Life’s a merry-go-round

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One man's trash is another man's treasure. Photo: JH.

Raining steadily but lightly in New York as I write this late Tuesday night. It started lightly around midafternoon. Temps in the mid-30s. All the weather-watchers among us are talking polar vortex polar vortex. And very cold. I don’t know; we’ll see. Anything’s possible these days.

I went down to lunch at Michael’s. The sidewalks along 55th, getting out of the Q subway station, were quiet for a weekday. Must have been the forecasts keeping people indoors. Although it wasn’t raining. Just overcast.

This was Norman Foster just last week completing La Diagonela in Switzerland — a 30 km cross country ski race through the mountains! Told you: Top of his game.

Nevertheless Michael’s was busy. I didn’t have much of a chance to check out the clientele because I was late arriving. But Sigourney Weaver was at the table in front of us, with super-agent Leslee Dart. And at the table next to them was Lord Norman Foster, Baron Foster of Thames Bank, the international architect. He’s one of those individuals who just looks like somebody. There’s command and authority in his bearing, and on his countenance.

I first caught a glance as he was taking his table. He looked like some seasoned highly successful Hollywood producer. He dressed the part, snappy blazer casual, impeccable tailoring; slacks, maybe jeans/not sure; and a lean, toned up figure. I wouldn’t have guessed his age although he doesn’t look like a young man. I looked him up. He’s going to be 84 in June. Top of his game.

Last November he announced he’s building a skyscraper in London’s financial district that will be topped with what looks like an unopened tulip. In the financial district; yes, I know I already wrote that.

I was lunching with Ambassador John Loeb. He served as US Ambassador to Denmark during the Ronald Reagan years. John and I have one of those unique New York lunch friendships. We shared historical interests in common, and we are never at a loss for discussing family matters from an historical point of view. Our conversations are stimulating and informative.

Ambassador John Loeb and Sharon Handler Loeb in front of one of John’s important Danish Paintings.

Last year he published his memoirs – or what may be Volume 1. It is a scholarly massive approach to a life and family history. His family background is also wide, and historical, related as he is directly to Lehmans, Lewisohns, Bronfmans and other prominent families chronicled in Stephen Birmingham’s classic “Our Crowd.” The library at Harvard is named for his father, John Loeb Sr.

He is also owns the largest private collection of Danish artists. His memoir “John L. Loeb Jr.; Reflections, Memories and Confessions” is not only a memoir, but a history of an era, its economics and mores.

After leaving Michael’s walking east on 55th, passing the Peninsula where the marquee was being tranformed for Chinese New Year’s.

After lunch I came home to an email from a friend I’ve known all my life, Jane Siska Dolan who lived a couple of houses a way from mine when we were growing up. Coincidentally we have the same birthday. Jane lives in Mexico, and has for many years, where she raises orchids and on a plot of land over looking a lake and surrounded by her exotic floral treasures.

She wrote:

Hello David, I was sorting through some old photos and came across this one of you and I taken by my mother in our front room at 10 High Street. I know it was the first time I had a corsage and a dance date. It was a gardenia wrist corsage. Memories of our 8th grade dance are vague but I am sure we had a good time. I do remember that you danced better than I did. Thinking of you, Jane.

Old friends, then brand new, young girl coming of age and long, tall drink of water.

I don’t remember it at all. I remember our eighth grade teacher, Miss Williams, and Dodie H. who was the prettiest girl in the class although if it were today she would be described as the hottest girl in the class, and the first to show an adult figure, as well as being nice. We were thirteen in a very different world from that of a thirteen-year-old today.

It’s very curious looking at yourself as a kid, remembering the approaching “crisis” of adolescence. Interesting that I can’t see any of it on that young face. So serious.

Last night I was invited to join Charlotte Ford, her daughter Elana’s son Buddy, who is studying here in New York, and her sister Anne to celebrate Anne’s birthday at La Grenouille. Everyone had the restaurants famous Dover Sole with the mustard sauce, and then cake, or rather the chocolate soufflé. The restaurant was very busy for a quiet, rainy, cold night in New York, another world away.

Anne gets her wish!

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