Debbie’s Hamptons Diary

Why did I wear pink suede stilettos?
by Debbie Bancroft

The Southampton Hospital Summer Party is slightly younger than I (gawd, why do I give up these things, just to make you chuckle?). She is 54, and we are both holding up rather well, I daresay.

Apparently this is the East End’s longest running charity party. The Hospital is healthier than ever, thanks to the good work of its able President and CEO, Robert Chaloner. The evening’s emcee Chuck Scarborough called him "The Michael Phelps of hospital administrators," to which he humbly responded, "He’s younger and has more hair." And more jewelry.

Also able was this year’s Benefit Chair, Laura Lofaro Freeman. How ‘bout this, for an unusual benefit chair: she’s the founder and CEO of the Executive Search and Consulting firm, Sterling Resources International, she lectures at Columbia Business School, comes from a family of medical professionals, has lived in and loved Southampton for almost 20 years, and here’s the kicker — she themed the party around her beloved husband’s racecar career (he’s won the 24 Hour Endura of the Daytona 400 in 1989).
Laura Lofaro Freeman, Benefit Chair with eyes bluer than her dress.
Toasting and toasty, Raffle and Auction Chair Somers Farkas. Mayor Mark Epley and SH Hospital President and CEO Bob Chaloner.
Patrick, bracing himself for a long evening, and 1,200 faces.
One of Patrick's pics: Kate Edmonds Donner, Alex Donner, Jean Shafiroff, Ellen Scarborough, Debbie Bancroft, Patricia Duff, Chuck Scarborough, Margo McNabb Nederlander, and Sara Herbert-Galloway.
Hats off to accomplished, busy people. They get it done. Steven Stolman, president of Scalamandre (remember when he made dresses out of decorative fabric ... he’s come full circle), designed the Hotel de Paris themed tent. We dined on what I believe were Scalamandre floral tablecloths, available to purchase, after they cleaned the chicken Marengo off.

Laura’s hubby, Jim Freeman imported  vintage race cars cars that were on display outside the tent. Tom Edelman tried to get a good look at one, but was stopped by a beefy security fellow. “Back off,” he intoned. Really? From a bumper?  

Then he saw the models (we love a man who sees cars before models), with millions of dollars of diamonds from Graff, the benefit’s sponsor, looped around their tiny chassis.
Steven Stolman's ceiling — where I end up gazing at the end of the night. Only in the tent.
Vintage race car. A little Thomas the Train, no?
Dancing shoes, maybe?
There was a tempting silent auction, and a raffle. Years ago, my daughter, Serena, sold those raffle tickets at the party, as a pint sized volunteer. What her dizzy mummy didn’t realize, is that the junior volunteers were expected to leave, just as we were sitting down to dinner. Hmmm. I had no one to fetch, and a wonderful friend, Robert Zimmerman, to my left suggest we might tuck her in between us. This was, I should mention, a casual buffet, with nary a footman in back of a chair, or an engraved place card in sight. My hostess sniffed, “This is an adult table!” as her husband looked on in horror.

Margo Nederlander
, viewing this unfortunate moment, swooped Serena up, and insisted she join their table (where they talked about “Wicked” and “The Lion King” — where would you rather be?). And six years later, I sat with the Nederlanders, and discussed how much Serena loved the internship she just completed with them this summer.

Alex Donner’s band revved up the crowd up with an extended version of “Respect,” my absolute #1, favorite song to dance to (followed closely by “It’s Raining Men”).
Margo McNabb Nederlander and sister Mary. Margo sports earrings from Delhi, from a deli. Truly. That's style.
Nurses from the E.R. and Dr. John Anton's office. Why we were there.
I looked desperately for a dance partner. Where was my son Will? Why did I bring him anyway? There was a sea of respectable married doctors with wives, and nary a solo chap. My pal Patricia Duff and I, always in sync, looked around the room, spied an exceedingly handsome Robbins Wolfe waiter, stationed perilously close to us, looked back at each other with raised eyebrows, then thought better of it, and exited.

We were mollified by a terrific goody bag — a rarity these days, and a Mr. Frosty ice cream truck, serving up sweets to go, and later, giving a group of wise, not driving juniors, a lift to the next party.
Ellen Scarborough shimmying and shimmering with Chuck, m.c., lucky hubby.