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Home: The Toast

“She made the butcher bring one piece of meat after another until she found one that looked tender enough to suit her.

‘It’s not for me, it’s for my dog,’ she explained haughtily to the waiting women in the shop who were beginning to be impatient.

‘That dog’s going to make the Social Register yet!’ the butcher declared to an appreciative audience when she had left.

For some time after that, I believed that the Register was an exclusive listing of dogs – and it came as quite a shock to me when I discovered the truth.”


“But she felt she had no choice. Her position in society was threatened. The socialite did succeed in having a local judge declare the divorce invalid on a technicality. Her husband’s life was disrupted. His second wife was no longer a wife at all. But presumably the first wife’s club privileges were restored.”


“I just contributed $10,000 to charity. And I think people should know about it.”


“Very few people here know that this book, which influences top-drawer society, was run for many years by the daughter of a train conductor.”


“The comeback of society is, of course, a side reaction to the comeback of money.”


“One impoverished gentleman, now working for a large corporation, recently asked his employer, a more fortunate son of society, for a raise. He complained that some new houses had been built and he could see them from his land. He wanted the extra money to finance the creation of a hill to shield his home – an estate beyond question – from theirs. His employer refused the increase, but he paid for the raising of the hill himself. He understood this was really important.”


“‘When you start doing volunteer work,’ a friend in the Junior League discloses, ‘you discover a very strange fact: Lots of the people you help would not dream of accepting charity from anyone else. But they feel flattered by getting attention from debutantes.’

‘They have to go to the Social Register to find someone good enough to help me!’ is the unspoken but prevalent view of many people aided.”


“‘On a boy’s wedding day I tear up his card,’ Miss Palmer declared dramatically, adding a moment later: ‘Of course I expect him back on file in eleven or twelve years as the father of a future debutante.'”


“I asked Miss Palmer how she has been able to equal (or even outdistance) her formidable rivals in the field so quickly. She thought for a moment, then answered: ‘I’m the only one of the three who has never married. This is my whole life.'”


“Many old people, although poor now, are pleased at attention from well-born young ladies.”


“Although the Old Guard may not believe it, there are people today – even quite well-to-do and respectable people–who have never heard of the St. Cecilia Society or the Terpsichorean Club of Raleigh and who think that the Baltimore Cotillon is spelled with two ‘i’s.”


“The West Coast is traditionally the land of opportunities, so people expect to make their way there easily. ‘You’re thinking of Los Angeles. They don’t even have a Social Register there,’ is apt to be the snide comment of San Franciscans.”


“And boys will come to New York parties from Boston, Philadelphia, or even Detroit if the hostess has a famous society name or is a former native of those cities. So will girls, but nobody needs girls, unfortunately, at least as party guests. There are too many of them already.”


“It was there in 1906, at Mary Astor Paul’s debut, that ten thousand exotic butterflies were brought from Brazil and stored in a cylinder suspended from the ceiling to be released at the high point of the ball. Unfortunately, the butterflies died and their release brought chaos instead of joy.”


“The subdebutantes provide their own escorts. The boys must be members. But the committee will consider for membership any young man suggested.

‘Is it hard to get a boy in?’ a woman asked innocently. Her question was greeted with laughter.”

[From The Private World Of High Society]

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