31 July 2008

Vesper Boat Club 1985

I'm on the far right. As close to crew as I ever got. This was a English Speaking Union party on Boathouse Row in Philadelphia. Pretty sure it was the Vesper Boat Club but don't quote me. The ESU threw amazing parties in Philadelphia around the mid-80's. Don't know if they still do. Lots of black tie events for no other reason than to wear it. I remember ESU being open to everyone and the dues were cheap. Hell, they accepted me. It's one thing to be a Naval officer's son - - quite the other to be a Green Beret officer's son.

Tool from Main Line: So, tell me. What's your father's business?

Me: Killing people.

TFML: Oh, you're from South Philadelphia? Funny, you don't look Italian.

I might as well have been. Still, most people didn't seem to care. There were Jews and blacks and gays at these parties. Very diverse. I remember a beautiful Iranian woman who owned a gallery. Stunning. I almost stated Farsi lessons.

What was important was your attire. My Italian friend, who was a Mummer, would have problems at an ECU party. Sammy had that South Philly, closed vent suit with a tone on tone shirt and grey leather shoes thing going on. Sammy always wore a crucifix and explained to me he wasn't that religious...he just didn't want to be mistaken for being Jewish.

If you were not the part - -you had to at least look it. Forget the guy in the boater and pay attention to my tie. Notice the stripes run from the left shoulder down towards the right. On an American tie they run from the right shoulder to the left. A detail but a very important one.

I remember it was hot. No a/c in the middle of August. Misery. But the girls were always decked out . These girls look like they don't know what to do with their hands. You know why? They're not holding a drink and a cigarette. That was how I remember them at parties. With The Talking Heads booming over a stereo.

I was big on cigars then, what with The Black Cat on Spruce and Holt's on Chestnut, you'd be an idiot not to imbibe in the leaf. Cigars attracted these girls like a magnet. They always wanted a puff...or two between drags on their Kent. Funny. I never saw anyone smoke Kents before Philadelphia or after.

16 comments:

Ben said...

That's hilarious that you quote Once in a Lifetime. A few weeks ago I was googling Duck Head when I found your blog and linked it to mine: www.oncewerebachelors.com. Not but mere days ago I did a short post on the Heads' song.

Great blog. I wonder if we were at the same parties? DC/Annapolis/Hampden-Sydney/Charlottesville circa 1985-1992?

tintin said...

DC in '87 and '88. I skimmed your blog and you've great style. Good luck with the 944. Sounds like your having a great time with it.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I was a Philly ESU member around then-excellent garden parties,lecture series etc.Don't know if it's still the same. We moved to D.C some years back, but we'll move back to the Main Line, one of the true Trad enclaves, in a few years when I can semi-retire.Boathouse row is great, and beautiful at nigt, with the famous John B. Kelly statue. We lived across the street from his son at one time.Thanks, Trad, for the memories!

Richard M said...

Sorry-I did not include my name on the ESU post.

initials CG said...

Great post tintin...!

So did you get the cigarettes and Sushi at the end?

I'd be pretty disappointed in you if you didn't...

Alice Olive said...

Hilarious! Talking Heads... maaaan, that takes me back to the good old days.

Great post!

tintin said...

Richard M-
I think the main line is something so unique and charming. While Philadelphia turns into a city that can't get out of its own way (and what a shame), the main line keeps getting better and better.

initials cg-
I never did get very far with women who loved sushi - - I couldn't afford sushi for myself much less for two. I did date a very erudite and sophisticated young lady who was a ECU member and consequently feel my post should be edited with respect to her.

Alice- I knew you would be a Talking Head's fan. This post brought back great memories of The Specials, The Jam, Style Council, English Beat, Haircut 100, Prefab Sprout, The Housemartians, Swingout Sister and lots of Ska. I gotta work on that mix tape.

richard m said...

I agree , tintin, with your assessment of the Main Line, where my wife and I intend to spend the September of our years. Keep up the good work, my friend.

porter hovey said...

Just love the photo -- so classic!!

Becs said...

Hi Trad, Great post, I love the picture, Becs

tintin said...

richard m- Maybe I'll run into you at the Anthony Wayne movie theater.

porter & becs- it was taken by a reporter from the Main Line Times. If you know anything about the Main Line Times you'll understand it was nothing but a social page. A pretty bad one if I recollect.

Becs said...

Hi TinTin, Thanks for stopping buy and letting me know about the website, I will check it out. My in-laws lived on the Main Line, until they got older, and moved to a smaller place. It is a beautiful area, and I love your comment about how your father kills people for a living and they thought you were Italian. - Political Correctness at its best! Great picture of you! Best, Becs

Anonymous said...

Love the blog. Wow. Women with gloves. This looks beautiful. And even more beautiful knowing that these aren't pole stripper gloves.

Anonymous said...

This is an unusually long break for you - hope all is OK!

Becs said...

Echo what Anonymous said, are you enjoying a nice long vacation? Becs

Anonymous said...

what is wrong with 'non diversity' -eg anglos having their own clubs or society? We always rave about countries and neigborhoods that remain 'ethnic' = eg keep their identity, why is it such a crime for anglos to do so. Jews for example are in no hurry to open their doors of power to anyone any time soon, in fact they have kept wasps OUT of the instutions that WASPs let them into, like the ivy leagues.