August 28th

The mansions and other Newport doings: Day 4

It’s hardly possible for me to beiieve that I only have ONE day left of vacation.  And, although many of you haven’t been on vacation yet this year, let me remind you that this one hasn’t been all wine and roses.  Like the mornings for example.  Do you know what happens about 5AM everyday when you vaca near bodies of water?  Well,  I didn’t either and I couldn’t figure out why I kept dreaming of screaming neighbors until today, when finally,  I realized the screeching I was dreaming  was no nightmare, but the God Damn seagulls screaming about …well whatever they scream about, as they merrily pooped on my balcony.   And this time, no hotel concierge could fix that.  But seagulls, schmeegulls, I’m still away from the big dirty apple.

So today, after much family pressure, I went to see the manisons (well one mansion)– and basically what they are is homes from the gilded age (early 1900’s) where people felt obliged to spend too much money to show others how rich they were and I have to tell you, the friggin’ Vanderbelts were damn rich.  Their home, The Breakers was HUGE. No, this was the children’s playhouse. The main house was over 100,000 square feet.  But oddly enough, Gertrude Vanderbilt felt terrible about being an heiress (a creature after my own heart, I mean who would want to inherit $200 Mill? Not ME–winning Lotto? A whole other story).  But anyway, she felt that no one would want her for herself, they would just want her for her money so she went to France and became a sculptor and shortly thereafter married Harry Payne Whitney who inheritied an oil and tobacco fortune (thank GOD he didn’t just marry her for her money).  But in the end, the couple were do-gooders and spent their millions on hospitals, art patronage(Whitney Museum), and a whole bunch of other humanitarian efforts. Whew, got that “MUST SEE” out of the way. 

The rest of the day was spent leisurely…kind of like the Vanderbilts–doing nothing but eating (again), watching the sailboats go by, watching the sunset, and then…eating again.  I have to say, today I feel lucky.  Even luckier than people with millions, even say… Madonna.

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