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Title: Interview with Alfred Barton (May 12, 1967)
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 Material Information
Title: Interview with Alfred Barton (May 12, 1967)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: May 12, 1967
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: 12025
Miami-Dade County (Fla.) -- History.
 Notes
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00006421
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Dade County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: DADE 22

Table of Contents
    Copyright
        Copyright
    Interview
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
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RED
22 5-12-67
ALFRED BARTON -1st INTERVIEW


B: Because I think things are little more interesting in a later period.



I: Now, I'm in what you say because I want to relate.


I just want to think that the things that happened on the beach were so


comply etely discontinuing and I do want to relate what happened to people

with
over the years the original type of thing because I believe


B: the growth of the beach is very gradual and you must remember that when


Mr. Collins first built this bridge, there were no houses here at all.


The only thing that was here was a sort of plantation of, I think, it

that was which
was avocado.growing was up to what is now the ville

to shoot
and I remember going up there because I went up one night

alligators
on a boat. We went to the with a light on the front of the boat


and stopped the alligators and shot there heads off.


I: In Indian creek?


B: In Indian Creek, yes.


I: They were crocodiles, were they not?


B: They might have been crocodiles. I'm pretty sure they were alligators.


I: ha!ha!


B: Well, anyway, this, then I did in a boat at this plantation


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B: I remember a young man and woman who were in charge there and they

as far as
were the only inhabitants on the island ^I know with the exception


of the little beach way down at the south end. Then, of course, after


Mr. Collins built his famous bridge, the first property


developed was Iwards the south and went ihto the causeway.


I: development there, south beach.


B: South Beach. Yes. developed first and then, the causeway developed


and, then, of course, the Lumbertons came into the picture and you

Lumis
iow, Mr. Lumbers gave that wonderful talk now so impzotant to him.


and that was develop ed- The first part, and then, the big houses

you would houses
That's what call the nice element of only came with the


development of Mr. Carl Fisher, and his principle is, of course,


as Mr. Fish has undoubtedly explained to you was to build the


first golf course in the hotel and then, sell the land around it.


and ofcourse, he started first with Lincoln Road and he built a


hotel on Lincoln Road and the first original golf course was his


municipal golf course down here where the high school had it.

Road the Hotel,
I: The lincoln was at Lincoln wasn't it?


B: The Lincoln Hotel. Yes.

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as I understand it,
I: He^tried to duplicate rather what happened to Palm Beach. In other


words if the people had first come to Palm Beach and they stayed in


the hotel and they played golf and they lived there and then, they


got home, ad that is what Fisher tried to A.

came after that,
B: Yes. Then.from the Flamingo, which was down along the Bay Front.

built-
I: That was^open in 1920, I think.


B: Yeah.
B:
I: Well, now, what about the first Oak Grove, the houses Naturally,

very
Fisher built a good hou se himself. A beautiful home.


In fact, it had pipe organs which

just
Jay use to love to pump, and this.had rolls, ad opposite that


was a house owned by some people named Hannan. They made the Hannan


Shoes.

B:
I: I'm sure, and then, bey'-nd that were three or more houses.


I haven't te slightest idea now who occupied them, but they are very

when
attractive houses, and there were along the ocean front. We built our


house in 1924 possibly ten or twelve houses, in that area and I don't


think more. Then, there were some built on the west side as


but that was the beginning of the first area,see, whidh was


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B: social. Now, the Fishers, of course, entertained always for business


purposes and as people would come down from the west, Carl knew, He


would take them out in his boat, and he would entertain them at the house.

and so forth,
informally, small dinners and cocktail parties^and this wasmnstly for


business purposes, of course.


I: He was not a social person in any sense.


B: Not in any sense a social person.


I: In the sense that we speak of the social life.


B: No, not at all.


I: What was your impression of him? of Mr. Fischer?


B: I liked him very much. He was a very human, a very genuine person.

had been a
He wasn't awfully well educated, you know. He bicycle repairman.

the
and he swore terrifically and he had very little regard for^humanity


of a situation, but he was extremely genuine, and after I suppose you know

down
that the way he lost all the properties around here was desire to build
Montroff.
I: in building Montroff.


B: And in building Montroff, he suddenly found himself


an extra two billion. I'm not quite certain now, and he got the money


from Mr. Lindsey Hopkins of Atlanta.


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B: Mr. Lindsey Hopkins loaned him the money and took in return a


mortgage on everything that Carl had from Miami Beach which included


all the hotels, all the unoccupied lots. Everything was young. That


mortgage, unfortunately had to be foreclosed and they did not get this


out of transquilicy until about I think 1937 or '38 and finally it was


all owned by the Hopkins properties. Mr. and Mrs. Lindsey having died


meanwhile and his son and daughter having inherited this as well as his


and they asked me at that time in 1938 if I would go up


to Montroff as sort of general manager and see if I could pull the thing


together.


I: Oh, I didn't know that you had a connection. Well, that


is interesting.

in
B: So I spent that one summer Montroff and I was presumably in charge


of the hotel, the golf club, the ya'ht club and what was called the surf


club, which was the bathing beach and we did everything we could to make
and change the whole thing over,
it social, tdbring people there and I had to redecorate a great deal but


it was pretty tough because in those days there wasn't a great deal of


money flying around and you could buy almost any house you wanted in


South Hampton with very little and South Hampton itself wasn't doing


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R: too well, However, we had a very amusing and I had a very amusing


and interesting season there. Anything, you're prepared to get


to Mr. Fisher was the purpose of my telling you this. After I returned,

He said, "Albert,
Carl sent word. I wish you would come down and see me. Now, Carl

which had
wa. then living in a small house the Lindsey Hopkins estate


given him and I believe, that they gave him something like $15,000


a year to live on. He had absolutely nothing and he had this old colored

retainer
retainer who was very faithful and lived with him.
descendor

I:


3: Now, at that time he was


He had some sort of heart stemming. I don't


know what they were.to drain him and he was really dying and he was there


living in what certainly not luxury with the colored man looking after him.


But he had absolutely no in Montroff, but he was so keen about


it and so interested in knowing what I was doing there and what was happening


and visualizing the future and he said, "Now, Albert, you must go back


and you must do this and you must do that, and you must do the ings exactly


as if still owned it, and I had a great affection for this man.


He was Well, you have to know him. He was a very genuine person. He


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RED 22

you know.
B: He was a very knd person. Very kind. Generou s, too, His settlement

was


I: Indeed. Indeed.


He... I wanted to Do you remember what season you spent at Montr;ff?


What year was that?


P: About '3>.


I: '38. Yes.


B: It wasthe year of the hurricane.


B: Fisher died in '39. Just when we closed the hotel, the day after we closed


the hotel, the hurricane hit us. I was so up set.
I:
B:
I: That was the most star crossed place that Montroff.
Fisher wqs. He was tremendously as a person
B: Yes. Yes.

very
I: I came from the midwest and he's a.midwestern kind of figure.


B: Oh, ye s, completely.


I: He swore greatly, but I gather he didn't use any hells, and dams.


B: Yes. Well, the perfect story about it is that out at Montroff. Of course,


he wasn't religious at all, but they came to him and said, "You kiow, you


we have a better church here and we'd like to have a church so he said, "


I'll build you the best God dam church there is, and he did.


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RED 22


T: to tell that story about the one here on


Lincoln Road, but I don't know.


B: He was very conscious of the fact that people wanted to go to church and


he aid.


I:

to me by
B: His story was quite accurate because it wqs told ^the old Montroff


people up there.


I: Did he? I gather he didn't use much kind of sanctuary.


B: No, not at all, no.


I: That kind of thing?


B: He was a married man.


I: Yes. Very much.


B: He had a great admiration for John R. O' Dull. You see, John R


Gaws was connected with the National Geographical Society and was a

he thought
gentleman and somehow Carl had a great admiration for people who


that education and station in life were above him of this sort.

d
And that accounts a great deal for their friendship and for the fact that


a good will power drive and all that.


I: Someone told me and


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RED 22


I: that he was the biggest stuffed shirt in the world. You don't have


to comment on that.


B: Well, I would like to comment on that because I knew him very well indeed.


He was a member of the board here for twenty years and a great personal


friend of mine. In fact, he was awfully tight. He never spent a dime.


And he was a very nice man. I never found him to be brilliant so and

in fact
if he was it was hidden somewhere beyond me becauseI never thought

you see.
about the subject tradition ally, I was extremely fond of his wife who


I think was I think made a wonderful wife and was very forebearing. She


had a great trouble with him and was like a kid She said he was


a very old man. She sensibly married a charming doctor and


in fact, she was very happy and Jack was always looked up to as people


who are successful are by business men. A businessman only admire other

chairman
business men who happens to be the successful member of the board and who


has just made another twenty million dollars or so.and Jack in his own way

somehow
National Geographicseems to stun other people it


and Jack was always very popular. He was chairman of the board of the


committee of One Hundred here for many, many years and he was really a


very genial, a very nice man. I can't say about him. He was perhaps


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RED 22


B: a little stuffy, but that was the period, too, perhaps.
I: WEll,
I: I don't know.


B: was a little stuffy, too.


I: Still is. People who still have some connections there.


B: Yeah, but I liked Jack and he was very genial and very fine.


I: You came in '24. Wasn't the Bath Club founded in '25?

B: I might say that
B: Jack was not like Carl. He was much more social. He got around with


the girls a great deal more. than Carl did.

there again
I: Carl has this good reputation ^if there's


This one has the reputation of being a great ladies man.


He had a number of women A number of them seemed to h-ve been secretaries.


B: Yes.


I: Like I doubt that he was fairly discrete about it.


B: Well, you know, one really knows about those things. Every one person


gets talked about and sometimes it's highly exaggerated. I really don't


think that under the program that I ought to go into that too much.


Like I said, we could


I: Some people


B: We're still talking about the differentiation in periods because


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RED 22

very,
B: right up to 1917 it was considered that this was a very,small community.


I: This was almost a fishing vi-.lage then.

B:It was almost
B: A fishing village and that everything closed up.after the Royal Palm closed.
and
and at that time I suppose the House Hall was built by then, but it it was,

also
it closed. Everything closed except one or two small hotels.

a
I: Was the House and Hall on par with the
I: Well, I thought so.
B: Oh, nol The House and Hall was very second rate., I say second rate in the


sense that opposed to Royal Palm.

B: Especially second rate.
I: Espedally secondrate although.^I:All right, then, you


B: Then, this was a period in which of course, Mr. Dear was building this


great house.


I: Yeah.


B: And during pay roll. I think during the period of 1914 and '15


in the summertime really was kind of large


I: Also. Also. Must have.


I: Then, when you return here,

I: in '24
B: When I returned here,^I turned back. I came back. I was sent back

a message to wish
withGeneral Pershing which General Howard did not to have delivered


except verbally. I mean the matter in 1920 and I then, stayed


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RED 22


B: down a steady week here with my two aunts who were then living


and this was the period that they were just having the first sale of


Carl David.


I:


B: And I went out I remember to the first auction sale that they had out there.


I: So you saw Doc Dammer.


B: I saw Doc Dammer and the whole crowd out there, and remind me to tell you the


story. The story about Mr. Barrington and


I: Well, tell it now. That's unless

an awful
B: Well, we're jumping around ..lot, but anyway to get back to period. In 1920,


I was back in the third period and this was the period when Miami was coming


to life at the cities and Miami Beach was just beginning to take form and


then we came back here in 1924. Let's see was it 1924? Yes, in the fall of

it was then
1924. We were determined to build a house and that we started


looking for property and the ocean front was just being developed. That is


around by what was then the Firestone, aid it seemed much too far north

to my knowledge and so we settled in what then already an established


district which we always hoped would be kept as a nice place to live.


I:

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RED 22


B: you see, but it was not very carefully drawn unfortunately.


I: It was eighteenth street, I believe it was.


B: Eighteenth.


I: Eighteenth and Cullum.


B: Eighteenth and Cullum.


I: And you were on the ocean side?


B: We were on the west side, but we wanted more land so it's no party line


so at that time we came back and after looking around we decided that we

object
would take this property and then the architect came down and looked at it


and drew the plan for the house, and it was completed in 1924, and I quickly


moved into it the following Novembor of 1924.


I: It took about a year to build?


B: No, it took probably from May or April until November.

Now, I have a question:
I: Well,^how were they able to set upthese really luxurious houses?


in such short time?


B: Well, I say it took six months certainly. Several houses took six months.


I: Yeah.


B: You can still build a house in six months.





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RED 22


I: Well, I know, but not with the scenery and all. They must have had a lot


of trim work and wood work.


B: There was a tremendous amount of plaster work which was done by a very



brilliant man down here. For instance, the Louis V music room had the


most elaborate kind of work which you couldn't possibly afford to pay for


in the North. Panels of all sorts. Very Borroco and then there are all sorts


of stone, flat stone statues that went in with the Gothic part of it all

which
around the house and Venetian windows and all that sort of thing was


very elaborate.


I: How about the finish woodwork a.d

only
B: As an example, I that that house the original house^cost something like

forty
thousand dollars.

I: Oh, really?


B: Today would have been two hundredd thousand.


I: How much did the land cost?


B: The land cost, I think, twenty-two thousand dollars.


I: So it's a total of sixty-two thousand.


B: Something like that. Yes. Well, after that, the hurricane came in 1926

after
and that did considerable damage to the house and that we erected


) 4










RED 22


B: a high wall around it. I'll show you some pictures of it to give


you an idea.

damage
I: Was it the second hurricane.done in so many of the homes here that so


many homes here had a high wall around them or what?


B: Oh, I think that it was just because they liked privacy* I've always


liked privacy, has some protection.


and this is very high walls and gates would close and later on


actually composed all kinds because other people would just wander in


from surrounding hotels.


I: Yeah.


B: Actually, you think my mother and I were the last people to live on Collins


Avenue south of what was then the Firestone Estates. That is the


I: How long ?


B: In a private house. We stayed in the house in November 1941. Just before





I: Then, you were.. B: And at that time, there was not a single person residing


in a private house. Everything was either hotels or apartments or building


houses.


B: Well, let's pick that up as far as complexes.

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RED 22


I: Well, let's pick that up. That would make it seem more chronologically.

back
B: Well, now, you know, we areafter the war, and


I: YOu built your house.

the start
B: Yes. The house was built and this was of a different


type of social entertainment. I fixed of early


days of Miami. If there was any large serving in Miami, it was done at the


Royal Palm. I remember my mother giving a


were very popular in those days. Giving a large tea glass. in the


grounds of the Royal Palm. They had a sort of set up and all that.


but I don't think anybody entertained any large parties and usually

ladies
they bridge luncheon. They have to have twenty in or twenty-four


whatever it is. to play bridge, or they also, played five hundred in those days.
game.
which was a very popular, bridge party bridge
And if they had a bit of coffee, it was a very smallparty because


people didn't like to play bridge. Now, I'm not talking about the houses at


Coconut Grove. because the number


I: No.


B:








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RED 22


I: Well, let's say the Well, let me ask the question differently.


I had sort of decided on the basis of my conversation, that if there


wasn't a populosous of the first period at Miami Beach, it was probably the


year 1925. '25 and '26. This was the year when


B: Before the fall?


I: Just before the hurricane. It would have been the


B: Well, it was over so also the fall of values, you see, because nothing


was ever sold after the summer of 1926. That's when we all went broke.


I: That's right, but the wasn't it? Was not the height of the Miami Beach

in
scene the twenties and thenthat season? Was it December 1945?


B: Yes. Yes. January


B: Not officially, but actually, yeah.


I: But not


B: More people had money in 1925 and the summer of 1926 than any other time.


I know any number of people who have made and time cards


and that sort of thing and two years later who refuse to vote.

machine
I: If we first take a time and go back to 1925 or 1924 would you


describe .. I'm trying to picture what these people did with their day.


B: We're talking about the beach people.

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I: The beach. They are the society beach people. They walk down here for


two or three months. They came around probably shortly after Christmas


and


B: There were no clubs.


I: There were no clubs.

B: There were very few swimming pools. People got on the beach and bathed

the
and I think that Roman Pools were still perhaps the one place where

built
you would go. I think the Roman Plaza which was if I remember rightly



in 1926 ras fashionable for people to go and stay in, but it was not



very social, and I think the Roman pools still if you went anywhere that


that would be the place to go, but I think that most people strictly went


on the beach and sunned, but this is not a great occupation really, and


the races, you see, were very mediocre and hardly attended in the fall.


I would think that life was very quiet. I mean, people thought of it


like the Pole then. It's fairly tropical. It had the that


it constantly brought over and but as recollected, our

somewhere.
life in those days was a mostly going to dances in the evening, I mean

that period,
to a night club, which, of course, was very prevalent in and


there was a very good one.

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RED 22


B: They are going to somebody's house for dinner. In other words, public


entertaining was done mostly in night clubs.


I: Well, then, let's say typically what we're living on the beach in.
open type home.
B:
It's funny. I was trying to remember the other day what I did because


I was not working at that time except to get mixed up in real estate.


And I 'as from the building and I don't know.


In the morning, the butler brought up the tray and I had breakfast in



my room and dress. I haven't the slightest idea what I did.

weren't
I: I've been told that if there ^any pOols, the fashionable thing to do

at
was to go there.about eleven.
eleven.

correct.
B: Yes. That's Yes.


I: And then one might have lunch there.


B: You might have a little sandwich.or something or other.


I: And then, you return home for lunch. One returns home fr lunch and what


one did between lunch and tea time?


B: Well, I know quite often I would have people in and I would have a buffet


luncheon and we would go swimming at the beah, and have a buffet luncheon.


And then, they would play cards in the afternoon which I didn't do. If


1 9









RED 22


B: Sometimes I'd let them play cards or I'd go up and take a nap and


sometimes go out, but seldom cared to.

for
I: I'm told often that~people who like fishing and things.


B: I went to Palm Beach quite often to parties and I had people down fom Palm


Beach and picked them up. I can even remember friends calling up and saying



could you take care of an extra man coming down for dinner because you know,


we have pedestrians and I would even though I didn't even know the people.


quite personally. We had a lot of entertaining going on. Well, there was

private
a lot of pride in entertaining. People like the Germans entertained a great


deal and the Hollands entertained in town.


I: Yes.


B: Germans you know, were the present


and his family came from Boston. Newark. He was a very great entertainer.





I: That was the story that James Fisher told me about going to the


German Moore wedding.


B: Yes.


I: So they had to




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RED 22


B: Yes, on crooks, and she was one


I:

Ben Gilman
B: I'll never forget that discuss ion because then



was quite a decease. I shouldn't say this in public.


"I: Right. You're ta3lng about it being a vulgar period and yes,


Of course, it was a vulgar period and so ws the beginning of



a vulgar period.


B: Yes, of course, it was, and I think Palm Beach was, too, as far as that

just
went. There were a lot of people spending money. Theymade it. They

and
wanted to spend it and they didA They loved it. I think it still goes


on. I a very charming little woman from Canada who said to


me just the other day, "You know, I just love to spend money."


I: Well, who doesn't?


B: This is so I don't know I find it very amusing that people


are frank about these things that they are enjoying and for someone who is


just starting to discover all these things and doesn't know, it's very


interesting. Now, you see, I have a theory about the great entertainments


of today: in Miami Beach and in the last thirty years.


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RED 22


B: which is that you just remember that most of this money- this first



generation money that almost and I would hesitate to say about the percentage


Let's say eighty per cent of the people,at least,are that I know today made


their money in this generation. This was particularly true after the war.


After World War II, and I think that these women and remember, I


and I remember two couples very famous couples saying that they started to


Chicago. Their husbands each made seventeen dollars a week, and that



every Thursday night they would go out bowling. That was their big deal.


I: Yes.


B: For the week, you see. Well, my theory is that this


seventeen dollar a week deal that this was the great period of


As you know, this was called the in every newspaper of the world. Everybody

Mrs. Crisch
knew what was doing and Mrs. Oliver, Rose P. McDomman, the


Vanderbilt
I:
and Amy Vanderbilt who incidentally was a great friend of mine.


I:

ment
B: And still more all these favorites about great entertainers and great society.





22











RED 22


B: but they had two huncdd people for dinner. Now, all of a sudden, they


've got the money and so they want to have two hundred people for dinner.


and this is today why I think we've probably have larger private


entertainments that anywhere else in America.


I: You mean on Miami Beach?


B: Yes.


I: Do you mean specifically your club or just


B: No, I'm talking about the general area. It includes the Bath W. and


the U.C. Club and all that.


I: You mean.


B: I think unconsciously the desire to entertain anything lavishly and well


has been inbred by the fact that in the early days that if they didn't have


the money, they read about all these things and now they want to realize


this dream. It's just like the guy that always wanted to have a Rolls Royce


do finally he's got the money so he buys a Rolls Royce. It isn't because


he needs it; exactly, but that's an expensive car.


I: I agree with you completely. I'd like to just try to side on the truth.





23










RED 22


I: I think that what you say is absolutely right and I think that in their


own way if the people could come both winter and summer to places like


the Fountainbleu and the Eden Rock, are inclined to do the same thing.


B: Exactly.


I: In a different way.


B: It's absolutely true if they


do. I never believed this until the other day and I actually met a man


who does it.


I: Oh, yes. I think it's all.. I think that you can


B: It's all part of the plot, but I think there's more to it than that.



when we come to our people.


I: Now, let's turn because





SIDE TWO


B: Will you excuse me just a minute?


I: Yes.


B: Let's have a resume.

perhaps
I: You were talking about sending money and about how^even the Fountainbleu


people and the other

24










RED 22


B: Do you want to turn it on now?

I: Very much, very much.
B:
SWhat I was about to say was that I think that this was sort of a release


for lots of people who do not have an opportunity otherwise of accepting


himself socially. Especially, I can prove to you that ladies who lived

a
insmall town in Michigan and who I feel has great difficulty in having


somebody come in as a cleaning woman and I think has to do her

you see,
cooking. And absolutely no entertaining in this town. outside of four


people in to play bridge, so she buys her clothes in Chicago and comes

you see,
down here and gives very elaborate parties, and this is her great pleasure

where
because it is the only place ^she entertains. Now, this is sort

release
of a for her, you see. from having put up with living in a small

the rest of
town and a rather dreary circumstances.of the year.


I: Well, I think that I mean that what I before not to spend it


and show off


B: That's right.


I: I think, at least, that's what my .. I mean when I undertook to write this


book, I knew there was a story here but I didn't quite know what the theory


was. going to be, but that, of course, is the story


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RED 22


I:
B: Well, this is my theory on it after looking at this for a great many years.


I: Each successive wave of people it seems to me Please correct to me if I'm


wrong. does this very same thing in the way that they are able to.


B: You're quite right. Very few continue over a long period. I suppose that


I do over the longest period because starting in 1924, we entertained


particular thinner .at least twice a week all the time we lived in that


house and then, I've been entertaining here ever since, and now that was

waves
a good many years since 1924, but my theory is that talking about ways of


people, I think that this is good over a period of about ten years and then

s
a new group and I've seen so many people come up like classes in


Japan and then they and nobody wants to know


them and everybody wants to know who are those people, and then all of a


sudden, they give a big party and they announce that it's going to be


very fine and they are going to have a wonderful orchestra aid somebody


is going to sing and they invite all the people they don't know and


everybody comes.


I: Why!


B: Because people will never refuse a party,dear. They always accept. Everyone


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RED 22


B: else is at those parties, and they're just crazy about it so this is


outlet for them. I can't stand it anymore.


I:


B:


but everyone who is really very smart as a social climber


I: Yeah.


B: can make the grade here very easily. In the first place, if you are willing

on the committee.
to spend money on charities, you can always get


I: With everybody.


B: The biggest social climber we ever had was

herself
did a marvelous job of this thing of promoting ^even though


her husband is Jewish and it was difficult for her.


She was very amusing and very nice woman, but she's Jewish and entirely


by giving money to charities, and getting herself on committees, she's in


charge of and giving large parties and involving people whow I'M


afraid she didn't even know, but they always came because she would always


get somebody else to give the party with her. even in her own house


she'd say, Mrs. So and so and I are giving a dinner and this


you see. Now, I know people who sometimes issued invitations


27










RED 22


B: on their own name. People particularly even though they didn't know them


because they knew it was in a good club or that there was going to be

and they go.
a good party and some way the news gets around, Why they go, I don't know.


I: Do you think it's pure curiosity?


B: No, I think it's because they want some place to go. because in my opinion


most of my people live in Miami Beach do not have unlimited resources. I can't


tell you how many houses you can go to and never see a book or a picture.


I: I'm sure that is true. I'm laughing only because these are the things that


I had already in my mind had decided had been true. I suppose I'll be terribly
dangerous, but I think it's very true that How shall I say the spiritual quality of
the higher qualities of the people here are not very evident that


they exist

T; Yes. I'M sure that's true but Do you think that


B: I don't mean to be unkind


I: I don't think that they existed in Newport either.


B: Well, they didn't obviously.


I: I don't think that Mrs. Hamilton ever


B: Mrs. Fish was the most bright & vulgar woman that ever lived.


I: And uh..


B: As a matter of fact, Betsy Letter who was a and should


28










RED 22


B: have know better was one of the most vulgar women I ever knew.


I: She was the one who took part in the dinner wasn't she?although





B: That was just a quick Biscayne party.


but everyone was there. Oh, yeah.


I: Mrs. Fish used her house even a couple of occasions.


B:


I:


B: I think this varies, you understand. I think that the only thing that


makes Palm Beach seem a little better than Miami Beach s that these people

with They are very often.
with
are better educated more past, Not always -now. Very often not now


because I see some very vulgar, brazenly, outrageous people in Palm Beach


but I think that they have gotten better publicity. They


buy better pictures. They live in better houses and somehow they've managed


to get an air about them, which our people don't have, and I think that


that tatooed, you know You take some of the GF'S who come to
the GOP and kick around
you see.
they're not quite the same person, They come back and they have something


different about them.



I: Yeah. I suppose. I have a couple of

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RED 22


B: It's very difficult for me to say these things because I like other people


and I don't want to knock them, you know, publicly, I mean.


I: ha! As a matter of fact, I am more interested in anecdotes than I am


I't very much interested in anecdotes if I don't tell me the names of the


people because then I -can't with all good conscience use them,and so


can you. I mean, I know a lady whom I much rather sit back and than


some people


B: Yes. Yes.


I: I do want to ask about the founding of the Bath Club, and subsequently


the Club.


B: The first social meeting that we ever had was sponsored for the Club


that might be called a club of any sort was started by Mr. and Mrs.


Rollin DeWeese R-O-L-L-I-N.


I: DeWeese.


B: Capital D. E. Capital W-e-e-s-e.


I: I met a Captain DeWeese at Annapolis once.


B: The Rollins was a very good looking man, had a very attractive wife,

a very sweet wife
that is, his wife, and they were part of the set here, and he had a house


on Brooker Avenue on the west side of Brooker Avenue which they leased


30










RED 22


B: but they always came over and now in 1924 and they came over


for the Royal Palm. Not the Royal Palm. You know the one I mean.


the Fisher Casino.


I: The Roman Pool.


B: The Roman Pool. Everyday to swim, and decided that it would be nice


if some of us could all get together once a week and have a dinner dance.


So they made arrangements when we would take over the inside of the

whenever
dining room of the Roman Pool once a week or once every two weeks, it

but it was
was, and each paid our own way, ose, an invitation affair so possibly we

perhaps
may have had^fifty people down and not more than that. Fifty couples.


And this was the first attempt at any sort of club organization. It was

grew
and from that in 1928, I think, throughihe Bath Club.

I: Hu-i, hum.


B: And from that, in 1928, I think, through the Bath Club, and it was decided


to organize a club and buy some land and so forth. This was organized by


some new builders midwesterners and the names are very clear if you want to


check them. I don't think thatit is necessary.


I: No, it's all routine.


B: But in any case, the thing took on and I think they finally managed


31










RED 22


B: after some difficulty in getting one hundred people to each agree to


subscribe three thousand dollars for the building of this club. This


may have started in '27 because the club was open as I collect in the


fall of 1928. You'd have to check that, but I'm pretty sure.


I: Yeah.

which
B: And this was the first club ^was built. Now, there were three men


who really dominated this club.as the head of it, the president and the


chairman of the boardand two other men. Anyway, perhaps, the chairman


of the house committee and some other men. They were all what I call


rather ordinary people who had not had very much contact with the social


world before and they had Neither had their wifes and they, I'm
and very disagreeable
sorry to say, became extremely snobbish.from the very beginning.


This attracted because the fact of very attractive and very


I: It's a beautiful plot.


B:


I: Who designed it incidentally? I love those..

B: I'm sorry you didn't find out.
B: I really don't know. I don't remember. I dd once.
It attracted all the nice people in town so finally it got to a point where





32










RED 22


B: they thought that they had enough and they got awfully snotty


indeed, and they were very rude and very disagreeable. Two people, two


extremely nice people who wanted to get in here. I remember for instance,


a young lady whose.husband, Horatio, was presidential candidate


who was certainly very qualified in every way and one of the most important


people in America today, came one day to see my mother and cried because she

she had been so treated
said outrageouslytrue with the snob background


and this was treated by people far below them socially if you know what I mean.


I: Could that have been Mrs. Daw?


B: Mrs. who?


I: Mrs. Charles Daws?

it wasn't
B:No, ^Mrs. Charles Daws. It makes no difference.


I:


B: Why, certainly.











give a cocktail party somewhere else, you know, before you come to dinner




33










RED 22


I: Well, then, so that the

B: So this is
It became extremely successful, and it was very well run. I enjoyed doing it
very.much. It was delightful,,
and it was an awfully nice club, but


but they were very difficult. I can recollect when Mr. Barnswell. I was


the youngest member and when Mr. I guess the least important to them


because probably I had the least money of anybody there, and when Mr.


and his wife were visiting my niece, they expressed the


desire to the bath club and everybody refused to see them.


I: Democrat?


B: He was a Democrat, and I remember that they came to me afterwards and said

as the youngest member, and I did.
to me, Eunice said to me, lie was charming and so was his wife, but he


couldn't have been much then, and I think that it was finally arranged that

where I could take them, but nobody would receive them at all.




I: ha! ha!
It seems almost unbelievable that these people from the middle west


who really had nothing to boast about particularly





,: They were had never found Japanese society, were they not?


B: That's it.


34










RED 22


I: Japanese Society.


B: This is a very good case.


I: Well, that a wonderful thing.


B: This is true. She was awfully nice, too.


I: Before I there are one or two little questions


that that I'd like to ask


B: Yes.


I: Which W. K. Vanderbilt was it that bought Fisher's Island?


B: William Kane.


I: William Kane. He was then, the son of William Kissen who was the first


husband of outrageous.Alvin. Is that right?


B: Oh, yeah. Why don't you call Amelia Vanderbilt and ask him all those questions?
He'll tell you.

I: I don't know him. I don't know him.



B: Tell him I asked you to phone.


I: Where is he?


B: He's right here in front of his apartment.


I:


B: It's right next door.


35










RED 22


B: Actually, Mrs. Willie K. Vanderbilt's brother is





I: And this is Cornelius Vanderbilt? My problem is this. I am trying to




this
B: Cornelius Vanderbilt who had ., house who incidentally these are some

Some of his things
of his things here. He brought them to me.


I: I went over and talked to over there and he showed me through


the place. Have you seen the place? I mean recently?


B: Yeah.


I: It's like something out of Sunset Blvd.


B: Yes, I know it must be.

You know,
I: those houses there.
those


B: That he built. Is this turned off now?


I: No, it's not, but


B: He was married to a toa he had a lot Album


I: Well, you see the problem is WilliamTiffen Vanderbilt who was


B: I'm sorry my book on the Vanderbilts.. I was looking it up in


I was trying to remember something. There's a book called


36










RED 22


B: The Vanderbilt Legend, I think, and


I: Yeah.
anywhere,
B: it's quite and interesting book. I can't find it, and I have looked


everywhere and there are no books down in my office.


I: Well, I got this out and William Tiffen was one of was a Vanderbilt who

would have been
married about in the Indies and he married an Alva and Alva was



the one who had the fight with Mrs. Fish.


B: This is a book about his mother. Go on.


I: Alva was the one who had the fight with Mrs. Fish, I believe.


B: Yes. Well, this was Fish's son.


I: But this would have been his son, but then, the name of his father


Alva, the young Alva. Was that named after this


man?


B: Alva, I presume was named after



I: Two questions: Did Carl Fisher belong to the Bath Club or the Surf Club'


B: Neither, no. Carl Fisher was already built when they were formed, but


wasn't either.


I: Uh.


B: I have to take that back. I think that Carl Fisher was a member of this club.
37










RED 22


B: Different members. I'm pretty sure that he was a member here.


I: How about the Pine Coast family?




to
Now this tape or a duplicate of it can go the University, but it's kept


in the archives.


B: I've got nothing


I: I don't think you have either, but we have to dbthis for Mr. Neil


All right so that you an

amolyfy
B: I'd like to some of these things because I thing there's some


interesting things that you haven't got.


I: Oh, well, we discussed the purpose that we I'm to


























38





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