There are so many things to remember from this trip: the friends who joined us, the mansions, the lobsters, and--most of all--the polo match (the reason FOR the trip). But, I think we will have a special memory of how we all giggled together as we crashed Mrs. Astor's summer "cottage", Beechwood.
The Countess, du Barry, Bennett, Brian, and yours truly were tooling down Bellevue Avenue early Friday morning when du Barry said, "Turn left, and let me do the talking". Two men in black suits stepped out in front of the car and one approached the window; du Barry said one word and they stepped back with a slight bow and up the drive we went. (If I told you the code word, I'd have to kill you.)
Beechwood was built decades before the other mansions and almost has a homey charm to it ( if homey charm includes a ballroom which can fit The 400.) The Countess can reveal a bit of the wondrous charm this weekend held for us, here.
du Barry has been in Mrs. Astor's ballroom many, many times, but the rest of us felt like school children--very, special school children--for being allowed to run around the famous ballroom. One hundred and ten years ago, this room would have held the 400 people Mrs. Astor deemed "suitable".
Originally, Mrs. Astor's two, stone dogs looking out to sea must have been appalled by Alva Vanderbilt's Chinese Teahouse next door, but by that time the Astors and Vanderbilts had reconciled with each other. Indeed, when Alva sued her husband William K. Vanderbilt for divorce on grounds of adultery and refused to stop ("Just because I am a woman, I will not fade into the background like some little mouse..."), and New York society initially shunned her out of fear of the other Vanderbilts, it was Caroline Astor who stepped forward and continually invited Alva's daughter, Consuelo, to her home so she wouldn't suffer, too. Powerful women stick together in the end.