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Seriously, Jeffrey—and one of the most warming things about our visit yesterday was that we moved so naturally into the first-name basis—everybody around here is overjoyed, not to say relieved, that you and Mrs. Cutbutton have purchased the Triboro Estate. Frankly, a lot of us who love this community were deeply worried when Arthur Triboro finally passed out of the picture. Of course, it is one of the star places in this community, but confidentially, we had been a little afraid that it might end up as a nursing home until you came along. I simply mean that the whole charming layout is pretty big for some people to swing, and it needed an imagination like yours to perceive that the kennels for the Irish wolfhounds could be made into a cozy sort of rumpus room.
As I say, we only dropped in to greet the Cutbuttons, but it is good news that you like golf, Jeff, and don't let me forget I want you to come to the next Saturday Golf Sweepstakes at Happy Knoll. It is swell, too, that Mrs. Cutbutton loves bridge, and I have made a memo to see that Mrs. Cutbutton is invited to the next Ladies Bridge Lunch at Happy Knoll. It was also great, Jeff, to see your lovely daughter. Our Janie is just your Myrtle's age. The two girls must get together "tout sweet" so that Janie can tell Myrtle about the teen-age Saturday dances at Happy Knoll—good, clean fun, and with sincere oversight. As for your sons, I hardly have to tell you what alert, manly little fellows they are! I can see them in my mind's eye on the Happy Knoll courts learning tennis from our Art Beckett. Art almost won the Intercollegiates and though older now, has retained a real sympathy for children.
Well, I seem to be getting back to Happy Knoll in spite of myself, envisaging the whole Cutbutton clan as members there, but my real point in writing is to confirm my offer of yesterday regarding assistance in helping you get settled. We both know how easy it is for anyone coming to a new area to get started off on the wrong foot, and here as elsewhere, all that glitters is not gold. The Hard Hollow crowd will surely have been to see you by the time you receive this letter. May I ask for your own sake that you won't forget your promise not to take any step in that direction without giving us Happy Knollers a chance to talk you out of it? I frankly have no ulterior motives in this regard, though naturally, Happy Knoll would be proud to include in its membership anyone able to swing the Triboro place, but that is not the point. The point is that I, as your friend and neighbor, don't want to see you getting off on the wrong foot.
Confidentially, when I first came here, a poor greenhorn from Greenwich, I was approached by the Hard Hollow crowd myself. I don't mean for a minute to be critical of Hard Hollow. They're a swell aggressive bunch and we here believe in cards face up and no throat cutting or subversion—not in this community. Still they do need new members very desperately at Hard Hollow, and I can imagine some of the exaggerated points they have made to you. One, no doubt, is the exclusive-ness of Hard Hollow. Without meaning to be harsh, this theory is diametrically contrary to fact. The membership of Hard Hollow happens to be smaller than Happy Knoll's only because our community is not yet large enough to support two country clubs, and Happy Knoll is more popular but not for a single instant less selective. I might add as an ironical footnote that Hard Hollow's president, Gus Poultney—a prince of a fellow, by the way—just happened for one reason or another not to make the grade when his name came up before the Happy Knoll admissions committee. No doubt Hard Hollow has its own standards. A great crowd, a swell place, but it isn't Happy Knoll .
They surely have also talked to you about charm and atmosphere. Well, their clubhouse is charming from the outside, all right, since there is a nostalgia about any ruin, not that they aren't still struggling pathetically to keep Hard Hollow up. Admittedly, the main room at Hard Hollow is said to have been constructed from the kitchen of the old Vanpoost farmhouse which stood there at the time of the Revolution, but anyone in this mid-century will tell you that the Hard Hollow plumbing is on the verge of collapse and cannot be fixed without tearing down the building. No wonder, with constantly recurring repairing crises, the deficit of Hard Hollow has reached unbearable proportions. No wonder they keep searching for new members.
Without wishing to be unkind to a delightful neighbor, what else has Hard Hollow got beside age? They may have weekly square dances in the old farm kitchen, but when the furniture is whisked away from our assembly lounge at Happy Knoll you have a modern ballroom that has been endorsed by orchestras of the Benny Goodman caliber, and only last year our ladies' committee has added a brand new powder room. Another point they emphasize at Hard Hollow is the bar. Undoubtedly they will tell you that Henri, their barkeeper, is an acquisition from Happy Knoll. They are welcome to him. It is a well-known fact that one Happy Knoll martini is equal to two Hard Hollow's and Henri, who has the bar on a concession basis, could doubtless tell you why. He did not need to tell us at Happy Knoll where we have a magnificently alert house committee.
I am not a poet, except for writing a few well-received jingles at our annual banquets, but when it comes to comfort and lovely surroundings I could write an ode to Happy Knoll. Sit on our new flagstone terrace with a half-filled glass in your hand and look about you casually. The panorama greeting you spells, in a word, happiness and security. The first tee and the fairway leading from it form an inviting magic carpet, and our new pool right beside you is filled with happy, shouting children, supervised by Andy Muller who was an Eagle Scout before he tried out for the Olympics. Then comes the 18th green and next to it our four new en tout cas tennis courts resounding with the twang of rackets. The summer afternoon is waning. Happy voices drift from the bar and from the gin rummy players in the Pendleton Room. From the kitchen comes the tempting odor of French fries. Old Nicodemus, our chef straight from the Aicken Hunt Club, will be working on fried chicken in another minute. And what is this new sound? Cracked ice for juleps. Old Ned in our bar is making them up already for the thirsty foursome you see on the other side of the final sandtrap. You say this sounds like any other country club? How wrong you are. You have yet to know the warmth and charm of Happy Knoll.
The Hard Hollow Committee must of course have emphasized their golf, since golf is frankly about all they have to talk about. Their tennis courts are negligible, their swimming pool an engineering fiasco; they have no winter skating rink, no skeet facilities, only golf. The Hard Hollow course is admittedly older than ours, as I am afraid is proved by the run-out condition of the fairways and the archaic drainage of the greens. They will also tell you about their pro, Jerry Scalponi, who by fast talk alone has convinced Hard Hollow that he is a teacher. If a good teacher is a poor player, then I admit he should be a professor. Our own Benny Muldoon at Happy Knoll has always "taken" Jerry on each occasion they have met, and Benny, though a fine sport, would not mind telling you, confidentially, what he thinks of Jerry. Personally, I would never let Jerry Scalponi analyze my golf swing. Only intelligent criticism or none is my motto.