Noble intentions

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The full moon over the Manhattan sky. 11:00 PM. Photo: JH.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018. A beautiful, sunny day in Manhattan with temps in the low 50s. I had a dog-health problem and spent the morning nervous at the vet. Result: everything’ll be all right and is showing those signs now.

What is on my mind at this particular day is one of those little life facts that whirl around in memory every now and then, always ignited by another memory. This memory is important because it comes to mind on this day every year, and maybe more than ever.

The newlyweds departing St. Thomas More after the “I do, I do” on this day in 1964. Behind us is my new brother-in-law (and lifelong friend) Patrick O’Donnell. I don’t recall the girl — probably the Maid of Honor — who was next him. We were on our way to the wedding reception and lunch at the Cosmopolitan Club. On this past Monday night 2018, I drove over to a dinner party on East 66th Street and happened to park next to the Cosmo Club. Passing by, like this day, I was reminded intensely again of that day in my life, and particularly how I was taking it all in.

I was married to Sheila on this day in 1964! There we are exiting the St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church on East 83rd Street that bright sunny morning – a Saturday. Dare I mention the age? 21 and 23, unaware then that we were very young. We were in New York starting the grown-up life, and the adventure was always potentially a bright one. Although the picture in its time frame tells the story: One of innocence and un-thought out noble intentions.

I have to admit that I love the picture which is accompanied by a lot of important and wonderful memories. I’m always reminded of the first time I saw her, one Saturday night – it was July 31,1963 in a discotheque (they were called that then) on Route 27 called Mitty’s General Store in Southampton. I was there at the bar, solo, and curious. She came in with another couple, and they went right to the entrance of the dining room. She was wearing bright green nubby silk slacks that fit her perfectly, and a navy silk pullover, and blonde hair.

She looked good! And smart! I wondered if she were solo that night, or if they were expecting a fourth to join. That seemed most probable given that she was solo. The headwaiter came along and guided them to a banquette. I moved away from the bar so I could get a view of their table. Waiting to see who or when or if.

In recalling this I realize that I never experienced that attraction before or since in my now long life. Because after about ten or fifteen minutes of keeping my eye on their banquette in the dining room, I decided to go into the dining room and over to their table, and ask her if she wanted to dance.

I can still see the look on her face. She looked up at this tall drink of water and gave a wide, kind of inverted smile — a face of serious disinterest in this stranger asking the question. She then looked at her friends as if to say, “is this guy joking?” Then she turned to me and said: “No. Thank you.”

I don’t really remember the “thank you” part. Because I did something else I’d never done before — or since. Instead of taking the answer as a rejection (no better word for it under the), since she didn’t want to dance, I asked her if I could join them at their table. Simple in the recounting, it was shocking to her. She looked at me as if I were crazy – big beautiful bright blue eyes astounded. She looked at her friends again, in shock but funny.

I stood there for a moment. And then she said: “Okay.”

And so I did and so it was. It’s a nothing story except it was a milestone in little David’s life; an important one.

The married couple in the summer of 1966 visiting a friend in Newport.

Last Tuesday night a week ago, The Park Avenue Armory held their annual fund-raising gala. Several hundred attended and this year they raised more than $2 million from the evening.

The Park Avenue Armory is a philanthropic project that is both cultural and restorative to life in the city in these changing times. Their annual gala is always a show in itself. It’s there to remind the audience that the Park Avenue Armory now is home of the culture of something different, something that takes you into your imagination for an experience with reality. It’s always a wonder and always a pleasure. This year they honored Marc Jacobs and Marina Kellen French for their great support of the Park Avenue Armory.

Julie Skarratt, Paul Bruinooge of PMC, and Stephanie Berger were there with their cameras for our pleasure.

The evening was generously underwritten by Hope and Robert F. Smith and the Thompson Family Foundation.

Co-chairs of the evening were: Wendy Belzberg and Strauss Zelnick, Emily and Len Blavatnik, Sonja and Martin J. Brand, Leslie and Tom DeRosa; Caryn Schacht and David Fox, Barbara and Andrew Gundlach, Janine and J. Tomilson Hill, Ken Kuchin and Tyler Morgan, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, Almudena and Pablo Legorreta, Heidi and Tom McWilliams, Amanda J.T. Riegel and Richard. Riegel, Susan and Elihu Rose, Liz and Emanual Stern.

Rachel Feinstein, Marc Jacobs, and Adam Flatto
Cecile McLorin Salvant
Klaus Biesenbach, Marina Kellen French, Jo Carole Lauder, and Ronald Lauder
Jon Stryker, Miss Fame, and Slobodan Randjelovic
L to R.: Hope Smith and Robert Smith; Jason Moran, Rebecca Robertson, and Alicia Moran
Pierere Audi and Heidi McWilliams
L to R.: Susan and Elihu Rose; Carrie Mae Weems and Mark Robbins
Sydie Lansing, Vartan Gregorian, and Marina Kellen French
Olivia Flatto and James de Givenchy

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