You can only imagine what it might have been like taking the drive from the city to Hyde Park in 1898 to enjoy a weekend with the Vanderbilt couple, Frederick and his wife Louise Anthony Torrance, who was twelve years his senior; hot as a Hudson Valley summer and coming off a marriage with one of his cousins.
Lavish dinners; maybe golf and trips around the spread by horse were weekend activities after stepping off the train, boat or vehicle carriage.
I can only guess that a rugged game of badminton and strip croquet were part of the games to wager on.
As a Vanderbilt, old Fred had a few dollars drop into his pocket from Grandpa Cornelius and spent it well on railroads, yachts and city townhouses.
Known for not rising to the top of his class Fred spent his time at Yale checking out chicks, smokes and came out with a degree from the Sheffield Scientific School.
As today, most degrees prove useless when your family has major bank. Fred soon joined the family business learning the ways of the railroad.
Fred saw himself as a gentleman farmer who watched over the gardens and livestock and allowed others to dirty their hands in true nineteen century fashion.
He and Louise were generous to the neighbors, and staff and a couple of the kids but subscribed to the thought “Ya can’t take it with you!”
As I settle into the mini-mansion of Hopewell Junction for the country’s holiday there is a feeling of luck and spirit of kinship with old Fred.
A cold beer in hand and spot on the veranda with an unobstructed view of the badminton competition is all any tycoon could ask for.