An envisioning . . . 1950 and a warm afternoon on the terrace at the summer cottage in Great Barrington.


Oh to be here.

Massachusetts in summer and one of the best yet. Well, not the child kind of summer spent running to make fairy grottoes back in the woods behind the hotel, free as long as you reappeared to eat.

Fun that had been. Everything filled with families and someone to play with every day.

No one much in the winter. No, that part of New York getting commercial again and everyone else having headed uptown. Mother saying she was sick of moving. Like dominoes, she had said. A move every fifteen years. Nothing else to be done, that or be so out of touch that you could never get a table to have tea at the Plaza.

Girls the same age to play crochet with while the boys swam in the pond in the morning. Girls in bathing suits in the afternoon and nursemaids sitting along the banks under umbrellas with lemonade and towels.

Suppers in the dining room and evenings chasing fireflies on the lawn. Beds to be tucked into up under the eaves. Fathers that came up on Friday and went back on Monday with dances across the lawn with a band from Boston to fall asleep to.

A joy. No better. If only but almost no pictures. The hotel lost in a fire and everything lost. New York pictures instead. An album and then another with perhaps a firefly memory somewhere in the folds.

But no. Dancing school in New York. A room full of girls dancing with each other. Better, Mother said, than a dancing school with boys though surely that would have been more fun.

All right, sort of. No clunky shoe prints on one’s slippers and no dance cards to figure out. . . no one to complain and all the afternoon left to try to waltz . . .


"Dancing class, the Minuet." Smolny Institute for Young Ladies, Saint Petersburg, Russia. ca. 1906.

“Dancing class, the Minuet.” Smolny Institute for Young Ladies, Saint Petersburg, Russia. ca. 1906. In the public domain due to age. via

This is not my story. It is, rather, the story of my friend Eleanor P. who was old when I was much younger than this, who grew up spending summers at the great hotels with a mother in every rocker and a child to play with in a summer that went on forever and ever and never seemed to end.

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