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Few people today have ever heard of him, but in the early years of the twentieth century, Samuel Untermyer took on the rich, the entrenched establishment, the robber barons, and the most powerful corporations in America. He also turned his estate into one of the most extensive and ambitious gardens of the Gilded Age. Located on the banks of the Hudson, it boasted extravagant structures based on Greek models, 60 greenhouses, and a staff of 60 gardeners. After Untermyer's death, the garden went into a steep decline, until the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy began a program of restoration that has brought a significant part of the original gardens back to their former glory. Visitors today can experience the grandeur of the garden, and the renovations continue. In Paradise on the Hudson, seasoned writer and garden historian Caroline Seebohm shares all this and more, telling a fascinating story of a dazzling Gilded Age garden created, lost, and re-found. Packed with contemporary and historical photography, this must-read entry into the canon of garden history celebrates an important garden in its former glory and in its current restoration.
In 1929, the Museum of Modern Art opened its doors, showing the astonishing paintings of Picasso, Matisse, and other avant garde artists. Young American artists quickly responded by experimenting with impressionism, cubism, and abstraction. In Monumental Dreams, author Caroline Seebohm tells the riveting story of how Ann Norton (1905-1982) a child of the South who had eschewed her Alabama roots to become a sculptor in New York City joined this new guard. She studied with John Hovannes and Jose de Creeft and was studio assistant to Alexander Archipenko. Her work was well received, and by age 35, she had already participated in group shows at MOMA and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Despite her burgeoning career, Norton found New York a difficult place to live. In search of paying work, she moved to Florida, where she became a teacher at the Norton Gallery and School of Art, founded by retired Acme Steel president Ralph Hubbard Norton. The two built a relationship based on love as well as common aesthetic values, and after his death, she built her finest and lasting work. Today, her monolithic sculptures in the spirit of Stonehenge, Henry Moore, and Buddhist temple art can be admired in the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens in West Palm Beach, FL.
Born into a poor family in Ecuador, Pancho Segura was an undersized and undernourished kid working as a ball boy at an exclusive tennis club when he first picked up a racket. Little Pancho is the story of how this improbable athlete, with his bandy legs, infectious smile, and unorthodox two-handed style of play, became one of the greatest and most beloved tennis players of all time. During his twenty years in pro tennis, general audiences appreciated his spirit as a master entertainer, while tennis fans adored him. Drawing on interviews with many in the game who knew or admired Pancho, Caroline Seebohm provides a close-up picture of the unlikely pro as his career first emerged in Ecuador and then developed further in the United States during the 1940s, where he broke down social and political prejudices with his charm, naturalness, and brilliance on the court. Little Pancho follows Segura from the University of Miami, where he won three consecutive NCAA championships (still a record), to his time on the U.S. professional tennis tour. On the pro tour of that time, Segura and his fellow players struggled to earn a living and find acceptance in the traditional, sometimes elitist tennis world, which scorned professionals as outcasts. Little Pancho shows us Segura when he quit the professional tour to become a coach at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club, working with movie stars such as Charlton Heston, Barbra Streisand, and Lauren Bacall. And finally, we hear for the first time from some of the later champions Segura coached, including Jimmy Connors. This history of tennis in the midcentury also is the inspiring story of how one poor Latino kid, through sheer grit, grace, and talent, changed the face of the sport forever.
The Jersey Shore is many things to many people. It is 127 miles of sand and surf, a sanctuary of untamed marshlands and endless dunes, a home to kitschy boardwalks, quirky shops, pulsing casinos, and countless examples of offbeat culture. But, above all, it is a powerful repository of nostalgia. The local historical societies are filled with photographs and memoirs describing landmarks razed, houses demolished, and beaches terminally eroded. Sometimes, it seems that the inexorable drive of development is well on its way to eradicating all traces of the fabulous, frivolous, and magical summer places that were once linked like jewels in a necklace from Sandy Hook to Cape May. In this delightful collection of personal accounts, historical anecdotes, and gorgeous photographs, Caroline Seebohm and Peter C. Cook cast a fresh eye on the dazzling array of quaint cottages, quirky bungalows, and splendid mansions that generation after generation have chosen as their summer homes. They explore the grand nineteenth-century palaces of Spring Lake and Bay Head, the private mansions of Deal and Allenhurst, and the charming surprises of Cape May Point. Through the cooperation of local residents, they also provide a rare look into some of the most secret and elusive private homes. From wraparound porches, to elaborate gables, to wooden turrets that offer stunning views, this book showcases all the fascinating and eclectic architecture that makes the Jersey Shore the beautiful, classy, tough, and diverse place that it is. It is an exquisite reminder that, for many, this storied coastline has been and continues to be, above all, the backdrop of their most blissful memories of summer.
In a society in which women were expected to take a backseat to men, Marietta Peabody was a rebel. Her first marriage, to Desmond FitzGerald, one of the founders of the modern CIA, failed ultimately because she was too independent and insisted on a career of her own. Of course, that she had met and fallen in love with Ronald Tree, an immensely wealthy and attractive member of the upper echelons of British society, also played a part in the breakup of her marriage. As the wife of Ronald Tree, Marietta was introduced to British society but found that world somewhat too stuffy for her tastes. It was when she and Ronnie moved their base of operations from England to New York and Barbados, however, that Marietta's true strengths as hostess and confidante to the rich and powerful came to the fore. Using these talents, she developed a close alliance with Adlai Stevenson and worked tirelessly for him during his unsuccessful bids for the U.S. presidency. In gratitude, he arranged her appointment as U.S. delegate to the Human Rights Commission under the sponsorship of the United Nations. Marietta Tree's untimely death in 1991, of cancer, marked the end of an era. She was among the last of a small, select group of women - which included Pamela Harriman and Slim Keith - who helped define the new standards of American womanhood. Passionately involved in civil rights and Democratic politics, Marietta Tree harnessed her femininity, wit, and intelligence to the cause of public service, and in so doing, found the energy and strength to be a truly independent spirit.