Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A couple of American...

...aristocrats died last week and their obituaries both appeared in the New York Times on Sunday. (I'm a little behind.)

Curtis Roosevelt, whose last name should require no explanation, passed away at age 86, while Carroll Wainwright Jr., the "Silk-Stockinged Stowaway," died at age 90. (All emphasis mine.)

Curtis Roosevelt (above) was the son of Anna Roosevelt, FDR’s eldest child and only daughter. He and "his sister, Eleanor, charmed Americans in the mid-1930s as Buzzie and Sistie, the towheaded children who lived in the White House with their grandparents Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt."

Curtis Roosevelt told The Los Angeles Times in 1994 that “when we moved into the White House, I didn’t have a feeling I was moving into some place into which we didn’t belong.” In his memoir, “Too Close to the Sun: Growing Up in the Shadow of My Grandparents, Franklin and Eleanor,” published in 2008, he added, “I found nothing out of the ordinary about an imposing house with a large, gracious staff.”

Curtis Roosevelt Dall was born in Manhattan on April 19, 1930, when Franklin Roosevelt was still governor of New York. The Dall family had moved in with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in their townhouse on East 65th Street after the stock market crash in 1929.

Not long after Roosevelt was elected president in 1932, Curtis’s parents separated, acrimoniously, which may have been why their son was rarely called Curtis. “Even my nickname was a way to create distance from Dad,” he recalled.

He and his sister lived in the White House from 1933 to 1935. The siblings were guarded by the Secret Service and were so coddled that when Buzzie went to school for the first time, he had never before unbuttoned his own shirt or flushed a toilet, according to his memoirs.

Curtis legally changed his name to Roosevelt, from Dall, and “married in the family tradition — four times.” 

As for Mr. Wainwright (above), he was "a descendant of the railroad magnate and financier Jay Gould on his mother’s side, and of Peter Stuyvesant on his father’s."

The youngest child of Carroll Livingston Wainwright, a painter, and the former Edith Kingdon Gould, a granddaughter of Jay Gould, Carroll Livingston Wainwright Jr. was born on the streets of New York City, in a Pierce-Arrow, on Dec. 28, 1925.

His arrival aboard a conveyance (his mother was returning from a party when she went into labor) was in keeping with family tradition: She herself had been born on her father’s yacht.

When he was only eight years old Mr. Wainwright was a stowaway on a ship bound from Bermuda to New York.

What was more, Carroll had the company of a youthful fellow traveler: By coincidence, a 16-year-old William L. Hires, a nephew of Charles E. Hires, the root beer baron, had also stowed away on that voyage.

A graduate of Yale and Harvard Law School (of course):

Mr. Wainwright served as assistant general counsel to Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York. At Milbank, Tweed, he specialized in trusts and estates for clients including the Rockefeller family. 

Ah, sic transit gloria mundi.

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