In the late fifties, we were living in New York and my mother had apparently joined something called the English Speaking Union. They had what are now known as happy hours with dancing to which she dragged me along. I remember fending off impudent young men who apparently had the wrong idea about the purpose of the event–to learn to speak English better. LOL

Recently, Vanity Fair has published some stories about Doris Duke running over her companion in 1966 and that reminded me that my mother talked about meeting and having lunch with Doris Duke in the same way she talked about having known the Princess of Turn und Taxis for whom she had made some clothes.

Doris Duke was apparently slumming in New York and I note that the English Speaking Union is still going strong with 59 brnches nationwide and a handful in North Carolina in association with the Duke Estate. The companion, Eddie Tirella, whom she ran over with her car, had been advising her on fashion, art and interior decoration–interests my mother shared.

Is the ESU set up as a place for society women to pick up men? I don’t know. Certainly my mother had no such interest. But there was an interest in getting me connected and maybe even married off to a wealthy older man. Which is one reason I went to a Catholic women’s college in Western Pennsylvania.

Sometimes I feel Forest Gumpish. My mother-in-law was also a peripheral socialite and accounted for the connections that got us an invitation to some embassy reception for President Lyndon Johnson that involved him walking into and out of a crowdex room and shaking a few hands along the way. I actually have photographs from the Louisiana Picnic sponsored by Rep. Hale Boggs.