Reflections on Rich Girls

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Up in the air. Photo: JH.

Wednesday, October 19, 2021. Sunny and bright in the mid-60s and made colder by an occasional breeze, yesterday in New York.

Little David, age 3, with his big sis Helen.

Rich girls. I was thinking about the subject for a Diary because it’s essentially harmless in an atmosphere these days that is anything but. It’s a subject that has fascinated me from the time I was a poor little white boy longing to be liked by one of those pretty little rich girls. It’s the child speaking now but the subject has been one of my Life teachers.

I think it might have been a conversation between Hemingway and Fitzgerald where Fitz said something like, “The rich are different …” To which Papa, ever the sensible adult tolerating poor Fitz replied, “Yes, they have money.” That definitely can be a Key to the lure.

On my way through the tortured thought process that awakens the memory about the subject, coincidentally yesterday morning I received an email from a reader up in Massachusetts with a link to a story in the Boston Globe and the words “Another connection to your Rockefeller Standard Oil story last week.”

Her reference was to John Foreman’s “Old House” story that we ran last week about two Long Island mansions owned by a Standard Oil heir Herbert Lee Pratt.

Herbert Lee Pratt’s Georgian manse in Glen Cove, Long Island, c. 1905, lasted about ten years before Pratt tore it down and replaced it the neo-Jacobean palace, below.

Naturally I clicked on the link which took me to the story written by Alexander Huls for the Boston Globe (Online) and published yesterday: The Martha’s Vineyard heiress, the Florida psychic, and the case of the missing millions.

Vera Pratt.

The opening sentence is: “Nobody is quite sure when Vera Pratt began to believe that demons had entered her body and lodged near her right shoulder blade.”

Unfortunately we don’t have the rights to publish Mr. Huls’ excellent story about the life of Vera Pratt, an heiress to that Standard Oil fortune. I’d never heard of her until reading this story so my initial interest was minimal. Until I couldn’t stop reading her story, compellingly told by Huls.

If you do read the story — which you will definitely finish if you start you can then also read the official biography and obituary of Ms. Pratt.

It is very important to read the Huls’ story FIRST, and then follow with the OBITUARY.

It demonstrates how a complicated life can be invisible to the outside and even among close friends and family.

Amazing. A life of sadness. I couldn’t help wondering what Vera Pratt’s story was reaching back to childhood where all of our stories begin (and often remain). I wondered who the individual was during that childhood who held the most power (in her mind). Mother? Father? Sibling? Butler/maid? Male? Female?

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