Sunday, February 18, 2007

Topsy Taylor

Topsy Taylor is the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Moses Taylor, born in 1805, the son of John Jacob Astor’s business manager.

By his early 20s, Moses Taylor was a major importer of Cuban sugar, an important investor in the Manhattan Gas Light Company, and the director of City Bank of New York. Later, as chair of the Loan Committee of the New York Clearing House, he was credited by some for saving the Union financially during the Civil War. He was regarded as instrumental in making New York the center of international business that it is today.

His granddaughter (by a factor of five – or is it four?) grew up outside of New York and in Newport. Since her marriage to the brother of designer Mary McFadden, George McFadden (with whom she has a daughter and a grandchild), from whom she has been divorced for several years, she has lived in New York and in Newport in the summer. An impassioned helicopter pilot, she has her own chopper charter business in the City. She is very active in City Harvest, the charity which collects restaurant food at the end of each day and distributes it amongst the hungry and the needy.

Topsy has a bearing and accent which speaks “uppah-clahss” New York, one of the last mid-Atlantic accents, the result, no doubt, of upbringing and schooling. It is the kind of bearing and accent which might easily lead one to believe they are in the presence of a Big Snob. However. She is also a very worldly woman from her youth when she traveled constantly in the thick of the jet set. She is also one of the nicest, kindest, and most directly honest women in New York.

She has a vice. It is ice cream – a special brand which is imported from Wisconsin and which comes in a variety of flavors often spiked with large (really large) chunks of chocolate. At the end of the day, she makes herself an ice cream cone with one of them. She once sent me a few pints of various flavors of this ice cream (shipped in dry ice fresh to my door). I am not an ice cream addict but this turned me into one. I thanked her for my gift and asked her not to send anymore.