One Hundred Years Ago


JUNE 1916

As I write this in the middle of May we have the heating on in the offices. The Third Floor group just had lunch on the North Porch – a favorite spot to relax and discuss our work – but we all came back to our desks hurriedly, grateful to be out of the cold!

We think this is unusual, but Estelle Clements tells us that on June 1, 1916 the temperature at Blithewold was only 57 degrees.

In Boston, Marjorie had just moved into the house she and George had bought on Acorn Street. She reported [Last night] I slept with two blankets over me, a coat over my feet, and a sweater, tights, and George’s golf stockings on.  Talk about Boston being cold in the winter – why the summer has beaten it hollow! But the house is looking sweet in spite of rain.”

The week continued cool and rainy, but by June 5 it was fine enough for Marjorie to play in a golf tournament in Topsfield.  Bessie and Estelle discussed their choice of flowers for the water garden, and they checked out the iris, lilacs and rhododendrons. The climbing roses were in bloom, and the gardenias.

There were teas and dinners with friends and a trip to Roger Williams Park to see the rambler roses. On Sunday June 18th Samuel Dean, Bessie’s antiques-dealer friend, came to sing at Blithewold to an audience of 30 people.

And as a special treat, a 28 lb. Canadian salmon arrived at Blithewold, a gift from Bessie’s brother, Israel.

The household were on edge somewhat, still reeling from the discovery in May that the Caro-Delvaille portrait of Bessie, Marjorie, and Augustine had been stolen, and Estelle notes that William McKee had spoken with the police. (It was never recovered.)

Margaret Whitehead