Sunday, May 30, 2010

Grandma Moves Out

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

The Civil War showed Leonard Jerome at his best. To seven year old Jennie Jerome, “I remember nothing about it, except that every little Southerner was ‘a wicked rebel’ to be pinched if possible.”

Leonard acquired a part interest in the New York Times. At the height of the Draft Riots in July 1863 he grabbed the latest in military hardware, a pair of gatling guns, and mounted them in the Times Building’s windows. The mob departed for easier pickings at the Herald Tribune.

Leonard made and lost enormous amounts of money. His womanizing and his gambling became increasingly notorious. As in business, he did not always win his battles. One day, while eating with his friend Belmont, he asked, “August do you remember Fanny’s celebrated ball?” Belmont replied, “Indeed I do. I paid for it”. Leonard slowly said, “Why, how very strange. So did I.”

“People like Belmont and Jerome do not enter Society, they create it as they go along,” a contemporary wrote. They founded the American Jockey Club, an important event in the history of horseracing. They built the Jerome Racetrack, with seating for eight thousand, a luxurious clubhouse, with dining rooms, guest rooms, a ballroom, and facilities for other sports such as skating, trapshooting, polo, and sleighing. It was the biggest sports facility in the country up to that time.

Distinguished guests such as Ulysses Grant attended opening day on September 25, 1866. Leonard’s horse Kentucky won and in the winner’s circle twelve-year-old Jennie was hoisted on top of him. With the crowd’s applause flowing around her, it was one of the most memorable moments of her life.

Leonard’s play became larger. How about a race across the Atlantic, with a cool $90,000, winner takes all? It was done. He held the victory party at the Royal Yacht Squadron at Europe’s most famous resort, Cowes, on the English Channel.

By 1867 Clara had had enough. She took the children and left for Paris.

This series consists of short summaries for passages from the book that I am writing. Graphic is that of another Churchill book that I really like.

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

No comments:

Post a Comment