Of Home Entertaining Of Various Sorts



This, our annual “social” issue, reminds me that I have a problem. While Jack and I go to a million benefits, we don’t entertain at home much. Like never—unless we’re giving a party for our godson Doug Herman who is finally getting married. In fact, we pulled that one off in a hurricane—without a generator! But our caterer Andy Burke, bless him, brought a portable one just in case.

Things are so bad that when I asked Jack what he wanted for his eightieth birthday, he said: “Friends here for dinner.” So, guilt-stricken, I called ten of our closest pals and told them I had to have them over. They laughed—and came.

Some people are naturals at home entertaining, like our former neighbors Betty and John Burke (parents of aforementioned caterer). Once they persuaded Hugo Koehler, a big guy with Dick Tracy features, to dress up as Shirley Temple and sing “On the Good Ship Lollipop;” but bounding into the living room, he cracked a giant lollipop on the ceiling and it rained down sticky pieces on us. We also played after-dinner poker there. Jack and I would bring our poker tablecloth imprinted with a large nude woman, and players anted their chips over strategic places.

Mary and Neil Gilliatt’s dinner parties were elegant. They did their own cooking (Mary, I’m sure, in high heels) and Neil smoked the trout and turkey. The staff served it formally—at candlelit tables exquisitely set with the proper silver for every dish, crystal finger bowls and centerpieces of yellow roses from their garden (Neil was famous for his roses). Then we’d adjourn for coffee in the living room where he would stand before the fireplace, read a bit of headline news and lead a lively discussion on said subject. With guests like Reggie Jones of GE, Enid Haupt of the New York Botanical Garden and fearless conversationalists like most of us, we had memorable exchanges.

Pam and Bob Goergen pulled out all stops for an anniversary, complete with a cartoonist to do portraits of us. Their art collection is something to behold, so we weren’t surprised to see gentlemen wired with earplugs discretely posted here and there. But we were surprised at dinner on the tented terrace when the band played “Hail to the Chief” and in walked President Bush. That is, the perfect ringer for “W”. For a while he had us buying into that phony security act, but my tablemate Mr. Republican Malcolm Pray didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

It’s all things Swedish at the Heimbolds’ lovely Christmas party—from glögg to herring salad and princess torte. Charlie, of course, was our ambassador to Sweden; and Monika, a native Swede, works closely with Her Majesty Queen Silvia on her World Childhood Foundation. The moment we all wait for is the appearance of Saint Lucy coming down the staircase singing “Santa Lucia” in white robes with a crown of candles, attended by a little girl similarly attired (but with electric candles). A talented Swedish-speaking teenager and her younger sister have also done the honors.

An aside: On a trip to Sicily, Nancy Vaughn and I found ourselves in a church gazing up at a life-sized statue of Saint Lucy holding a plate of something we decided looked like chocolate chip cookies. Later our guide Luigi explained. The bad guys had done everything to try to kill her—stabbed her, blinded her, finally burned her at the stake. So she is often depicted holding a plate on which rest her eyeballs.

Then there was an annual pig roast hosted by the American Airline pilots who rented an old Victorian house we called the Jolly Green Giant on the Frantz’s island on the water. (Unbelievably, in 1918 the house had been moved from Belle Haven to Riverside by barge.) Memories: Skydivers Curtis Wood and his father dropped in from above. A grande dame, mad that she was seated on the porch beside the only other old lady there, did her best to drink up all the gin in the place and had to be taken home. Come nightfall the pilots built a spectacular bonfire on the beach. But when some busybody from across the water in Old Greenwich reported it, the fire department arrived, their engine got stuck on the little bridge over the causeway and the firefighters were invited to stay for a beer. 

Gimmicks: That’s what you need for a good party at home. To celebrate Derby Day, Karen and Gerry Fox make sure a jockey on horseback greets their guests at the top of the driveway. Penny and Ray Foote have a friend who plays such incredible piano that even tone-deaf guests want to sing along. The Von Gontards threw a Western party where Adie, a magician of note, startled a guest by landing a white dove on top of her cowgirl hat. Edgar and Peggy Walz (now Beecher) gave unforgettable scavenger hunts, where guests had to drive all over town tracking clues before returning for dinner and the grand prize—a case of rum (miniature bottles of Mount Gay). For wedding showers, like one for Boo and Hank Huth, Jack and I relied on a palm reader named Marianne, in real life a travel agent on the Avenue. She was always on target and in character right down to her gossamer shirts and gold loop earrings.

Hmmm. We did have fun. Maybe I should crack out my hostess apron again.

 

Greenwich Agenda

  • Meet Bestselling Author Ayelet Waldman

    2014.10.30
     @ Organic Planet

    On October 30 at 10am, JCC Greenwich will present New York Times bestselling author Ayelet Waldman, who will discuss her latest novel Love and...

  • Exhibit Ira BARKOFF

    2014.10.11
     @ Canfin Gallery

    “The beauty of the physical world becomes a metaphor for the capacity of the spirit to reveal itself". Ira Barkoff Evocation of...

  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • SPLURGE Matches Scarf Donations for Cancer Patients

    2014.10.01
     @ SPLURGE

    SPLURGE and the Cancer Institute at Greenwich Hospital are partnering to bring comfort and encouragement to cancer patients.  From October...

  • Flinn Gallery Art Opening

    2014.10.30
     @ Flinn Gallery 2nd floor

    FLINN GALLERY Opening Reception 'IN FOCUS' Thursday October 30, 6 - 8pm Seven artists share their visions - Carolyn Conrad,...

  • Laurel House Family Seminar Series

    2014.09.18
     @ Laurel House

    Thursday evenings, September 18, October 2, 16, 30, 6:30-8:00 pm Join us Thursday evenings for this four part Family Seminar Series as...

  • Flower Power

    2014.10.08
     @ SM Home Gallery

    SM Home Gallery show featuring two Greenwich based artists: Margaret Bragg and Penny Putnam. The art show runs thorough November 22nd....

  • IMAGINE CANDY- SWEET TASTINGS!!!

    2014.10.24
     @ Imagine Candy

    Imagine Candy located in Scarsdale Village- Winner of 2014 Best West of Westchester by Westchester Magazine- holds a Belgian Chocolate and Candy...

  • Harvest Fair and Gift Show

    2014.11.01
     @ Second Congregational Church

    Event Will Include Hay Mazes, Games, Crafts, Food, Holiday Shopping The community is invited to a Harvest Fair and Gift Show on Saturday, Nov....

  • New Fitness Class: SalsaTone

    2014.11.01
     @ Latin Moves Dance Studio

    Starting November 1st ~ Every Saturday morning 10 to 11 AM Instructor: Melissa Lopez Start your weekend off right with this exciting cardio...

  • Lynne Scalo Design Opening

    2014.11.05

    Please join Lynne Scalo, Greenwich Magazine and athome Magazine to celebrate the Greenwich showroom opening of Lynne Scalo Design Cocktails...

  • Breast Cancer Alliance Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show

    2014.11.06
     @ Hyatt Regency Greenwich

    Breast Cancer Alliance to Host Branching Out, Coming Together, Aspiring to a Cure 19th Annual Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show: November 6,...

  • Free Screening of Documentary ' Children of the Inquisition'

    2014.11.06
     @ Bush-Holley House

    Join filmmaker Joseph Lovett as he presents his documentary film and multi-platform project of personal exploration and...

  • P.A.L.S. 2nd Annual Soarin' Soiree~ November 7, 2014

    2014.11.07
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    You are invited to join our State Senator, L. Scott Frantz and our First Selectman, Peter J. Tesei, for an awe-inspiring evening to benefit Patient...

  • John Hardy Event

    2014.11.08
     @ Bloomingdale's

    John Hardy One of a kind. One at a time. Each by hand. Bloomingdale's is inviting YOU to meet the head designer Guy Bedarida as he presents...

  • Olivine Gabbro Opening

    2014.11.08

    Olivine Gabbro invites you to join them for their Opening Party! DJ | Cocktails | H'Orderves | Gift Bags Made to Measure Beautifully...

  • Meet Joshua Safran, Author of "Free Spirit: Growing Up On the Road and Off the Grid"

    2014.11.11
     @ YWCA Greenwich

    Meet the author of this powerful memoir. Joshua Safran is an author, attorney, occasional rabbi, and nationally recognized advocate for...


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