The Wentworth Legacy – Chapter 2

The Wentworth Legacy

 A Long Island Novel

To read Chapter 1, click here.

Kirkus Review:

Morgan (The Iron Butterfly, 2015, etc.) offers a historical novel about a wealthy young man struggling to choose between marrying the woman he loves and maintaining his family’s legacy.

In 1927, 25-year-old Spencer Wentworth receives a telegram calling him home to New York City from his travels in London. When he returns to his family’s estate on the North Shore of Long Island, known as the “Gold Coast,” he’s devastated to learn that his grandfather has died. Worse, the old man has bequeathed all his personal holdings to Spencer. Daunted by his new obligations regarding the family banking business and the Wentworth Hall estate, he decides to work as a teller in order to learn his business from the ground up. Meanwhile, he grows emotionally attached to his sister’s friend, Lorna Beckett, a middle-class girl of striking beauty. At the bank, Spencer learns quickly, but his success is eclipsed by the impending economic depression; he worries that his growing debts will result in the loss of the family’s business and home. As a last-ditch effort to salvage the family portfolio, he forsakes Lorna and attaches himself to Sally Sinclair, an affluent longtime acquaintance, as he’s convinced that marrying her is the responsible choice. But will he amend his path to contentment before it’s too late? This plot-driven, emotionally complex tale effectively details Spencer’s determination to sacrifice his own happiness in favor of his family’s success. In accessible prose, the novel provides numerous historical tidbits about Long Island and Manhattan in the age that immediately preceded the Great Depression (“the arrival of modern technology…brought about the bicycle, Model T, radio, electricity, electric appliances, motion pictures and towering skyscrapers”). With harrowing intensity, Morgan also illustrates the pervasive anxiety just before a disastrous era hit. Overall, she delivers an engrossing love story while also depicting surprising burdens borne by New York’s wealthiest families during the late 1920s.

An engaging tale of a young man’s coming-of-age that will appeal to fans of complicated family sagas.

Chapter 2

Leaden gray clouds hovered across the sky. The wind was still howling, but the heavy rain that had fallen hard in the morning had slowed down to a drizzle. Spencer Wentworth had left his London home in Knightsbridge in heavy rain to go to Southampton to board his ship, which would take him back to the United States. The morning was cold and damp, and he could feel the chill dampness even underneath his heavy wool coat, but it did not dampen his spirit as he looked forward to coming home after three years abroad.

At the pier, passengers started arriving with their vast amount of luggage and trunks. Louis Vuitton luggage and trunks with the LV pattern and some with the checkerboard pattern with a wood brace were prominent among the wealthy passengers. Others brought large suitcases for gowns, tuxedos, dresses, and business suits. There were special boxes for footwear also. There was smaller luggage for whatever they needed while on board. The big ones were held on the ship’s baggage hold. Some passengers checked their luggage straight to the ship from their home location, confident that they would be on their ship when they boarded the ship.

Passengers would dress up to board a ship, even those on the third class, mostly in black or gray with few exceptions. The younger passengers opted for a brighter color. They brought books, magazines to read,  and diaries to write down their thought and experience. They carried cash, and some had a letter of introduction. The rich had their jewelry and other valuables stored at the purser’s vault for safekeeping. Everyone seemed to have a gold watch, with some men had a pocket watch.

Spencer found his way amidst the huge crowd at the pier, where men in topcoats, fedoras, and caps and women with large hats mounded with sewn-on flowers carried their umbrellas, bags, and other belongings outside the terminal. Toddlers and young children all bundled up in heavy coats held on tight to their mothers or nannies. At the far side of the building, the RMS Olympic’s hull loomed above the harbor in a black wall of steel with the funnels spewing braids of gray smoke into the mist above, getting ready to depart as thousands of well-wishers gathered along the pier.

There were three different classes of passenger cabins at RMS Olympic based on wealth and social class. The wealthiest passengers traveled in first class. They were mostly members of the upper class, wealthy businessmen, politicians, socialites, professional athletes, and others who could afford the first-class ticket.

Spencer was traveling alone in first-class. Some in first-class traveled with their staff – maids, nurses, governesses for their kids, valets, cooks, and chauffeurs. They were given the list of first-class passengers, a “who’s who” of the rich and famous. Mothers made sure their daughters meet rich bachelors while on board. Spencer was a target of some mothers for their daughters.

The first-class passengers had the most luxurious accommodations, some with a private promenade deck. They enjoyed several amenities, including large dining rooms, a lavish Grand Staircase, a smoking room for men, a Veranda Cafe decorated with palm trees, and several other places for meals and entertainment, a saltwater swimming pool, electric and Turkish bath, gymnasium, a squash court, and a barbershop.

The middle-class travelers, which included middle-class English and American families, clergy, authors, professors, some tourists, and the ship’s musicians, were the second-class passengers. The musicians were not considered members of the crew but worked with an agency under contract to White Star Line. Second-class passengers ate at the dining room for the second-lass passengers. They had their library, and the children could read children’s books at their own library and played shuffleboard at the second-class promenade.

Some traveled alone or in small family groups. Several groups of mothers were traveling alone with their young children. They would be joining their husband, who had left for America before them, to find jobs in the new country and saved for their families’ passage to America.

The third-class, or steerage passengers were mostly immigrants moving to the United States for a better life. Compared to other ships, they had reasonable accommodation. They had their dining room with chairs, not benches as in other ocean liners, and the third-class kitchen staff prepared their meals.

Although single men and women in third-class were separated, they have their own cabins; women in the stern and men in the bow section of the ship. There were two public bathtubs, one for men and the other for women. They could play cards or chess in the third-class common room. The third class even had their own smoking room, and children played in the common area.

The White Star Line’s trio of Olympic-class ocean liners was RMS Olympic, RMS Titanic, and HMHS Britannic. The RMS Olympic was the lead ship and the largest transatlantic ocean liner in the world for two periods during 1911-1913, interrupted only by slightly larger RMS Titanic. The White Star Line’s trio of Olympic-class ocean liners’ name ends with ‘ic’, paralleling Cunard line ending with ‘ia’. All of them had nine decks, of which seven were for passenger use. They also have four funnels, but one was a dummy funnel used as a huge ventilation shaft.

Two did not have long service lives and were lost early in their careers. RMS Titanic sank on the night of April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic, claiming more than fifteen hundred lives. HMHS Britannic sank on November 21, 1916, after hitting a mine laid by the German minelayer submarine U79 in a barrier off Kea Channel in the Mediterranean during World War I killing thirty people. Unlike her younger sister ships, the RMS Olympic, the lead vessel, enjoyed a long and illustrious career and had a career spanning twenty-four years. During World War I, RMS Olympic was used as a troopship earning her the nickname “Old Reliable”, and her captain was knighted in 1919 for valuable services in connection with the transport of troops.

Spencer boarded the RMS Olympic to take him home to New York. Once aboard the ship, Spencer was led by a steward through one of the three elevators behind the lavish Grand Staircase onto his luxurious cabin, a stateroom equipped with a private bathroom on B Deck starboard side. The steward told him he could have his meals in the ship’s large and luxurious dining room, in the more intimate A La Carte Restaurant, or at the Café Parisian, giving the first-class passengers more options for their dining pleasure. Spencer deposited his small suitcases and made sure his trunks and shoe case had arrived. He thanked the steward, gave him a tip before he left. He tested the locks on his suitcases and trunks and then went back out to join the crowd on the A deck promenade, which was wide open along the ship’s whole length.

Behind the Grand Staircase were three elevators that went up to A deck and down to E deck. Since he was only going one flight, he opted to use the Grand Staircase with two rows of stairs bisected by a middle railing. At the foot of the Grand Staircase stood a putti statue on a plinth holding a torch lamp. Above a fancy grillwork starting from the newel of carved acanthus leaves, there was a set of sweeping railings. An elaborate niche for a wall clock stood prominently below the domed ceiling at the center of the top landing, surrounded by paneled walls.

He saw family and friends of passengers were allowed easy access to come aboard without question to see passengers off. He looked out to sea, and it was rough and metal gray. He wished it was better weather to cross the Atlantic, but it couldn’t be helped. Weather was always unpredictable, and so was life. You could not know what would happen next. It happened to him just as suddenly as the weather changed. He had not envisaged coming back to New York this year, although he missed home once in a while and wanted to go back. He still could not believe that within a matter of days, he would be in New York.

As the whistle blew and the stewards ordered the visitors to disembark, Spencer began to relax, knowing he would be home in six days. He was drained, mentally and physically. The last few days were hectic trying to get everything in order before his unexpected departure. The break-off of his lease to his home at Knightsbridge was left to the care of his London solicitor. Regarding the shipment of his belongings to New York, he gave instructions to Mr. Granger on what to ship and the rest to be given away. His bank account had to be closed. All of these things had to be taken care of. He sought the help of some trusted friends to help him out with the details of his leave-taking. He found a job for Mr. Granger and his wife and gave them a hefty bonus for which they were grateful, and they wished him good luck and safe crossing.

Leaving England was a hard thing for him to do. He was getting used to a life of leisure. He loved the English countryside, and he was fascinated with the English ladies of the aristocracy. With his impressive credentials, a man with deep pockets, and good looks, he was constantly invited to parties. Mothers of the young English ladies vied for his attention to get him to their parties and be introduced to their daughters. As his association with the British high society broadened, he found English women were more reserved than their American counterparts, but no one seemed to capture his heart. He did not think he had found the right woman to share his life with. He was having such a grand time and did not want to be tied down with anyone. Still, the invitations kept on coming. At the start of the London Season, he was invited incessantly to fancy balls.

Spencer was glad to be able to book a passage to New York on the RMS Olympic. So, in a cloudy spring afternoon in early April 1927, Spencer stood with his face toward the wind, gripping the RMS Olympic railas it set sail from the White Star piers of Southampton. With the wind blowing vigorously, he looked sad and nostalgic about leaving. He realized it would be a while before he would set foot on English soil again, if ever.

As the RMS Olympic left port, life at sea began to set in, and passengers had to adapt themselves to the assigned tablemates or dined alone. Like Spencer, unaccompanied travelers faced the prospect of being seated with someone he had nothing in common. If he was lucky, he could meet a pleasant fellow or a beautiful maiden, and romance got kindled, or he could get dumped. If he was unlucky, he could be seated with a boor and be miserable the entire voyage. But the food was always excellent and plentiful, even in third-class. In first-class where Spencer was, it was lavish. They had soups, hors d’oeuvres, and delicious entrees and desserts at all meals. There was plenty of liquor – several cases of Canadian Club Whiskey, Black and White Whiskey, Plymouth Gin, French red wine, Chablis, and barrels of stout and ale. Passengers drank and smoked a lot which was a significant source of profit for the White Star Line. There were thousands of cigarettes and cigars from Havana, Manila, and the United States. For those passengers who brought pipes, there were several hundred pounds of loose tobacco in 4-ounce tins. Some passengers also got their own. During the voyage, the scent of combusted tobacco was ever-present, especially after dinner.

Spencer did not mind sitting with strangers at his assigned table. He saw it as a way of meeting new friends. It was on his second night at sea when he was having dinner with a new group of passengers when all of a sudden, someone said, ‘Either I am getting a little drunk, or it is getting rough.’ They found themselves swaying and leaning sideways in their chairs. They heard a crash and the sound of falling cutlery. At their table, the wine glass toppled and rolled over as they steadied their plate and forks. They looked at each other with expressions of profound horror.

Silence followed the crash, then a high, nervous babble of laughter. Stewards laid napkins on the pools of spilled wine. They tried to resume the conversation, but all were waiting as the next significant blow, and it came heavier than the last. The ship rocked from side to side. Some women at their table started rising and saying good-night. The dining room was emptying fast.

Then, there was another climb, then another drop. The stewards were at work straightening things up, shutting things down, and putting away insecure items. Spencer left with two couples and aimed for the lounge. On their way to the lounge, they had to cling to a pillar. It was almost deserted when they got there. The band played but no one danced. A few passengers read books, a few playing bridge, some men drinking brandy and smoking cigars, but most of the guests had disappeared to their cabin. Then the two couples decided it was time to call it a day, and Spencer was left alone. He decided to walk around the ship on one of the covered decks where the wind howled, and the spray leaped up from the darkness and smashed white and brown liquid against the glass screen. He then decided it was time to go to his stateroom and go to bed.

He went to his stateroom with the ship swaying back and forth. She was rolling now as well as pitching, and his head rang with every creak and thud. All he could think of was the RMS Titanic, and he hoped and prayed to make it to New York. He did not get much sleep that night.

The next day, the wind had dropped a little, but it was still blowing hard, and there was a very heavy swell. Spencer decided to go to breakfast. He went around the promenade, but it was hard going. When the ship rolled heavily, he held on to the rail. He could see the grey sky and the black water outside. The howl of the wind was now subdued. There were few people about that day. Only the brave souls were about, but they did nothing except sit rather glumly in their armchairs, drank occasionally, and exchanged congratulations on not being seasick. A web of lifelines stretched across the lounge, and they seemed like boxers, roped into the ring.

The wind stopped howling, and the sun was up on the fourth day. Passengers started coming out on the deck and began socializing again. Spencer wanted to be alone for most of the day till dinnertime.

He would sit on the deck with a steamer rug over his shoulders, reading or just staring at the sea and wondering what lay ahead in his future. He would give some extra cash to the steward to obtain him a good seat. The quality of mid-ocean wind and sun was curiously invigorating. Sometimes, he would take a break from reading and enjoyed watching some of the games played on deck during the daytime. He found it quite entertaining and relieved some of the boredom he found unbearable.

In the evening, there were concerts and talent shows in the first-class lounge. The room was large and warm and carpeted in maroon and beige with two grey marble fireplaces with serpentine mantelpiece in the front and rear walls and a curb of a pierced scroll-and-shell pattern. The lounge was the finest room built in a ship and as opulent as a stateroom in a palace. The room was decorated in the Louis XV style based on interiors at the Palace of Versailles. The walls were paneled with finest English oak carved with delicate boiserie decorated with scrolled floral-and-shell ornamentation. At the entrance to the First-Class restaurant, there was a revolving door, a feature that only appeared on RMS Olympic, which needed a way of keeping sea breezes out of the room.

As the days passed, he began to enjoy his voyage more and more and made new friends, such as one does on an ocean crossing. Unhappily, the voyage was nearing its end. Before the crossing was over, Spencer Wentworth, like most young people in the first-class, discovered that the third-class lounge was far livelier than their public rooms’ stuffy uprightness. All the most attractive girls on the ship seemed to be in third-class, and they were having more fun at their party. However, just as the young men in the first-class were trying to go to the third-class, some bold young passengers from the third-class were trying to sneak into the first-class. All they needed was a dinner jacket and the audacity to break the barrier.

How ironic could that be? Spencer began to see the difference between the social strata of society. He was never exposed to this situation before. The things that he took for granted, he found out was very important to some young people. He also discovered that the less privileged class had more fun in life than the upper class.

Spencer found some young men of his age from the third-class to trade places, so they sneaked into the third-class. It was awkward at first, but as the music got louder and livelier, they forgot their inhibition and joined in the fun. The dance got wilder as the evening progressed. By the time they left the third-class and met their counterparts to retrieve their jackets, Spencer could not care less if he got his jacket back. He had the most wonderful time of his life, which he would never forget.

The Wentworth Legacy is available for purchase at Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.

The Wentworth Legacy – Chapter 1

Kirkus Review:

Morgan (The Iron Butterfly, 2015, etc.) offers a historical novel about a wealthy young man struggling to choose between marrying the woman he loves and maintaining his family’s legacy.

In 1927, 25-year-old Spencer Wentworth receives a telegram calling him home to New York City from his travels in London. When he returns to his family’s estate on the North Shore of Long Island, known as the “Gold Coast,” he’s devastated to learn that his grandfather has died. Worse, the old man has bequeathed all his personal holdings to Spencer. Daunted by his new obligations regarding the family banking business and the Wentworth Hall estate, he decides to work as a teller in order to learn his business from the ground up. Meanwhile, he grows emotionally attached to his sister’s friend, Lorna Beckett, a middle-class girl of striking beauty. At the bank, Spencer learns quickly, but his success is eclipsed by the impending economic depression; he worries that his growing debts will result in the loss of the family’s business and home. As a last-ditch effort to salvage the family portfolio, he forsakes Lorna and attaches himself to Sally Sinclair, an affluent longtime acquaintance, as he’s convinced that marrying her is the responsible choice. But will he amend his path to contentment before it’s too late? This plot-driven, emotionally complex tale effectively details Spencer’s determination to sacrifice his own happiness in favor of his family’s success. In accessible prose, the novel provides numerous historical tidbits about Long Island and Manhattan in the age that immediately preceded the Great Depression (“the arrival of modern technology…brought about the bicycle, Model T, radio, electricity, electric appliances, motion pictures and towering skyscrapers”). With harrowing intensity, Morgan also illustrates the pervasive anxiety just before a disastrous era hit. Overall, she delivers an engrossing love story while also depicting surprising burdens borne by New York’s wealthiest families during the late 1920s.

An engaging tale of a young man’s coming-of-age that will appeal to fans of complicated family sagas.

Chapter 1

He walked quietly into the entrance hall, where only one light was turned on. The whole house was dark except for the table lamp, dimly lit, casting a shadow across the hallway. As he walked in, a light yellow piece of paper caught his attention right away. It was staring him right in the face as he opened the door. It was placed neatly on the silver tray on the entrance hall table in his home in Knightsbridge, an exclusive residential and retail district in Central London within walking distance from Hyde Park and Harrods. It was odd that there was something on the silver tray.

Mr. Granger, his butler, a man of medium height about 5’10” with a round face and bespectacled and an air of authority, delivered his mail to him on the silver tray when they came in the day but usually nothing at night. He remembered telling Mr. Granger not to wait for him when he left his house earlier that evening to go to the 1927 Spring Ball at Grosvenor Square. He knew he would be very late. It was now almost two o’clock in the morning. Mr. Granger must have left the yellow piece of paper on the silver tray, knowing he could not miss it when he came home.

Spencer Wentworth had too much to drink at the party and was too intoxicated to comprehend what he saw. He picked up the yellow piece of paper gingerly, opened it, and tried to focus his eye with difficulty. It was a telegram. He started to read.

The telegram said, “COME HOME STOP URGENT STOP.” Just five words, so powerful in their brevity. He stared at them and frowned, his mind slowly absorbing what he read. It was not what he expected to see coming home late at night. He read it one more time. “COME HOME STOP URGENT STOP,” it said. There was no explanation and no denying it was urgent. It said so. He looked at the signature. He thought it might be from home, from his father, George Wentworth Jr., but it was not. Their family lawyer, Alistair Prescott, signed the telegram. “Why would Prescott send me a telegram? What could be so urgent?” He wondered what it all meant.

He put the telegram in his pocket and turned on the sconce light on the stairway. Then he switched off the table lamp light and went straight upstairs to his bedroom. He could not do much tonight and decided to deal with the telegram in the morning when he would be sober.

Upon entering his bedroom, he took off his clothes and draped them on a chair by his secretary desk. He took off his cufflinks and his pocket watch and placed them on his bureau. He sat by the edge of his bed, took off his shoes, and donned his pajamas, which Mr. Granger had laid on his bed earlier and got ready for bed. He felt tired and exhausted and just wanted to go to sleep.

He turned off all the lights and slipped under the bed covers. As soon as he hit the pillow, he forgot about the telegram and went right to sleep.

A few hours later, he woke up with a start and rubbed his eyes. It was still dark. He wondered what time it was. He closed his eyes again but could not go back to sleep. He opened his eyes, and he stared at the ceiling. He suddenly remembered the telegram.

He got up, turned on the light on his night table, and walked to the chair where his clothes were. He remembered he put the telegram in his pocket but could not remember what was in the telegram. He turned on the light on his desk, retrieved the telegram from his pocket, and read it. “COME HOME STOP URGENT STOP,” it said. He placed the telegram on his desk.

He walked toward the window and opened it. The night air was cool, and he could feel the breeze on his face. The crescent moon was casting a shadow on the landscape. He stared at the pattern of the opposite rooftops and walls of the nearby buildings, barely able to recognize their familiar outlines. Aside from a couple of night stragglers on the street walking by, the street was quiet and empty.

He thought of home, but unpleasant thoughts came circling in his mind. He thought of reasons why the family lawyer wanted him home. He wondered if it had anything to do with his grandfather’s death, George Wentworth Sr. It had to be. He was sorry he missed the funeral. That was the last time when he received another telegram, a few months ago. It was from his father informing him of his grandfather’s death. His father said there was no need for him to come home, so he stayed in London. Now the lawyer wanted him home, and it was urgent. “Why?” he wondered.

Spencer Wentworth, a tall, lean, and handsome young man, in his mid-twenties with blond hair and deep blue eyes and a penchant for expensive clothes, was a scion of one of the fabulously wealthy families in New York. He loved to party and had never done any work in his entire life. He grew up in a privileged environment with all that money could buy. His father, George Wentworth Jr., was the only child of George Wentworth Sr., the founder of Wentworth Bank. His mother, Margaret Ashforth Wentworth, a beautiful debutante from Tuxedo Park when George Wentworth Jr. met her at her Debutante Ball and married her within the year of their acquaintance, also came from a prominent old money family in New York.

Spencer and his family lived in Meadow Brook on the North Shore of Long Island in a huge estate called Wentworth Hall. It was on a high elevation surrounded by over 500 acres of land where one could even see the Atlantic Ocean on the south shore on a clear day. Spencer’s grandfather, George Wentworth Sr., built the Wentworth Hall. They also had another large house in New York City on Fifth Avenue near Central Park and a winter residence in Palm Beach, Florida. The Wentworth family belonged to several private clubs, most notably the Piping Rock Club, the Meadow Brook Country Club, Knickerbocker Club, and Colony Club.

Spencer Wentworth, aged twenty-five, and his sister Emma, four years younger than he, always lived in luxury. They grew up with a nanny, a tutor, and a governess always watching their every move. A butler managed the house, assisted by a housekeeper and a cook. Under their management, there was a large staff of servants in all their homes: footmen to help the butler, upstairs and downstairs maids who took care of the maintenance of the house, stable men to take care of the horses and the stable, gardeners to take care of the grounds and chauffeurs to manage the garage and the dozen cars that replaced the horse-drawn carriages and have them ready at will for the family. Work at the house started in the morning’s early hours before the family members left their beds. In the hierarchy of a large household, the scullery maids, parlor maids, and chambermaids scuttled about, removing the remains of the previous day’s fires in all the grates, polishing, dusting, so that when the family arose, everything was ready for them and the work continued till the family retired to bed.

Spencer and his sister, Emma, were tutored at home before he went to boarding school at aged eight, and Emma went to Miss Potters School for the Girls. From boarding school, Spencer went on to prep school in New Hampshire and on to an Ivy League school like all men of his social standing would do. Spencer went to Harvard as expected of him, a Wentworth, like all men in his family, did.

Before the 1920s, few people other than the wealthy children attended college and were almost universally men. In the 1920s, effectively freed from tradition by World War I, young people began swarming colleges – to learn, but also, for the first time for many, simply to have fun. By the end of the decade, 20 percent of American college-age youth were on campuses. Few women did. Emma went to Vassar College later on. A famous limerick of the time went: She doesn’t drink. She doesn’t pet. She hasn’t been to college yet.

Three years ago, after his college graduation from Harvard, Spencer left the United States and sailed for Europe on a grand tour in June 1924. Although he went away to boarding school since he was eight years old, his sojourn abroad was the longest he had been away from home. At boarding school, he could always go home on holidays. Going away to Europe was another matter. It was too long to make the crossing, and so he stayed in Europe. He spent his days enjoying the life of a bachelor with plenty of money to pay for whatever his heart desired. With his good looks and a never-ending supply of money in his bank account, he was able to mingle easily with the moneyed class and the aristocracy.

Spencer wished he was home when his grandfather died. He was very close to his grandfather, who was instrumental in why he was in Europe enjoying the good life. It was his grandfather who insisted he take the grand tour of Europe after his college graduation. He believed that a young man of his stature should and was expected of him. It would be an excellent education for him to see the world. Harvard education was not enough, according to his grandfather. His grandfather told his parents that he would finance his sojourn in Europe and money would be deposited in his bank account every first of the month, and so he sailed for England on the RMS Olympic, the largest ship in the world at that time.

Being the most luxurious transatlantic ship and the first in a new class of superliners at that time, RMS Olympic made her maiden voyage on June 14, 1911, and arrived in New York seven days later, on June 21, 1911. The press gave her extensive coverage, and she attracted much attention from the public. After she arrived in New York, RMS Olympic was opened up to the public and received thousands of visitors, and more spectators came to watch her depart from the New York harbor for her first return trip.

RMS Olympic attracted the rich and famous of the day during its run, including Charlie Chaplin and Prince Edward, then Prince of Wales among the celebrities that she carried. One of the RMS Olympic’s attractions was that she was nearly identical to the RMS Titanic, which sank after hitting an iceberg on her maiden voyage. Many passengers wanted to experience the voyage of the ill-fated sister ship of RMS Olympic. Spencer was one of them and enjoyed his voyage to England three years ago.

For his first year abroad, he visited most countries in Europe except Germany. He went to England, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Monaco, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria, enjoying various cities along the Mediterranean coast, hopping from club to club, going to art museums, attending concerts and operas, and having a great time. He played the field, and women flocked to him like bees to honey where ever he went, but he refused to get hooked with somebody for too long. He met plenty of expatriates from the States doing mostly the same thing as he did. He enjoyed the nightlife in Paris and Monaco tremendously. He found life at the Riviera to his liking with the more intellectual attractions a city had to offer.

In the first half of the 20th century, the Riviera was visited frequently by writers and artists, including Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Pablo Picasso. While Europe was still recovering from WWI and the American dollar was strong, wealthy Americans started arriving. Edith Wharton wrote The Age of Innocence at a villa near Hyeres, winning the Pulitzer Prize, the first woman to do so. F. Scott Fitzgerald first visited with his wife, Zelda, in 1924 and eventually stayed at Saint-Raphael, where he wrote much of The Great Gatsby and began writing Tender is the Night.

Spencer loved Italy with all the arts, the museums, and the opera, which he enjoyed tremendously. He went beyond Europe to Istanbul. He enjoyed and admired the exotic atmosphere of the place. He spent a couple of weeks in India and visited the Taj Mahal. After his trip to India, he went back to Europe and stayed a month in the south of France, then on to England again, where he wandered in the countryside and fell in love with it.

While touring the Continent for a year, he discovered he liked England the best. The English countryside reminded him of home with its sloping vistas and grand houses with fabulous gardens. The City of London was a vibrant place, and he enjoyed the social scene there and loved hobnobbing with the elites of London society. He was in a constant whirlwind of social events, which made him stay. He decided to settle in England and rented a house in London where the social scene was more to his taste and within a driving distance to the countryside where he was welcome as a house guest in some of England’s great houses.

Now that his grandfather was gone, will the money still be deposited in his bank account? He was certain his father would make sure the money would be there. What if he was wrong? What would happen to him abroad? He could not continue his leisure life, hopping from club to club without the money from his grandfather. It was his means to luxurious living. The thought of not having enough money made him so depressed. Maybe that was the reason. Maybe the money would stop. He never thought of that before. He suddenly felt vulnerable and homesick. Maybe it was time for him to go home. He had been away for too long. Three years seemed like a lifetime. He had lived in England for two years of his three-year stay abroad. He contemplated living in England for the rest of his life, but of course, life was unpredictable and constantly changing.

It was unexpected that he was summoned to return home as soon as possible, leaving him no choice. At first, he did not think he wanted to go, but after some thought, he decided it was best to go home and find out what the telegram was all about. He suddenly realized that he was getting old and it was time to settle down. There were more things in life than the pursuit of empty pleasure. He had sown his wild oats. Enough of that already.

Time to get serious. Yes, he wanted to go home more than he realized. Once he made up his mind, he went back to bed and finally fell asleep.

The next morning Spencer woke up with the sun shining brightly. He got up and walked to the window. People were up and about, and he saw some people already strolling towards Hyde Park. He could smell the spring air. Spring blossoms were appearing everywhere.

He turned around and aimed for the bathroom. He saw Mr. Granger had already drawn the water for his bath. He undressed and dropped his nightclothes on the tiled floor. He dipped his toes in the warm water and sank into the tub.

After his bath, he put on his morning clothes, which Mr. Granger had laid out in his dressing room, and then he headed hurriedly downstairs.

“Good morning, Granger,” he greeted his butler, a man in his fifties, always appropriately attired in his butler’s uniform and took pride in his job as Spencer’s butler and valet at the same time. He loved his position, and he was devoted to Spencer, who he found to be a very pleasant employer who treated him very well.

“Good morning, sir. Did you see the telegram I left on the silver tray at the hall last night?” Mr. Granger asked.

“Yes, I did. Thank you,” Spencer said as he walked past Mr. Granger, who held the door to the dining room open.

The dining room was a gracious room painted a very pale yellow and was bright with light coming from the morning sun through the open window facing east. On one wall stood a Georgian sideboard with a pair of silver candelabra on both sides of a porcelain Famille rose punch bowl. Flanking the sideboard was a pair of armchairs in the Jacobean style. At the other end of the dining room was a marble fireplace with a roaring fire giving warmth to the room. Above the Hepplewhite dining table with ten chairs in Queen Ann’s style hung a crystal chandelier with a golden wire chain. A couple of hunting scene pictures graced the wall above the sideboard and the fireplace. The table was set for one person.

Mr. Granger had Spencer’s breakfast of buttered toast, marmalade, eggs, bacon, ham, and kippers ready on the table. Spencer sat on the chair, flipped his napkin, placed it on his lap, and started to eat.

He turned to Mr. Granger and said, “I have to send a telegram today and also see if I can book a passage to New York right away.”

Mr. Granger’s eyebrows shot up. After the initial shock, he asked, “You’re leaving, sir?”

“I’m afraid so. I have to,” Spencer said and continued eating.

“Does it have anything to do with the telegram?” Mr. Granger asked, suspecting it had something to do with it.

“Yes. Our family lawyer wants me home. It says ‘Urgent ’.”

“Urgent? Did it say why?” Mr. Granger was curious to know.

“No. No explanation. Anyway, I have decided it’s time to go back. I hope I can get a passage on the RMS Olympic. I love that ship. It’s the same ship I sailed coming over three years ago.” Spencer picked the last piece of bacon from his plate and chewed it.

“I heard it is like the Titanic,” Mr. Granger said solemnly.

“It is, but better and safer. The company put in so many improvements after the Titanic sank to improve safety. The number of lifeboats was increased from twenty to sixty-four, and extra davits were installed along the boat deck to accommodate them,” Spencer said.

“It’s terrible there were not enough lifeboats on the Titanic.”

Spencer nodded. “I agree. They learned a big lesson from the disaster. An inner watertight skin was also constructed in the boiler and engine rooms to create a double hull. Five of the watertight bulkheads were extended up to B-deck, extending to the entire height of the hull. I understand improvements were also made to the ship’s pumping apparatus.”

“That’s nice to know. It makes one feel at ease and worry free.”

“Exactly. The ship also has plenty of amenities that I enjoyed. The first-class section has a Georgian-style smoking room, a Veranda Café decorated with palm trees, a swimming pool, a Turkish bath, a gymnasium, and several other places for meals and entertainment. It has the most luxurious accommodation among the ocean liners. It’s a home away from home. Maybe even better.”

“That’s wonderful,” Mr. Granger said.

“I understand even the second-class facilities include a smoking room, a library, a spacious dining room, and an elevator. The third-class passengers even have reasonable accommodation compared to other ships. Instead of large dormitories offered by most ships, the third-class passengers of the Olympic travel in cabins containing two to ten bunks. Facilities for the third class also included a smoking room, a common area, and a dining room.”

“That sounds terrific.”

“Yes, it is,” Spencer said as he picked up his cup and drank his coffee.

Seeing Spencer almost finished with his breakfast, Mr. Granger asked hesitantly, “What are you going to do with the house?” He was afraid he would lose his job. He liked his employer, a fine young man, kind and generous.

“I have not made up my mind just yet. I would most likely break off the lease. I don’t know if I am coming back. Not for a long time anyway,” Spencer said and took another sip of his coffee.

Mr. Granger looked down, not knowing what to say. He felt depressed. He knew at this time in his life, it would be difficult for him to find a job, much less a good employer like Spencer Wentworth. It did not escape Spencer’s attention. Spencer realized his butler was worried about losing his job.

Mr. Granger and his wife, the cook, had been in service at his house for two years since he leased his home and were conscientious employees, and Spencer liked them. They were highly recommended by a friend who worked at the U.S. Embassy who knew Spencer’s father back in the States. Mr. Granger and his wife used to work for a young American couple who was recalled back to the States. At their first interview, Spencer took a liking to Mr. Granger, who seemed very pleasant but knew his place in the house hierarchy. Spencer hired him immediately, and the Grangers took good care of him, and he appreciated their loyalty and service.

“Granger, if you are worried about your position, I will try to find you and your wife a job with my circle of friends when I leave for the States. You should not worry about that. I will give you an excellent reference,” Spencer said.

“Thank you, sir. That is very kind of you. I do appreciate it very much.”

“You’re welcome.”

Mr. Granger beamed broadly. He noticed Spencer had finished his breakfast. He came closer to the table, cleared Spencer’s plate, and gave him the morning paper. He stepped back and left the room.

Spencer picked up the morning paper, glanced at the headline, and stood up. He headed to his study and drafted a letter to his solicitor in London, then left it on the silver tray on the hallway for Mr. Granger to have it delivered before he went out to answer Prescott’s telegram and book his passage to New York.

The Wentworth Legacy is available for purchase at Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.

Mort Künstler’s exhibition at The Hecksher Museum of Art

Mort Kunstler is best known for his incomparable paintings of Civil War events. However, he earned his stripes as an illustrator for pulp fiction magazines with his illustrations for men’s pulp adventure magazines published in the 50s, 60s and 70s. For the first time, more than 80 of Mort Künstler’s remarkable original artworks, some shown in magazines and books but many of them never published before, are exhibited together in The Hecksher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington, NY. The exhibition titled “Mort Künstler: The Godfather of Pulp Fiction Illustrators” are now on view until Nov. 17, 2019.

To see and hear more about the exhibition in Mort Künstler’s own words, click here for the YouTube video preview

Mort Kunstler Video.png

 

A press release from his office says:

Long before blockbuster superhero movies, those looking for an adrenaline rush turned to adventure magazines featuring exciting stories and thrilling illustrations. As the go-to-artist and illustrator, Mort Künstler’s work graced hundreds of magazine covers, stories, and books, firmly establishing his prominence in the pulp fiction genre.

Originally featured in magazines such as Stag, Male, and For Men Only in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, the illustrations brought to life headlines that screamed adventure. The images of men in combat, women in distress, and nature threatening man immediately caught the reader’s attention. “You try to pick a moment that will entice the reader and catch their attention and make them want to read the whole text,” explains Künstler. “The whole goal is to make them stop and go, ‘what’s going on here?'”

 

Mort Kunstler 2

Jet-Sled Raid on Russia’s Ice Cap Pleasure Stockade

Kunstler was so good, that there were instances when his carefully detailed illustrations actually inspired a story, rather than the other way around. During his long career, Kunstler illustrated stories for many authors, including Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather, who wrote in the same magazines under the pen name of Mario Cleri. Kunstler illustrated Puzo’s The Godfather long before the movie franchise. His vision came amazingly close to how the characters eventually appeared in the movies. 

Mort Kunstler 3

The word Künstler means artist in German. His father kept the original spelling, with the umlaut over the u. His father was an amateur artist himself and at the age of 2 ½, his parents knew Mort was an artist. By age 12, he was painting murals at his grade school PS 215 in Brooklyn. After high school, his main focus was not art. He was a good athlete and sport dominated his life at Brooklyn College. He played basketball, football, a diver on the swimming team and hurdler on the track team. After three years at Brooklyn college, he transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles on basketball scholarship. But came back home after one semester because his father got sick. Mort went on to attend Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He graduated from Pratt after seven years of college with a Certificate in Illustration but never earned a college degree. Between commissioned painting, movie posters, magazine and book covers, Mort has never been out of work. Now at the age of 92 he is still painting.

Mort works in oils, but his favorite medium for illustrating is Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache. Back in the 60s and 70s, Mort was averaging 3 magazine covers a month, along with other illustrations that went inside each magazine. Mort also illustrated for Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, Readers Digest, National Geographic, and Mad magazine. Mort also did movie posters for The Poseidon Adventure and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. His career spans over 70 years with about 5,000 paintings to his credit.

The Heckscher Museum is producing a catalogue to accompany Mort Künstler: “The Godfather” of Pulp Fiction Illustrators, and publication of a companion book on Mort’s men’s adventure art will be released during the exhibit. A traveling exhibition is being organized as well. Artist appearances and signings to be announced.

Since I’m out of town and cannot possibly go see the exhibition, I purchased the companion book which arrived the other day. What a wonderful book with pages of bright photos in vibrant colors!

For more information, visit The Hecksher Museum of Art website or Contact Kunstler Enterprises, Ltd., 800-850-1776, email at info@mortkunstler.com, or visit their website: www.mkunstler.com.

 

 

A Cannon from the Civil War ship USS R.R. Cuyler in Oyster Bay

Cannon from RR Culyer

Photo Credit – ldoysterbay.com

At Derby-Hall Bandstand in Townsend Park in Oyster Bay, there are three cannons. One of them situated at the foot of the stairs of Derby-Hall Bandstand is a circa 1861 Civil War trophy gun from the ship USS R.R. Cuyler.

On June 26, 1903, in front of the Town Clerk’s office on Audrey Avenue, President Theodore Roosevelt unveiled a Civil War parrot gun from the cruiser USS R.R. Culyer. It is a 30-pound Parrott rifle and weighs 3,510 lb.

The gun was originally given by the Navy to the Oyster Bay High School to be placed in front of the school. The school was then on the corner of Weeks Avenue and Anstice Street, but the Board of Education felt that the gun would be more appropriate in front of the Town Clerk’s office. The Town Board and the Navy both agreed with the change. The gun is still in Oyster Bay but now faces to the north in Townsend Park, a few yards away from the Town Clerk’s office.

Roosevelt’s participation in the ceremonies had been very hastily arranged at the last minute to coincide with his planned arrival in Oyster Bay, and the President was reported to have made only the briefest of remarks before he left with Mrs. Roosevelt for Sagamore Hill.

The Cuyler was a 1202-ton screw sail cruiser and had been launched in 1861 in anticipation of the upcoming hostilities. She carried several guns of the type represented here in Oyster Bay, and she was among the fastest ships in the navy.

At the outbreak of the war, the Confederate Army was planning the capture of the Naval Academy at Annapolis and one of the treasured relics of the Navy, the USS Constitution. Admiral Robley Evans, who was the commander of the Atlantic Fleet at the time Roosevelt dedicated the gun, was then a young cadet at the Naval Academy in 1861. Evans recalled in later years how federal troops from the 1st Rhode Island, the 8th Massachusetts and the 7th New York were brought in to defend the Academy from the attacks by the Confederate from Baltimore. The Commandant of Midshipmen, Christopher Raymond Rodgers suggested to the War Department that the academy be moved along with the treasured “Old Ironsides”. Robley Evans and several other midshipmen climbed into small boats and made their way to the Constitution to begin the journey. The Constitution was towed all the way from Annapolis to Newport, Rhode Island by the Cuyler. The Constitution and the Naval Academy remained at Newport for the duration of the conflict.

Source: Oyster Bay Remembered by John E. Hammond

Early History of an Unspoiled Island Sheltered by Islands

Shelter Island Image

Shelter Island is a town and an island in Suffolk County at the eastern end of Long Island, NY between the North Fork and the South Fork. Shelter Island is around 8,000 acres. Vast tracts , nearly one-third of the island, are protected wetlands, a nature preserve marshland. In 1980, The Nature Conservancy purchased the Mashomack Peninsula’s 2039 acres as open space to be preserved in a wild state. The Mashomack Preserve, as it is called now, has four nature and bird-watching trails. Shelter Island has great beaches, golf courses, marinas and homes ranging from modest cottages to the grandest of mansions. There is a renovated manor house, scene of social events in the summer, and a variety of environmental programs for adults and children.

At the time of European encounter, it was occupied by the Manhanset tribe, an Algonquian-speaking people related to the Pequot and other Algonquians of New England. The original name of the island, used by the Manhanset Indians, is Manhansack-aha-quash-awamock, which literally translates to “Island sheltered by islands.”

Its recorded history dates back to the 17th century and the Caribbean sugar trade. Shelter Island was included in the original Plymouth Company land grant made by James I of England in 1620. On April 22, 1636, Charles I of England who was told that the colony had not made any settlements yet on Long Island, gave the island to William Alexander, 1st Earl of Stirling. The grant gave Alexander all of Long Island and adjacent islands. Alexander gave James Farret power to act as his agent and attorney in colonizing Long Island. In reward Farret was allowed to choose 12,000 acres for his personal use. Farret chose Shelter Island and Robin’s Island for his use. Farret in turn sold the islands to Stephen Goodyear, one of the founders of the New Haven Colony.

In 1651 Goodyear sold the island to a group of Barbados sugar merchants for 1,600 pounds of sugar. Nathaniel Sylvester (1610–1680), one of the merchants, was the island’s first white settler. He was among a number of English merchants who had lived and worked in Rotterdam (where he was born) before going to Barbados. On March 23, 1652, he made the purchase official by signing an agreement with Youghco (called Pogatticut), the sachem of the Manhanset tribe.

Nathaniel Sylvester, a young sugar merchant, married 16-year old Grissell Brinley in England in 1652 and sailed for America. Their marriage would start with a shipwreck off Connecticut on their honeymoon trip, where they stopped first before heading to Barbados to visit family there, then headed for Newport, R.I. to prepare for their move to Shelter Island.

After their arrival on the island in March 1652, Sylvester constructed a house for his bride, Grissell Brinley from London. The Sylvester estate was developed as a large provisioning plantation. It raised food crops, as well as livestock for slaughter, sending casks of preserved meats and other supplies to Barbados. They used the island’s white oak to make sugar barrels used in trade with Barbados. Labor was provided by a multicultural force of American Indians, enslaved Africans and English indentured servants. Sylvester and his associates were part of the Triangle Trade between the American colonies (including the Caribbean), Africa and England. His descendants continued to use slaves on the plantation into the 19th century. An estimated 200 blacks are buried at the Negro Burying Ground on the North Peninsula.

Nathaniel’s brother Constant, and two other sugar merchants, Thomas Middleton and Thomas Rouse, were co-founders but didn’t live on the island, and in 1673 Nathaniel became the sole owner. He also claimed ownership of Fishers Island and other parts of Long Island. By that time, the Manhansett tribe had declined in number and power.

As early eastern Suffolk pioneers, the Sylvesters prospered on their remote island, had 11 children, and gave shelter to many persecuted New England Quakers at a time when it was dangerous to do so. Their brave defense of religious freedom won the reverence of later generations in this country and in Great Britain.

Sylvester died in 1680, leaving the island equally to his five sons. In 1695 the family sold one-quarter of the island to William Nicoll, who controlled 90,000 acres of Islip via royal patent. Five years later, in 1700, 1000 acres of the 8,000-acre island were sold to George Havens of Newport, whose family was to become deeply entwined in the government and civic affairs of the island for more than two centuries.

Sylvester Manor stands today, just off New York State Route 114, and is controlled by Sylvester descendants. Over time these estates and parcels were split and divided by marriage and purchase. All but about 24 acres of the original thousands of acres have gone into other hands. The house that Nathaniel Sylvester built in 1652 was torn down and replaced a few feet away in 1733 by a Sylvester grandson who built a more elaborate manor house.

By the early 18th century, 20 farm families lived on Shelter Island. The Town of Shelter Island was established in 1730 by order of the Provincial Government. William Nicoll II was the first supervisor.

The community developed from there.

 

Sources:

Newsday Home Town Long Island

New York Times