintlesham Hall in England. Hintlesham was Bob’s renowned, country house hotel. I thought the experience would be perfect for James – he’d never been to the U.K. and wanted to see some of my old haunts. It was funny, as I slowly lost my British accent, acquired over nearly twenty years, he assimilated it. He’d fit in and Bob was dying to meet him.
The New York Daily News printed a quip – something about “we wonder if James Myhre is going to Hintlesham to learn or to teach!”
James went off to London; I went to see Mom in Naples, Florida.
On the 7th, he wrote…
And followed up with this on the 10th…
James and I connected in Miami on the 18th and flew to Abaco in the Bahamas. We chartered a forty-foot, Pearson sloop, burned out the engine in “no-wind” conditions, and were towed to Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar on Green Turtle Cay!
We flew to Naples and joined Mom for a few days.
We decided to hire a couple to help us at The Point. I envisioned a kindly butler and James wanted a sous chef. We called several domestic agencies in New York to set up interviews.
We went to the Disney parks in Orlando…
Then, on the 28th, flew to Manhattan and checked into the Wyndham Hotel.
The next morning, the front desk called and said we’d better come down to the lobby. “Lobby” was a grandiose word for the narrow, entrance corridor, and it was jammed with couples who had come to be interviewed! The Wyndham kicked us out; we moved to the Algonquin; a half a dozen of the couples followed us there.
Of them all, one stood out. The couple was Polish. He had been in the Battle of Britain; she cooked. He never said much; she kept saying, “I understand completely.”
I called Manhattan’s major domestic uniform retailer… “I need a butler’s uniform with a 54” waist.”
“Oh, you’ve hired Mr. and Mrs. Nowakowski. Good luck.”
The Nowakowskis arrived by bus on May 4. James explained the menu he wanted her to prepare for dinner… “I understand completely.” I explained how I liked the table set.
Dinner was served… Stuffed Cabbages - not what James had ordered.
Houseguests were expected the next day. I tried to keep the Nowajowskis busy doing back-of-the-house things, but she slipped down to the beach and was wading, shoes in hand when the boathouse guests arrived.
We put the Nowakowskis on the bus that evening and went to the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce the next day to start looking for housekeeping help.
Tupper Lake is the poorest village in the poorest township in the Adirondacks. Most of the men are or have been lumberjacks, the women make babies. After several weeks of interviews, we settle on two nice, young girls who immediately shred their frilly uniforms… they want to wear khakis and red, Adirondack, lumberjack shirts. It’s a better look anyway!
James finds part-time wait staff at nearby Paul Smiths College. Paul Smith's College was founded through a bequest of Phelps Smith, son of Apollos Smith, whose Paul Smith's Hotel, built in 1859, was the most famous wilderness resort of its era. Paul Smith's College is a private college located in Paul Smiths, just a few miles down the road. It’s the only four-year institution of higher education within the Adirondack Park and offers both two- and four-year programs in many fields, including hotel and restaurant management, and culinary arts. Its 14,000-acre campus is one of the largest college campuses in the world. Approximately 1,000 students attend each year. For decades, the college’s hospitality laboratory was the Hotel Saranac in downtown Saranac Lake. Students welcome the opportunity to work at The Point, and our guests benefit from their enthusiasm.
Now that things are settling down, we produce a new in-house enclosure with sketches by James…
It was more than time to refurbish our kitchen. We bought a 6-burner, two-oven, restaurant stove by Garland. Then we found a second-hand, triple-wide, glass-door, Deli fridge – how wonderful to be able to see what is where without having to open a door! To top it off, the local restaurant supply house had a domestic-dimensioned, high-speed dishwasher that would do a full load in THREE MINUTES! It was $3000 (!) and would fit in the pantry; we loaded it on the back of the pickup and drove it home.
Now, James and I got along amazingly well, but it was inevitable that being together 24/7/365, we’d have the occasional tense moment. One came that evening and, wanting to “GET AWAY FOREVER, YOU LIAR!,” he leaped in the pickup and tore out the driveway.
The dishwasher bounced off just past the vegetable garden.
We took the remains back to Saranac the next day and got another one – our $6000 dishwasher could do a load in THREE MINUTES!
We bought a pair of Dobermans from a local breeder. One was steely gray – the breeders call them “blue,” so we called him Calvin, after his blue genes. The other was of usual coloring; we called him Khaki. We did not crop their ears. We loved them; the guests did not…
At the sound of an approaching car, they would tear to the gate, across which we had strung a rope. Guests, seeing two Dobermans coming at them at full gallop, were terrified. We gave the dogs away and installed an intercom in an old outhouse we put outside the rope!
The new summer season was upon us. Besides the good press, people were telling us that our Bloody Marys were famous.
I put this in each room…
Everyone loves a good Bloody Mary!
The Point is famous for its European Houseparty ambiance, its mahogany boats, and its wonderful food. For everyone who’s stayed here, it’s even more famous for its Bloodies!
Everyone loves a good Bloody Mary, and we always have a pitcher on the help-yourself bar off Reindeer Hall, and one on the barge at the boathouse. Since the nearest supermarket is more than an hour’s round trip, James and I learned to keep the larder filled with extras of everything… until we didn’t.
One day we ran out of tomato juice and horseradish at the same time! It was almost lunchtime and we had to have Bloodies.
We ransacked the pantry to see what we could find.
Well, it was easy to substitute V-8 for the tomato juice but what were we going to do about the horseradish? Got it! Heinz Seafood Cocktail Sauce has horseradish in it.
We experimented with the proportions and “the best Bloody Mary mix in the world” was born:
4 cans of V-8
4 cups of Seafood Cocktail Sauce
2 cups Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup Horseradish
25-30 Dashes of Tabasco
(Makes about 2 gallons)
June 1982: We needed a proper color brochure, and, by great good luck, one of our next guests was John O’Hara, a defrocked monk from Montreal who was a very professional photographer. We bartered a few nights for his photography and he returned several times during the summer.
I wrote and ran an ad in The New York Times; my copy included “Simply the most attractive private home in America whose owners welcome paying guests in the European Tradition.” So, I figured, now I could include the phrase in other ads and mailings:
For example, one of John’s photographs became the cover of our new brochure…
Mother came every year for my birthday. She was the kindest, wisest, and most generous person I'll ever know. She was also funny - sort of a mix between Gracie Allen and the Queen Mum. She was so loved by everyone who met her, that guests used to book years in advance just to be at The Point during her annual two-week visit. (She died peacefully at the age of 88.)
Here’s one of the pages of our new brochure with a great shot of James and Mom…
The upper right photograph is of Cedilla, our 23-foot, Pearson sloop; the lower photograph is Bobs II, our 16-foot, 1940, Chris-Craft Utility that Granny and Poppy bought new.
Here’s another page from the new brochure…
Then this came out…
Town & Country returned for my birthday. James was establishing a tradition of exuberant birthday parties for me to which neighbors and “Pointers” came every year.
The morning of the 16th of August, at breakfast, Eddie Carroll, my first guest during the Winter Olympics, put a key next to my plate. “Happy Birthday, this comes with ten hours of float-plane instruction.” This amazing birthday present was the unlimited use of a J3, Piper Cub Bi-plane-on-floats; it was moored at the boathouse!
It wasn’t easy getting to The Point. There were no commercial flights to the nearby Adirondack Airport; it was a six-hour drive from Manhattan. Then Eddie also announced that as of this morning, he was providing us with two single-engined Pipers so we could provide air transportation to our guests! From now on, the passengers could pay the local pilots and Eddie would get the net. What a terrific present!
After breakfast, James said to me, “Find a reason to get off the property until 5 this afternoon.” I went to town to chat with Charlie Keough.
At the appointed hour, I came back to find a full-size, M.A.S.H. tent erected next to the driveway on the lawn in front of The Guest House. All our Oriental rugs were carpeting the inside. The sides had been rolled up, and it was full of our houseguests and about 50 friends from as far away as New York City, many sporting Scottish paraphernalia!
James called for silence, and introduced Pendragon Theatre, a troupe of local players who proceeded to perform Molière’s Tartuffe on the drive! It was marvelous.
Then all went through The Great Hall, decorated as usual but filled with tethered, helium-filled balloons, and down to the Topless Teepee where a giant bonfire was roasting all matter of goodies on spits. After dinner, we all climbed back up to The Great Hall; it had been stripped of its furniture except for… a concert, grand piano!
Two ladies and a gent emerged from the crowd. One lady sat to play, the two gents stood in front, and then these two voices from New York’s Metropolitan Opera Company sang “Happy Birthday” to me!
Now that’s something very special.
Eddie Carroll whispered in my ear and nodding toward James, said, “Now if that isn’t an expression of love, I don’t know what is!”
Later, some even thought that this kind of thing happened every day at The Point. Manifested in myriad ways, it did!
My cousin MayMay, who has the Leonard Camp WaAwA with her husband Dan, that I told you all about in Chapter Fifteen, was at the party and sent this…
Two days later, Mother took us to Litchfield Castle - the place is amazing, do have a look.
Mother said that, previously, Mrs. Litchfield had been a Jacoby, and reminded me that her daughter had been a partner of mine at Arthur Murray’s Dancing Classes in Bedford Hills when I was a teenager.
Over a grand lunch in the castle’s Great Hall (with twice as many trophies as at The Point), I reminisced about Barbara Jacoby having to duck under my arm when we did the Rhumba, but we won the Best Dancers’ prize for Westchester County! I still have the little gold, mechanical pencil.
The next week, our houseguests included M. and Madame Joseph Olivereau, the head of Relais et Châteaux!
Wikipedia - Relais & Châteaux is a global fellowship of individually owned and operated luxury hotels and restaurants. Although the total number of members changes as members are added and others drop away, the group currently has some 500 members in 60 countries on five continents. Strongly represented in Europe, the association is growing in North America, Asia, and Africa.
Established in France in 1954, the Association's mission is "to spread its unique art de vivre across the globe by selecting outstanding properties with a truly unique character."
The group is known for its strict admission standards. In addition to luxurious facilities, members must have special features distinguishing them from chain hotels. Most of them are historic landmarks such as castles, manor houses, or townhouses in idyllic settings and offering exquisite cuisine.
Prospective and current members are evaluated by the group's traditional "five C" motto: Caractère, Courtoisie, Calme, Charme, et Cuisine.
For years, the Relais et Châteaux Guide had been my traveling “bible.” The members epitomized my idea of comfort away from home. The very idea that they were visiting us at The Point was mind-boggling.
James was cool as a cucumber - can you believe, he served Coq au Vin for their first dinner!
At that time, there were only three establishments in the entire United States that met the requirements and had been accepted as members.
The Point became number four!!!
Membership is not free. In the Guide, published and distributed in every members’ rooms worldwide, establishments are coded by color – green being rustic, blue - basic, yellow – very comfortable, and Gold – well, GOLD! The membership is based upon your color category. As we were a simple house with no TV or telephones and as we did not want to disappoint guests, we opted to be blue – basic. Better to be better than what one thought, than being less than what one expected.
Besides the annual fee, there were commissions to be paid to head office in Paris for each guest’s stay.
Quite frankly, to me, to be a member was the highest achievable honor in the world of hospitality – I would have paid almost anything, but, of course, one cannot pay to be accepted. The integrity of Relais et Châteaux is a given - sophisticated travelers around the world depend upon its standards.
When we are advised of our acceptance, we are very, very proud. And, over the years, it turned out that fully ten percent of our occupancy was the result of our membership – more than paying for the costs.
We mounted the bronze plaque next to the front door…
Then this comes out…
As you can see in the above, we served breakfast in the kitchen from 9:00 to 10:30… and everyone used to pile in at 10:35. It was Mother who changed all this. She said, “Look, I spent all evening, first on the barge, then at the table, talking with all these nice people, but I don’t want to see them all again first thing in the morning!”
So, we decided to cut out the cooked breakfast. James would make fresh croissants every morning and we had cute, Adirondack-style, three-tier, carriers that we delivered to each bedroom. They had thermos bottles of coffee and orange juice, a basket of fresh croissants, and little pots of jam and butter. Everyone thought this was a great idea, and mother could stay in her dressing gown as late as she wanted.
In September, we had two commercial events. The first was a photo shoot by GQ Magazine that brought a world-famous fashion photographer and a bevy of beauties, and resulted in dozens of pages of glamorous photographs…
One double-page spread even featured Windsor, one of our cats...
We had two cats – Wallis and Windsor. I used to go out to the lean-to on the point of The Point when the moon was full and watch the cats leap after each other like gazelles. When we moved to the second floor of Eagle’s Nest, we removed a pane of glass from the window nearest a tree. The cats would come and go up the tree, through the missing pane, onto our bed, and back again.
Windsor and Wallis
The second commercial event was the making of a TV commercial for Brim, the instant coffee. They used the boathouse, the Bobs II, and a Cessna on floats. Fun!
Then this appeared…
With our new brochure and lots of nice comments in the press, we produced a new marketing piece to send back to enquiries…
October was getting cold; the lake would soon ice over. Charlie Keough came and we hoisted the Chris-Craft, the barge, and the big outboard up in the boathouse and put planks under them for the duration. Cedilla had to be hoisted out by crane at the head of the lake; we stored it behind the woodshed just inside the gate.
Unstepping Cedilla’s mast
And to round out our busy year…
The new year starts with a bang... I am on the cover of Forbes magazine!
It’s not often that one makes the cover of Forbes, one of the most prestigious business journals in the world. I did, because I walked away from everything I was doing, to do exactly what I wanted to. And when we follow our passion, we are usually pretty good at it.
Below is the magazine’s cover with Upper Saranac Lake, and an outline of me on the phone, as usual, probably saying:
“No, there is no hot tub; no newspapers; portable devices are canceled out by the copper mesh installed in all the walls and ceilings to keep out animals – there is a pay phone; we wear black-tie Saturday night; no menu – my guests have to eat what I serve them, or… raid the fridge.
“That’s the point - The Point is not an hotel or resort – it is my and my partner’s private home and at least half the houseguests are our non-paying friends, so if you spoil their stay, we will kick you out.
“You pay the full price, 30 days in advance. There is no cancellation or refund – send someone in your place.
“Now aren’t you glad you called? There is a four-year waiting list for certain times of the year.”
And also below, is the Forbes cover-article text - one of hundreds that have been written about the place since 1979 when I decided to take paying guests and, with two helpers, cooked for them, served them, cleaned their rooms, changed their towels while serving and entertaining them during dinner, took them skiing – snow or water depending upon the season, and told stories with them in front of the fire until 2 AM!
This was written before James came into my life. Without him, I don’t think The Point would have been nearly as outstanding. Not only did his charm and talent make it special, but he influenced me to be a better person, and that made a big difference.
In February, WNBC-TV in Manhattan called, they wanted to interview me on “Today in New York.” Walking across town to the studio, I was repeatedly stopped by people asking about my kilt – was it true, what do you wear under it? I always told them what they wanted to hear – “Nothing!”
The interview was fun. There were two or three others who had “given up a career to pursue a passion.”
“Weren’t you afraid you’d fail?”
“Of course not!” was the universal answer.
We got some bookings from the show.
Then this came out…
With the “mud season” upon us, we visit Mom in Naples, spend a sleepless night or two in Le Hotel Maison de Ville in New Orleans where “the beat really does go on,” visit James’ parents in Texas – his mother tends a serious garden and serves a wicked bar-b-que! We fly on to Los Angeles.
We’re staying in the Westwood Marquis compliments of General Manager, Jacques Camus. James goes down to the sauna and comes up telling of having shared it with John Travolta!
The next day, we run into Bernie Cornfeld on Rodeo Drive and are invited to his home for dinner in two days. That night, we dine with John Kay.
10 AM the next morning, the door flies open – it’s Bill Masse, my IOS manager from Okinawa! Bernie told him we were here. We fill the day with war stories of the Okinawa and Macau Grand Prix. I hadn’t seen Bill in twenty years, and I never saw him again – he died of cancer not long after.
That night, we had dinner with Mike Beuttler (Chapter Twelve) and John Kay, and by the time we were back in the hotel, James was covered with huge hives. The hotel doctor gave him a shot and, while the blisters disappeared, he didn’t feel all that great about going out to dinner again, even if it was to Bernie’s.
Bernie’s house had belonged to George Hamilton who was also at dinner. I couldn’t figure what looked better – the house or the man.
Bernie talks about us running his chateau with “P.G.s” – he’s always creating!
We head north to stay with Jack Soles, a great friend of Bruce, and visit San Simeon, in the clouds.
Then on to Big Sur, stay at Ventana, and dine at Nepenthe. The next evening, we dine with Tony Hail, Chuck Posey, and Bob Bell at Fleur de Lys, their favorite San Francisco restaurant.
We go on to Napa, stay at The Sonoma Mission Inn, go ballooning, visit the vineyards of Caymus, and Sutter Home, lunch in Yountville, and dine at the Auberge du Soleil.
On the 29th of April, we fly back to Manhattan and home via Teterboro Airport. The weather was heavily overcast but we found a hole and soared down through it to land – wild but safe!
On the ninth of May, the Ralph Lauren shoot started and the house was full of models and crew for several days. This is my favorite shot (on the terrace outside The Great Hall) …
On the 19, I ask our senior pilot, Hank Snow, to fly down to Teterboro to pick up Bill & Freddie, friends from Manhattan, Audré and Bruce for James’ birthday tomorrow. Bill is a regularly published, New York, theatre critic, and Freddie is his administrative manager.
While James goes all out to produce spectacular events for my birthdays, he prefers to celebrate quietly. As his present, I gave him a significant percentage of shares of Wonundra, Inc. and we spent the evening in the Pub.
James, Freddie, Audré, Me, and Bill
A word about Hank – Colonel Hank Snow was a decorated Vietnam veteran who flew spotter planes in the war. With no protection other than a ¾-inch piece of steel that he would sit on, Hank would penetrate the jungle spotting targets and call in the fighter planes to attack them. Now his days were filled with trips to Teterboro, only a few minutes taxi from Manhattan, to pick up or return our friends and guests. Anne, his charming wife, kept their home in Saranac Lake and came out to The Point for the occasional party.
So, my initial prediction had come to pass - James was now running The Point. Every day after breakfast, he drove our pickup the 45-minutes into Lake Placid to see what he could find to make for lunch and dinner. The only choices were from Tom Doty, our butcher, and what was in the cases of the local Grand Union supermarket, and many a day, when the only vegetable was carrots, he had quite a challenge.
Back he would come, prepare lunch, join our guests, water-ski the 65-mile, sinuous shoreline of Upper Saranac Lake, prepare dinner, and host one of the two, round, dining tables. As many of our guests were highly-recognizable figures from the world of government, medicine, business, and the law – it was an education in conversation and charm - rewarding for us all!
As you know, the late René Lecler, the long-time travel editor of England's prestigious Harpers & Queens magazine came to visit last summer and has now written us up in his famous book, The 300 Best Hotels of the World©. Of the hundreds of articles about The Point, his presents the spirit of the place better than most:
"This is undoubtedly one of the two or three oddest places listed in this book. It is not a hotel (heaven forbid) and not even a guesthouse since the only guests there are people whom the owner, Ted Carter, actually likes. It's really like being invited to a houseparty by a man who insists on keeping Armagnac in his boathouse and Vuitton suitcases in the closets.
"Originally The Point was what they call here in the Adirondacks a 'camp.' A log-cabin if you like, except that in this one, having been built by William Rockefeller in the early thirties, one suspects that the only thing that held the logs together were the French Impressionists.
"The feeling hasn't changed much - only the people. It's way up New York State on the shores of Upper Saranac Lake - a jewel if ever there was one - and you arrive in a kind of Cleopatra's barge well stocked with liquids and little titbits and you sail right into the boathouse where sleek speedboats have come to rest…
"Then come the surprises: The Point is absolutely, but absolutely, lovely, a place in which everything you see is total perfection of taste with priceless pieces scattered about in glorious extravagance.
“The Great Hall is so 'great,' with its massive fireplaces and vast couches, that you can't stop looking. Bedrooms are vast, and just the same as the rest of the place - deliciously odd, amusingly grand and yet intimate because this is a lived-in place.
"One eats with one's host and his co-owner, James Myhre, a young man who is one of the finest cooks I have ever met, who produces great food like a conjurer, and everything comes on Carter's own family Meissen (eighteenth century and worth 500 dollars a plate).
"The talk is great, the wine superb and the whole place sparkles with wit and charm.
"Outside, the great dark green woods of the Adirondacks frame a lake of pure silver and the air is like vintage Pommery. Some of the time you sail, trek, go canoeing or just sit there and reflect on your good fortune at just being there."
The above text enlarged –
James and I decide to make our home the upstairs of the boathouse. James builds a canopy for the bed, and I hang nautical flags that spell out our initials – EGLC and JWM.
In June, Bob Carrier, his partner Mohammad, and Bruce come for a long weekend. Bob is thrilled that his idea has worked out so well, and we danced the night away in The Great Hall – it took weeks to erase the scuff marks of Bob’s hard, leather boots!
As they were leaving, Mother arrives. Here’s one of my favorite photos of the two of us…
Speaking of boats (René Lecler mentioned them above), our flotilla was growing.
There was the 35-foot, wicker-furnitured barge named "After You." The barge left the boathouse every evening at seven; it provided a wonderful opportunity for the guests who had arrived that day to get to know the others before dinner. We had a two-night minimum so everyone had the chance to be an "old-timer" and welcome the new.
Then there was "Bobs II" my grandfather's 1940, Chris-Craft utility.
James had a super-restored, Chris-Craft ski boat with a racing bottom; he named it "Blanche du Bois."
In the presence of all this mahogany, we had to get rid of "Diamond Lil," a silver-flaked, James Bond piece of plastic whose ostentation would have blotted any TRW report. She was replaced with an extraordinarily beautiful, 1929, 26-foot, three-compartment HackerCraft which could carry nine people at 45-miles per hour.
Rather "fast" with a substantial bustle and leather upholstery the color of dollar bills, she had to be called "Auntie Mame."
"Auntie Mame" and I made the tour of the lake twice each day to point out the camps of the families which had established Upper Saranac as the bastion of rustic pomp just after the turn of the century - "Main Line" Philadelphia at the north end, The Point in the middle, and damn near all of Wall Street at the south (Loebs, Bache, etc.). For generations, neither end would travel through "The Narrows" to the other...until I got there. Here we are assembling at the dock.
Finally, we had "Cedilla" (it softens the "sea"), a well-behaved, 23-foot, Pearson sloop; plus, a couple of sunfish sailboats, two canoes, an Adirondack Guide boat, some aluminum outboard fishing boats, two jet-skis, and the Piper Cub Biplane on floats that Eddie Carroll gave me for my birthday last year! (The livery is that of the planes that fought in the Battle of Britain.)
My birthday this year was another great surprise that James organized. He flew up one of Manhattan’s great chef/restaurateurs who worked for three days to put on a dinner party for 30 that would rival any in the world!
Then a strange group booked the entire place.
The first clue came the first night at dinner in Reindeer Hall when one of the ladies put out her cigarette in the Meissen dessert plate.
The next day, I swore I heard someone on our only phone, a pay one in the closet we used as the bar, arrange "a contract" on what sounded like someone in New Jersey who owed him.
Then, just an hour or so later, when we were on the barge, he nudged his equally Grandfatherish-looking buddy, turned to me, revealing what I was sure was an odd lump under his left armpit, and squinting one eye, said, "Tell us, how deep is the lake?"
The next night at dinner, one of the men sent his steak back to the kitchen, twice!
I’d never seen James upset before - he ran to the boathouse fuming, and it was all I could do to get him to return to The Great Hall. We were the hosts, after all, and had to rise above the occasion.
The group left without further incident on Monday morning.
In total contrast, blue-nosed, blue-stockinged, and blue-haired, Jane Montant, the editor of Gourmet Magazine arrives with Mathias Oppersdorff, photographer, and Geri Trotta, writer. They go absolutely gaga over the place and commit to running an entire issue on The Point next summer. Mathias and Geri will be back in the winter – they envision me on the cover on cross-country skis!
I wanted to get something really special as a future birthday present for James and, in October, following an advertisement, drove to Buffalo, NY, and bought a “barn-find,” 1925, Ditchburn motor launch, without motor or much else, for that matter. I had it trailed to The Point and hid it in the old garage behind the woodshed at the gate. James didn’t have a clue what I had done or that it was there.
That month, Charlie Keough was admitted to the Saranac Lake Hospital for “plumbing problems.”
Also, I hired Jean Farr to be our secretary. Mrs. Farr lived a few hundred yards down the road and was an excellent bookkeeper. She often said, “figures don’t lie but liars can figure.” We fixed up the garden shed just inside the gate rope for her office, and with Mrs. Farr handling the reservations and accounts, my life got a lot easier.
Then this arrived in the mailbox…
As you can see immediately above, the article introduced James’ new cooking courses – The James Myhre Seminar of Cooking at The Point.
For example, here is a handout from the first day…
This is one of the results of the fourth day…
Here is the recipe for the Coq au Vin James served the President of Relais et Châteaux…
Coinciding with the beginning of the Seminars, this issue of American Vogue came out…
Followed in November by British Vogue...
And in December, this…
We had an uproarious month with lots of charming and dazzling guests. One particularly gregarious group composed this…
James made gingerbread inside…
And I made gingerbread outside…
The year started out with another result of Joe Scott’s PR efforts…
The beginning of January was cold. I was wandering around in my kilt at 30 below zero. We had a lightbulb at the end of an extension cord and hung it under the engine of the van. On the coldest night, our water system quit.
You’ll remember, we draw our water from the lakebed off the beach, suck it into the pumphouse into a 5000-gallon tank, and push it up the hill to the main lodge and other buildings via trenches cut into the solid granite and lined with coal dust against freezing. The wastewater then is piped back down the hill to the water treatment plant, and finally pumped back up to the evaporation (read croquet) lawn.
It’s 2 AM and nothing is moving, in or out, up or down. To start with, the pump that sucks the water from the lake has lost its prime - thank God, I’m in mine, and have the energy to keep at it until 5 AM when it shudders and thrusts! The vision of our guests awakening to no water is a nightmare I never want to experience.
On the seventh, Gourmet returns in the form of Mathias Oppersdorff and Geri Trotta, here to do the winter shots for the summer issue that is to be entirely devoted to all the seasons at The Point!
On the eighteenth, we drive into Placid and have dinner with the Martin Stones. They also have a Distin-designed camp with… an indoor lap pool! Martin ran for Vice President of the United States but the only thing I know he does now is race horses. He invited us to fly down to Saratoga in his twin-prop, executive beauty, to watch him “win” the Triple Crown or some such race.
Now that our membership in Relais et Châteaux is official, I fly down on the 31st to stay at Manhattan’s Union League Club to attend the all-day R&C meeting on the first. There are delegates from all over the world. The members from the United States, Bermuda, Mexico, and the Caribbean elect me as their delegate to represent them at the home office in the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, and at conferences around the world. It is also my duty to vet all establishments who wish to be members in our countries.
That evening, I celebrate by having dinner with Johnny Galliher.
Then the latest Hideaway Report arrives with a nice write-up about James’ Cooking Seminars…
Towards the end of March, we take off on our Spring vacation. We spend a few days with Mom in Naples, then to San Antonio to stay with James’ family. His younger brother is fascinated with me, and his little sister is charming and beautiful.
The first of April, we fly to Zihuatanejo on Mexico’s Pacific coast about 150 miles north of Acapulco. As the taxi drives away from our hotel, I discover I have left the bag with all our shoes in the trunk. The driver returned with it just as I was trying to call the dispatcher’s office in town! Now, isn’t that nice?!
We are staying at Villa Del Sol, thanks to a recommendation from The Hideaway Report. Just down the hill from the villa belonging to the President of Mexico, it’s a nice place – even had our own pool!
I have never experienced such intense sun. I never left the umbrella on the beach but got a terrible, oozing sunburn from the reflective sand. On top of that, I stupidly ate a fresh salad the first day and spent the rest of the time on the toilet.
Then to Acapulco for a few days, rented a VW Beetle, and drove to Cuernavaca, staying a few days at the Cuernavaca Racquet Club, and on to San Miguel de Allende.
Now, this is 1984, and what a lovely place it is. The whole town looks like a spread in Architectural Digest. I especially remember exploring the most beautiful stables one can imagine. We stayed four days with Peter Wirth at Casa de Sierra Nevada – one of my favorite hotels in the world. Is it the hotel or Peter and his beautiful wife? Both, of course. Mrs. Wirth advises the President of Mexico on his art collection. (He also has a place in Zihuatanejo.)
The Wirth family is renowned in the hospitality world. They are Swiss (natch!), and mother is the doyenne of the industry. To me, brother, Roberto is even more amazing. He is the manager of Rome’s Hassler Hotel, and, stone deaf, reads lips in five languages!
We drive to Villas Arqueológicas in Chichen Itza, Merida, to visit the ruins. The only time I have been seriously claustrophobic was inside the pyramid after looking at the jade-eyed jaguar throne and trying to get down the stairwell in which everyone in the world was trying to get up.
We returned home on the first of May and celebrated James’ birthday on the 20th by waterskiing him around the lake until his feet went numb and he fell in. After all, the ice had only gone out a month before!
The beginning of June, the phone started leaping off the hook. Helping Mrs. Farr, who was answering the primary line, I picked up the calls that were rolling over to our secondary.
“Have you got space??!! We HAVE to come!!”
“I’ll call you back; the phones are going a little crazy and our reservationist has only one book. We’ll call you back so you can book.” (Is that where ‘making a booking’ comes from?)
I walked down to Jean’s office; “What’s going on?” I asked.
“It’s The New York Times, they’ve ‘discovered’ us.”
We had just revised our mailer, maybe we needed to do it again…
In June 1984, Spencer Jenkins, a young man on the lake, who had just graduated from boatbuilding school in Maine, came visiting in a beautiful canoe that he had made. He asked if I would like to buy it. I said I’d like to put it in the rafters of The Great Hall – it would look great and surely one of our guests would snap it up. In fact, we could use it to promote a boat-building project that would be fun and provide a diversion for our guests.
And with that, I decided to make another point – “anything can be done, anywhere!”
Together, we worked out a design for a speedboat, and made a deal – I offered to buy the tools and provide the space if he'd build the boat. He agreed; I enlarged the old woodshed at the gate, poured a concrete floor, bought a shop full of woodworking tools, and work began on the first "Carter."
I also hired a friend of his to restore the old Ditchburn I had bought as a present for James.
James said he had no time for boat building – the project was all mine. (Perfect – it kept him from spoiling the future surprise.
While there were hundreds of very special people that came to visit The Point and became our friends, Gretchen Bellinger, and her father were truly memorable. Gretchen’s forebears came over on the Mayflower but we had more than that in common… she was besotted by James! They made the most photogenic couple.
Gretchen has her own fabric design company and is represented by the best-known suppliers in the world.
Gretchen is responsible for the red, lumberjack sofas in The Great Hall. In fact, she came out with a whole fabric collection based on the Adirondacks – one tweed was called ‘Creel’ (the tin-lined, wicker, shoulder basket in which one puts caught fish).
Inspired by her interest in things Adirondack, I decide to have some luxurious boat blankets (read lap rugs) made from the most appropriate of her materials. The blankets are Red & White, or Blue & White, or Black & White ‘lumberjack-pattered’ wool on one side, and black worsted on the other edged with black leather piping. Another model was made from beige, Rolls-Royce headliner material on one side and dark green worsted on the other edged with beige leather piping. Neil Tounsel of Adirondack Upholstery in Saranac Lake made them. We draped them over the sofas in The Great Hall and on the Louis Vuitton trunk in Reindeer Hall, put a very costly price on them, and they sold like hot cakes!
Gretchen and her father were probably the most frequent visitors to The Point, beaten only by Eddie Carroll and maybe Miss Audré.
In July, The Hideaway Report reported…
Metro Golden Myhre presents “Happy Birthday, Ted”
Starring Ted Carter. Co-starring a cast of Forty-eight
Produced by Mr. & Mrs. Edward P. Carter, Jr.
Directed by the Cast of Forty-eight
Music by Tommie Gallagher & Dick Ford & Co.
Staged by Col. Hank Snow
Special Effects by the Gurling Fireworks Co.
Choreographed by New England Video
Special Snacks by Anthony
Water stunts by Blanch DuBois, Elsa Lazlo, Auntie Mame, and Bobs II.
Set design by Rubber Inc.
Costumes designed by Gretchen Bellinger
Best girl Sally Packard
Based on the novel, “What’s The Point?”
The Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce
Skiers by Ed Carroll
Survey by GOD & Adirondack Park Agency
It was another, quite incredible birthday! Starting in the early evening, everyone gathered at the Topless Teepee for drinks.
EGLC, Gretchen, Eddie Carroll, Mr. Bellinger
We all then moved onto the boathouse dock on which Director’s Chairs had been placed.
First, Eddie Carroll’s Chris-Craft swooped by pulling three ‘Cyprus Garden’ skiers.
Then, directed by Col. Hank Snow on a Walkie-Talkie, a stunt Biplane looped the loop, barrel-rolled, and did an Immelmann turn right over our heads.
Mother looks aghast! (Martin Stone, looking left, is dead center)
Then a Cessna comes by trailing a banner…
Mother and me, EVERYONE, loved it! (Eddie Carroll is on the right with the Piper Biplane that he gave me for my birthday two years ago in the background).
After the show, we made our way up the hill to The Great Hall that was decorated with silver, helium balloons. There were even silver, place cards.
After dinner came an equally big surprise…
How he got permission in the middle of the dry summer, I’ll never know, but as the Tupper and Saranac Lake Fire Department trucks idled out of sight, James put on a fantastic fireworks display, the likes of which will never be repeated!
Again, we revised our response-to-queries letter…
The point in updating our communications was to ensure that, even with all the publicity, no one would misunderstand what staying in our home was all about, and nice people would continue to make life delightful.
The next week, the house, but for one room, was full of regulars who excused for dinner; we went into Placid to have dinner with Sally.
Returning home after everyone was in bed, we found a message on the blackboard in the kitchen from the guests who were due tomorrow but who had arrived early.
The message listed everything they wanted for breakfast, and that it was to be set up on the terrace behind Weatherwatch. I couldn’t believe it.
I penned them a note that our version of a Continental breakfast would be delivered to their room as per our standard procedure, and enclosed the material we usually send to people who inquire about staying with us. We went to bed.
About noon the next day, waving my note over their heads, the new couple was holding forth on the terrace outside of The Great Hall and bitching about not getting the breakfast they had asked for, where they had asked for it.
I went to Mrs. Farr’s office; “Who are these people, where did they come from, how did they make a booking, how much had they paid?”
Mrs. Farr said they had been recommended by Gourmet Magazine, the booking had been made through a travel agent, and they never were mailed our brochure with enclosures. BIG MISTAKE! I said, “Give me a check for what they had paid and add $250.”
Lunch was being served in The Great Hall. I went up to the man and put our check in the middle of his plate. “Kindly leave, you are upsetting me and my friends.”
Shocked, he and his wife left the room. I went down to the woodshed near the gate. Shortly thereafter, the couple waved goodbye from their convertible and left through the gate.
Later that day, Jane Montant called from Gourmet. The couple were powerful lobbyists in Washington and had killed the Gourmet Magazine story. “How could we throw them out?”
“This is our home, we only allow people to come and stay with us if they appreciate how fortunate they are being given the opportunity. That’s why we never allow bookings from anyone other than the potential guests themselves. We made a mistake in allowing their travel agent to make the booking. We added $250 to their full refund – something we have never done before – to compensate for the short notice.
“Sorry about your having to cancel your story; I would have looked cute on the cover in my skis.”
In seven years, we asked seven couples to leave. None caused a problem – they knew they didn’t fit.
Sometimes we tried extra hard to make them fit. For example, one day I was chatting with a very nice couple in Reindeer Hall. A new Roll-Royce pulled up to the door. The couple gasped…
“Oh dear, we met those people on a cruise ship. They ruined the trip for us. They are so pretentious! Do something!”
I sauntered out in my lumberjack shirt and kilt and knocked on the driver’s window.
He lowered it and I asked, “How do you like this model. Personally, I have had three but none were this mass-produced version? Now, open the boot and help me with your luggage.”
They turned out to be model guests and got along with the ex-cruise partners like peas in a pod. It’s all in setting the mood.
Making the point…
I think some people on the lake had something to do with Chubb Limited. No one ever asked me, but this advertisement ran in many publications for quite some time…
Speaking of a sense of security, somehow, I doubt if The Point would have happened if it hadn’t have been for my great friendship with Sally Packard. (Mother always said we should have married; well, surely, she wasn’t serious!)
Here she is in a much later photo with her son, George, and partner, Dinah Reath, in their beautiful Chris-Craft, the Peter Pan.
And, suddenly, Christmas was upon us.
Gretchen came and we filled the house with our favorite guests and friends.
James did his ribbon trick on all the trophies, and all looked very festive.
On Christmas morning, everyone was sort of quiet until… James returned from the kitchen with my present…
A Basset! She came with a Certificate…
I named her Gillie (a gillie is a Scottish personal attendant).
Happy New Year…
Gretchen and James
And we put 1984 to bed.
The prototype of the ‘Carter’ speedboat (just how it had become a prototype, I'm not sure, but that's the way my life works) was finished in January and we had to trail it all the way down to Delaware to find ice-free water to test it.
A tribute to Spencer Jenkins' plans, it floated on the water-line and performed as expected. Eddie Carroll thought it was all great and said he’d finance our new boat business. We expanded the woodshed by another 4000 square feet and had five teams of three men each at individual stations on a production line!
My life had another new complication… James knew very well that I had been burdened with bringing up a Basset in London many years ago, so why he thought Gillie was an appropriate Christmas gift, I don’t know. At least she would be friendlier than Calvin or Khaki.
Housebreaking any pet is not easy; with Gillie, it was damn near impossible.
I’d be woken at all hours of the night by the dog wanting to do her business. I’d struggle on my bathrobe, and carry the dog down the snow and ice-covered stairs at 30 below zero.
I picked a convenient snow pile and behind it, she would go. As the weeks went by, she got bigger and bigger, and heavier and heavier. Soon, I’d drop her just beside the foot of the steps.
We had a lot of snow that winter and when it melted, there was a huge pile of dog shit right next to the Pub, and James and I had our second fight.
I asked,” Is this or is this not, MY dog?”
“It’s your dog.”
I called the nearest breeder; she came, and Gillie went to a new home.
And James went to Manhattan and stayed with Bruce.
Anthony, James’ sous chef, and I made do.
It took James two weeks to calm down and return home.
Normal life at The Point resumed. Every night was a "pot luck" dinner party and, as people had read in many articles that this was going to be "the most marvelous experience of your life," each evening was a new challenge for us.
Happily, the one thing everyone had in common was that they were experienced (usually rather jaded) world travelers. All I had to do was ask the lady on my right where she'd been recently, and the travel symposium began.
As the raves got more and more exuberant, guests came to expect more and more magic. There were only so many answers to "Tell us how you came to find The Point" and "How deep is the lake?"
Quite frankly, it was beginning to cloy.
Then in 1985, on his birthday in May, I gave James the restored, Ditchburn. We’d been working on it six days week for more than two years and were still screwing on bumpers at 8 that morning.
I think he liked it, but I’m not sure.
Notice his initials, JWM, etched in the rear door glass; the cocktail glasses and sailor caps were similarly monogrammed. Hey, kids, as in all things, it's the details that matter.
In any event, it was a great addition to our fleet, and guests got really interested in the Carter boats!
Gretchen and me
And it’s August again, and again James does his magic…
We are gathered at the Topless Teepee where James has mounted cutout shields from the Sutherland coat of arms, and, echoing across the lake, the sounds of pipes and drums stir our souls.
Great surprise – Mito arrives from New York and looks stunning in a silver-striped blazer!
My great, old friend, Marianna Field Hoppin, whose father was my father’s classmate at Yale, and her colleague, Bedford Pace, is staying with us. Marianna is perhaps the most talented and erudite PR person in the world. She represents clients like AVIS Rent-a-Car, Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland, and The Hideaway Report. Bedford does similar work for exclusively U.K. establishments. Marianna and I have been discussing her giving us a mention or two on her regular broadcasts on National Public Radio.
Bruce Bolton on the right.
Soon, marching down the hill to the boathouse is a Scottish Pipe & Drum Quintet with Highland Dancers. George Ball and his wife, Ruth, also Scottish, are staying in the boathouse and come running.
They performed a whole collection of Scottish dances. Mother was so proud of James and his amazing thoughtfulness.
We went up to The Great Hall for a delicious dinner, after which Al Cavalieri and Friends made us think we were in the St. Regis on Fifth Avenue with Lester Lanin!
The George Balls are left front; my cousins Cary and Chad Krepp at right.
George Wildman Ball (December 21, 1909 – May 26, 1994) was an American diplomat and banker. He served in the management of the State Department from 1961 to 1966 and is remembered most as the only major dissenter against the escalation of the Vietnam War. He also helped determine American policy regarding trade expansion, Congo, the Multilateral Force, de Gaulle's France, Israel and the Middle East, and the Iranian revolution. Ball was the Under Secretary of State for Economic and Agricultural Affairs for the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He was the 7th U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Mr. Ball's wife, Ruth Murdoch Ball, whom he married in 1932, died in August 1993.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, I opened this…
As the summer wound down, we enjoyed sailing, picnics, and bar-b-ques at the beach.
Center left is Woody Kelly, center is James, right is Woody’s father, Jackson, who features throughout this book.
Me and Eddie Carroll
James (sous-chef Anthony is at the grill)
In September, Eddie Carroll and I had a falling out. One drunken evening at the dining room table, he upped and announced he was no longer going to finance the boat company. I don’t have a clue what caused this total change of attitude, but I think he was having trouble with affairs of the heart. In any event, that was that. The next day, I had to tell all the men that the business was closed. I cried for their families.
David and Christie Garrett were here that weekend and had witnessed the scene at dinner. They lived in Burlington, Vermont, about three hours away, and came quite often. David was a stockbroker, Christie was a landscape architect. The next morning, David came up to me, “Maybe I’d like to buy the boat company.”
Disgusted with the situation, I looked him in the eye and said, “Why don’t you buy the whole place?”
Eventually, after I had given Spencer all the spare parts, materials, and tools that he set up in a barn in Saranac Lake, I heard that Eddie was back in the picture and the men were building boats again. Oh well, some people’s children!
Well, I proved my point that one can do anything anywhere. Now, I can laugh about the UPS truck arriving every day from Plattsburgh, two hours away, with the parts due to go on the boats that day! Some fun!
In November, James and I flew to Amsterdam for a Relais et Châteaux conference. The days were filled with meetings, the evenings with second-rate entertainers in blue velvet suits trying to sing, “Love to Love Ya Baby.”
Can you believe, I gave the keynote speech in French!
We are at the head of the near, right table
James was beginning to make noises about going to Parsons School of Design in Manhattan next year. I knew he wasn’t about to settle down for the rest of his life at The Point and he wanted to know his options. Even though I knew such a move would change our lives, I encouraged it…
He put the Ditchburn on the market through The Robb Report…
We produced a new rate card…
We won’t forget December – The House in the Woods burned down…
However, the month was a riot of people and parties. Jackson and Woody, and Miss Audré came back for Christmas, and Mrs. Farr and her husband joined in as well.
Miss Audré, Mr. Farr, Jean Farr, Jackson, and me. My mother took the picture.
Jean, “Liars-can-Figure,” Farr!
Jackson, Christmas Eve
Jackson, Woody, and me – Christmas Day
Bruce, the Greens, and James - Christmas evening.
And another wonderful year closed with a report from The Hideaway Report…
James had his interviews with Parsons and was accepted. I helped him move into a cute apartment that we furnished with things we had in the attic at The Point.
He was concerned about getting a part-time job and we both felt that working for a caterer would make sense. More interviews; I flew down to take him to Saks Fifth Avenue for black slacks and white, dress shirts for his new job, and make sure he was comfortable in his apartment.
He was a bit stressed but seemed to revel in being on his own.
I found a young, Filipino Maitre d’ for The Point but things were definitely not the same.
On February 6, I called Country Business Services, a business brokerage house in Lake Placid, and put the property and the business on the market.
I also called David Garrett and said I hadn’t been kidding about selling him the place.
David comes back with an offer, we negotiate briefly, and settle on a deal - he will take over operations of the property, its assets, and the business effective March 1.
Specifically, he and Christie would have control of The Point, lock, stock, and barrel, crystal and silver in the pantry, food in the fridges, linens in the closets, L.P. gas and gasoline in the tanks and boats and cars, and canoe in the rafters on March 1, 1986.
To ensure he was happy with the deal, I proposed that we keep the sale confidential until the autumn – he would have all spring and summer to verify its financial status and operations and re-enter negotiations if he felt anything had been misrepresented. Assuming all is copacetic, the sale will become official October 30. Ain’t that fair?!
While we did not have the intention at the time, this takeover allowed The Point to continue its membership in Relais et Châteaux without interruption - normally, establishments must give up membership upon being sold, and, after vetting, the new owner would apply.
I went to Manhattan on the ninth of March…
1986 begins with this from Mother (she always called me "Teda")...
(Mother was present via conference call and signed the document later.)
Then this comes out - a fitting end to James' starring role at The Point...
I moved all my family antiques and personal things into the Pub and instructed the local moving company to crate everything for an international shipment. I was going home to London.
The place still looked good, inside and out…
Note: among everything I left behind are the antique, Thai carvings over the doors and windows, and... Spencer's canoe in the rafters!
David’s first move was to produce this…
He also renewed The New Yorker advertising program…
There were no hitches during the spring and summer and the sale became official on October 30, 1986…
Transposed from the above…
"Adirondack Daily Enterprise, October 30, 1986
"The Point is sold
"By SHAWN TOOLEY
"SARANAC LAKE — A Vermont investor has paid more than $1 million for The Point, an exclusive private inn and resort on Upper Saranac Lake.
"Papers closing the deal were signed this month, ending more than a year of negotiations for the 10-acre complex that once belonged to William Rockefeller.
"Buyers David and Christie Garrett of Charlotte, Vt., plan to keep running The Point like former owner Edward G.L. "Ted" Carter.
""We like Ted's philosophy," Garrett said. He explained the resort will "be run in the same manner ... still like a private home — very exclusive and elegant."
"Records on file in the Franklin County Clerk's office show Garrett paying $1,050,000 for the property itself, which includes some 3,000 feet of shorefront. Add the cost of the established resort business, and Garrett says the final purchase price was "quite a bit more than that," although he is reluctant to reveal exactly how much.
"Carter transformed the former Rockefeller estate into an exclusive and pricey resort in just a few years. He took in his first paying guests during the 1980 Olympics, and by last year The Point was listed among only six American members of the Relais et Chateau, an elite group of about 300 international hostelries.
"The new owners were frequent visitors in recent years and ran it on a management contract with Carter this summer while moving ahead with the purchase talks. It was the Garretts who provided the pontoon boat to carry church-goers to Upper Saranac's Island Chapel when the regular chapel ferry had to be docked.
"While planning to build on The Point's already established reputation, Garrett, who describes himself as being in the investment business, will soon shut down for a month to renovate some of the rooms. The plan is to add more fireplaces and the like to expand on the resort's rustic character.
"The Garretts spend a great deal of time at The Point, but the host and hostess are Mr. and Mrs. Robert Carter (no relation to the former owner), a pair of New Zealanders who used to work at Camp Topridge.
"The Point is not open to the public like a regular restaurant or hotel. Small numbers of guests reserve spots well ahead of time to stay for periods of 2-3 days and longer."
I drove out the drive for the last time on March 21, 1986.
From our first color brochure…
From time to time, there is a photo on Instagram, and there is a good website.
It is obvious that The Point has changed - there was a terrible wind-storm and there are hardly any big trees left - it looks naked and gentrified (see Appendix). Also, it’s no one’s home anymore – it’s a resort, whatever that means. But I hear it’s still pretty good, even if no one is vetting the guests.
It was vital that The Point continued to grow from strength to strength. The credibility of my management, as well as my future in any hospitality-related endeavor, depended upon its continued success, whether I would be an advisor, arbiter, or even the Professor of Hospitality and International Tourism Management at Bangkok University.
“Arbiter” sounds interesting; it’s time for a new chapter in my life.
End of Chapter Sixteen
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