SI Vault
J. P. Marquand
July 25, 1955
The younger generation is a definite asset to life at the club. Still, there should be a limit
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July 25, 1955

Breakage At Happy Knoll

The younger generation is a definite asset to life at the club. Still, there should be a limit

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A letter from Mr. Roger Horlick of the Board of Governors of the Happy Knoll Country Club to Mr. Albert Magill, its President Emeritus, regarding the coming-out party given on the club premises by Mr. and Mrs. Godfrey Bledsoe for their daughter.

Dear Albert:
I am writing you in behalf of the Board of Governors to ask your help regarding a clash of personalities which at present is rocking the Happy Knoll Country Club. Our problem primarily has to do with Mr. and Mrs. Godfrey Bledsoe, whom you know better than I, and who yesterday were responsible for an emergency meeting of the Board. You are doubtless going to say that the Bledsoes are not the sort of people who could possibly cause such trouble. The Cromley crowd who have been drinking even more over weekends than usual—perhaps. The Athertons and the rest of that married group who live in that Beaver Hollow development—no doubt, but the Bledsoes—certainly not. I know that you will also say, don't under any circumstances antagonize Godfrey Bledsoe because we hope he will help with next year's deficit. This is exactly why the Governors decided that you might care to write him personally instead of our sending him a more formal communication. I may also add, the feeling is unanimous that you should do this, since it was you who were recently most vocal in advising that the facilities of Happy Knoll should be thrown open to young people, and thus it is largely because of you that the Bledsoes used the club last Friday evening for the coming-out party of their daughter, Alicia.

I know you will say that you at least have not forgotten that girls will be girls and boys, boys, and that you can illustrate this by some stories of your own youth and mine which, frankly, are about as outmoded as a T-model Ford. I also recall distinctly how you feel about young Alicia Bledsoe, who is known to her friends as Allie. I recall one afternoon last spring when we were sitting on the terrace by the new bar watching the young people disport themselves on the tennis courts, that your attention was so drawn to Allie Bledsoe that you expressed the wish that girls in our time had dressed more like her, since then the process of natural selection might have gone on in a more unimpeded manner. You then ended your statement by saying she was "well stacked up."

I recall I told you to use the language of your age group and added that the younger generation were becoming a real problem at Happy Knoll. In fact, only that day Old Ned at the bar had suggested that it might be better at the young people's dances to serve young boys of 15 slender shots of bourbon rather than to let them drink it privately behind the bushes of the parking area. This made you indignant. You said that you also had sampled alcohol when you were 15 and if you were 15 again you would repeat and do a lot more besides. It was a pity, you said, that we had not faced the problems of youth as frankly and fearlessly as young people do today. Also we must never forget that the younger generation is disillusioned and has lost its sense of security.

Frankly, Albert, I am growing a little weary lately of observing the lengths that young people now go in their search for security. I am also tired of hearing about "lost generations." If I remember rightly, this phrase started when a young man from Princeton, named F. Scott Fitzgerald, wrote a novel entitled This Side of Paradise in which he revealed that boys and girls, disillusioned by the antiquities of World War I, exchanged furtive embraces in their fathers' limousines. I reread this novel the other day and found it was very pallid stuff. Ask Allie Bledsoe if I am not right, or stay around for a while during one of our Saturday dances at Happy Knoll where Allie and her contemporaries are seeking for security.

Frankly, there was an unusually vigorous search for security at Alicia's coming-out party the other night where the latest lost generation, in striving to find itself, not only broke plates, glasses and furniture, but stole various mementos. None of us would bother you about this if it had not caused bad feeling and high words among parents who are solid members of the club. Naturally high animal spirits should be discounted and so should a little malicious gossip. I can also agree that our young people today are under a strain of uncertainty, but I only wish they would remember that everyone else is under a similar strain, especially the Board of Governors of the Happy Knoll Country Club.

The Board resents being blamed for what happened last Friday night. It is not our duty to censor the manners and morals of dancing parties, which should be up to parents. The trouble is that parents also have become demoralized, especially at Happy Knoll. For example, in view of the complaints that were showered upon the Governors regarding events of last Friday night, it was necessary to conduct several purely informal investigations. In the course of these it transpired that several young people, who do not wish their names mentioned, distinctly saw young Willie Atherton enter the Pendleton Room, go to the trophy corner and remove the silver polo mallets from the hands of the interestingly sculptured riders that decorate the top of the urn of the old Gibbs Polo Trophy that was won by Happy Knoll in 1887. On learning what had become of the polo mallets, we immediately communicated with Willie's father, asking that they be returned. Instead of being cooperative, he was furious, not at his son, but at the Board of Governors for insinuating that Willie should have committed such an act. It was also discovered that young Charlie Cromley stole the memorial portrait of old Jerry Farnsworth in his plus fours from the Pendleton Room. When Cromley Sr. was asked to have it returned, he, too, was furious. (The portrait, in case you are worried, has just been discovered in a drugstore window.) Then there was what is now referred to as "the scene" by the swimming pool which the Board of Governors decided not to investigate at all. Rumor has it that one of the Gridley sisters, whom you have always said were delightful girls, attempted a strip-tease act on the diving board and failed to complete it only because she fell accidently into the water. Simply because of these rumors, Mrs. Gridley, who has always seemed to me formidable, is threatening to sue the Country Club for defamation of character. Bernice, she says, was pushed into the swimming pool by a young man from New Rochelle who should not have been at the party at all. Even so, Bernice did not remove a single stitch of clothing and Mrs. Gridley says that she can prove it.

Well, so it goes. These are only casual samples of a number of curious events that occurred last Friday night. Yet whenever anyone is accused of being concerned with these happenings, it seems that all our young of Happy Knoll are innocent children who scarcely touched a drop of the champagne that Mr. Bledsoe vulgarly offered them. It seems, however, that there were other sinister forces afoot—unidentified young men who crashed the party and in particular a tough and undesirable element from the Hard Hollow Country Club. These individuals, it seems, none of whom can be identified, were responsible for all pilferings and all disorders last Friday.

It was the hope of the Board of Governors that this situation could be unraveled at least slightly and that bills for breakage and damage would be cheerfully shared by various responsible parties. This, it appears, is not to be the case. It seems that your poor friend, Mr. Godfrey Bledsoe, must foot the bill alone, which is going to be unexpectedly heavy. This is why we are asking you to write a letter that will break the news to Mr. Bledsoe pleasantly. The suggested draft I enclose will be useful to you largely because of the information it contains. Please feel free to say what you like, but along these lines and in this spirit:

Dear Godfrey:
I wish that I might have been with you and Bertha at the Happy Knoll Country Club the other Friday. I hear it was a delightful occasion and you know how partial I am to your Allie. Indeed, like the late Mr. Justice Holmes, I almost find myself saying, oh to be 70 again! As you and Bertha have often heard me remark, boys will be boys and girls will be girls, no matter what steps one takes to prevent it and I believe that Happy Knoll should have the accent of youth and would indeed be a sad place without it.

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