The 1952 individual Dressage podium – gold went to Henri St-Cyr (Sweden), silver to Lis Hartel (Denmark) and bronze to André Jousseaume (France).
Women were first allowed to compete in Dressage in 1952, making Lis Hartel the first woman to medal in the sport. Eight years earlier Lis contracted polio while pregnant and became paralyzed from the knees down. Despite this impairment, Lis won silver medals in both the 1952 and 1956 Olympics.
I am captivated by the artists of the Hudson River School.This attachment results from a lot of time spent in Upstate New York.Niagara Falls, the Adirondacks and the Catskills rate among the beautiful regions in America.
In 1816, Governor DeWitt Clinton, the driving force behind the Erie Canal, the New York Historical Society and the American Academy of Fine Arts, got it right:
“Here Nature has conducted her operations on a magnificent scale: extensive and elevated mountains – lakes of oceanic size – rivers of prodigious magnitude – cataracts unequaled for volume of water – and boundless forests filled with wild beasts and savage men, and covered with the towering oak and the aspiring pine.”
Wild beasts and savage men, indeed!The magnificence of the region was documented by the great American painters of the Hudson River School.
I have collected a few Hudson River School paintings.Among those to which I am most attached are three paintings by Ralph Albert Blakelock (1847-1919), a resident of Greenwich Village and perhaps the most tragic figure in history of American art.
As a youth and art student, Blakelock’s produced images demonstrating the impoverished shanties in what is now west midtown around 57 Street.He began his landscapes in the Hudson River style.From 1869-1872, he travelled to the American West and painted Indian encampments in a new style uniquely his own.The trip west also moved Blakelock to produce many moody scenes of canoes in watery landscapes lit by moonlight.
My the three Blakelock paintings cover the range of his work – a Hudson River-style landscape painting, an Indian encampment and a moonlight.
My Uncle Gussie, who passed away three years ago at the age of 94, was a New Yorker from the old school. Despite the fact that he had no formal education beyond high school, he possessed a wisdom about people and life that cannot be learned in school. We New Yorkers call this “street smarts.”
A long-time resident of Greenwich Village, he had an assortment of friends and neighbors that you couldn’t make up. There was “one-armed Joe,” Rocky I (so named to distinguish him from Sylvester Stallone), Richie (who used to keep him company), Dale, a Bible teacher, Jack Sweeney, the local Yankee fan (Gussie was a Mets fan), Vinnie the fishmonger and Tonto, a local handyman whose forte was painting apartments while totally inebriated and falling off ladders in the process.
Gussie lived in a ground-floor apartment which faced Hudson Street. This allowed him (and some of his friends) to talk to people on their way to work. Quite a few of them would engage him in banter (he was unofficially known as the Mayor of Hudson Street), and he preferred talking to good-looking women.
One of his most cherished possessions was a New York Mets cap, which I bought for him and which he wore religiously. (He had absolutely no use for the Yankees.) He was married to his beloved Rose for over thirty years (he married late in life), and they travelled all over the world. Rose passed away in her sleep on the day they were to begin another trip.
Gussie beat a bought of skin cancer, but passed from a stroke three years later. He gave me a solid gold ring (pictured here) which once belonged to his grandfather. The ring is over 100 years old.
Gussie knew everyone in the neighborhood, but he knew them only by their first names. This posed a problem for me when I was planning his funeral and couldn’t reach many people because I didn’t know their last names either and therefore, could not call them. I did get some of them, however, and they did show up. He would have enjoyed the send off. (Oh, he was buried with his Mets cap.)
Surely I would grab my vintage Ike Dress from the fire. The Eisenhower presidential campaigns of 1952 and 1956 featured some of the best paraphernalia. Like the man himself, his campaigns were comparatively larger-than-life and infused with charisma and excitement; though a mediocre president, the General understood a good campaign.
More importantly, this dress was a gift to me from David Garth, one of the founders of the political media business, whose own outsized personality was infused with the spirit of a good fight, a sense of historical adventure, and the creation of dramatic moments full of wit and imagination, punctuated with high dudgeon, and, in all, just plain fun. Garth became my mentor as I was just starting out; as a young man he had worked for Adlai Stevenson in his second race against Eisenhower. In a way, then, Ike was a beginning for him and his gift of the Ike Dress to me reminds me of my own start.
So, in the beginning of the 21st century, I must say that in some ways I pine for the 20th — for campaigns like Ike’s full of naive spectacle; for scrappy, lively people like Garth; for optimism and a belief in civic virtue in which, though politics and life might soil from time to time, any cynicism remains but a temporary reaction.