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Good photos of cool rich midcentury Americans on yachts in New England.
March 26, 2013 12:47 PM   Subscribe

Good photos of cool rich midcentury Americans on yachts in New England.
posted by maiamaia (95 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Rich people sure know how to spend daddy's money. haaaaaa-haaaah
posted by Napierzaza at 12:56 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, Biff and Muffy so loved getting out on the water. . .
posted by Danf at 12:58 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


The photos are not half bad, but I am indeed having a hard time setting down my classist revulsion.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:58 PM on March 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


Posted by Muffy Aldrich at 2:43 PM

Oh crap! I didn't even see this when I made my previous comment.
posted by Danf at 1:02 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


You realize that they don't own that yacht, right? You can take a 4-day cruise on her today for $645; this hardly seems like "millionaire's playground" stuff. Do we have any supporting evidence at all for the "rich" in the FPP? And please, don't come back with the "well, they're obviously rich compared to starving beggars in Calcutta" or something. While true enough it's also true of plenty of "47 percenters."
posted by yoink at 1:02 PM on March 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


"That must be life, he thought - to be young, rich, handsome, strong, and at the back of all that, to be untroubled. A few minutes passed before he noticed that the other boat wasn't moving. They had beached it on a ridge just under the water."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:02 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


The dark eye of Ambercrombie & Fitch blinks — it has sensed something worthy of its attention. Slowly it turns, scanning, and comes to rest, finally, on www.muffyaldrich.com. Yes, it has found something good.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:02 PM on March 26, 2013 [24 favorites]


I want every item he is wearing.

Ha. I took one look at the photos and had exactly the same thought. (Except for the shorts. I don't do shorts. Though on a yacht, I might.) Classic High WASP A+++

setting down my classist revulsion.

But, look! She's wearing Wranglers!
posted by octobersurprise at 1:05 PM on March 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


This one, showing them far away, and moving infinitely further. It soothes me.
posted by Oddly at 1:10 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had just received a note from Trey urging me to peruse Muffy's latest when Charles brought the telephone out to the stables. It was Thad. He was calling to tell me the very same thing!
posted by xod at 1:10 PM on March 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


But, look! She's wearing Wranglers!

It's ironic. See also: this lady planking.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:11 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


The photos are not half bad, but I am indeed having a hard time setting down my classist revulsion.

Rich people are often beautiful and have beautiful things. I like looking at pictures of beautiful people and beautiful things.
posted by Think_Long at 1:11 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


The context* is probably not helping the classist revulsion, but yoink's right that there's nothing about this particular collection of sailing pictures that makes it the exclusive preserve of the upper class.

*The context being a site that published a list of the ten preppiest brands. That said, their list is actually pretty middlebrow by the standards of actual East coast preps.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:13 PM on March 26, 2013


The dark eye of Ambercrombie & Fitch blinks — it has sensed something worthy of its attention.

Actually, you can buy this exact hoodie from J. Crew. I have one.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:13 PM on March 26, 2013


The actual rich folks own an island, not a funky old (wonderful, amazing) wood boat.
posted by sammyo at 1:14 PM on March 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


You can take a 4-day cruise on her today for $645 ...

Just 3 of the MANY such current charters in Maine:
Maine Schooner Charters.

Maine Windjammer Cruises.

Maine Sailing Adventures.
posted by ericb at 1:23 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I poked around elsewhere on the site a bit. On the one hand, yeah, the "hi we're tanned and beautiful people taking a ride on our yacht" stuff sets of 1% alarms, but then you have this, which is pinging every last one of my born-in-New-England-visits-to-grandparents-on-cape-cod chords.

The guy in the middle in this picture looks just like Grandpa.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:24 PM on March 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


They are great photos that capture the timelessness of (a certain type of) New England aesthetics. Guess maiamaia should have framed this from the POV of acid mine workers or a minority.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:26 PM on March 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sailing a windjammer in 1964, whether or not you rented it, was absolutely the province of the wealthy. Is it clear that every single one of these people were rich when these pictures were taken? No. Of course not. Is it likely? Oh yes it absolutely is.

Do we have any supporting evidence at all for the "rich" in the FPP?

You could just read the rest of the blog, written by the daughter of the photographer.
posted by incessant at 1:28 PM on March 26, 2013


A little reticent to mention this, given some of the negative comments above, but I'll go for it anyway.

I loved this, thanks for posting it. I sailed a lot when I was younger. We had a boat, but it was a hand-me-down from an older cousin who couldn't spare the time for upkeep any longer. We worked hard on it, learned to sail, used it for 10-15 years and then handed it down to another family with kids the right age. It's since passed through 3-4 other families in my home town, always free but with a lien (the prior owner can use it if it's available, but never does).
In high school, which studying marine science, a few of us got to sail the HMS Rose replica, which was ultimately used for the filming of Master and Commander a few years later. We sailed her all day and then spent the night in port. It was really incredible.
Now I live in NYC and, despite both rivers and the bay, desperately miss the water. The Gowanus doesn't help at all, although the Gowanus Yacht Club is great!
posted by staccato signals of constant information at 1:30 PM on March 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


Epic.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:34 PM on March 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Holy shit, this could be my father TODAY.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:36 PM on March 26, 2013


I still sail occasionally on classics like these. It's hard work sometimes but normally great fun.
This, a hundred times this.
All I ask is a tall ship.
Of course I might be a bit biased as I spent 15 years at sea.
posted by adamvasco at 1:40 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh Metafilter and the Prep Trad Style blogs! Two great tastes that taste great together! I encourage everyone to check out Muffy's B-School style comparison of preppy companies and their lifecycle. For those who aspire to a fustier kind of old school, I recommend the Ask Andy About Clothes Trad Forum.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:43 PM on March 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I had the pleasure of sailing on a family friend's yacht many times throughout New England waters. The Schooner Welcome is a 62 foot Gaff Rigged Topsail Schooner and was built in Padanaram, MA.

Arthur Snyder (the father of one of my best friends) commissioned it to be designed as a replica of an 1815 revenue cutter. Since his passing the family sold it to SC Charters in Charleston, SC.

A few times he hosted scientists from National Geographic in crossing the Atlantic to England and Europe (and back) for their studies of winds and currents.

Many fond memories of Arthur and sailing on The Welcome.
posted by ericb at 1:44 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually encourage everyone everywhere to read Ask Andy About Clothes; it simultaneously equips you to judge other people for totally stupid shit,* and reminds that you that there are people more neurotic and unhinged than you are, no matter how neurotic and unhinged you may be.

*Brown clothes in the city? Tsk. Tsk.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:48 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


^ incessant; please take your class warfare somewhere else. I sailed on similar to these. I was and am not wealthy instead
I worked for the very rich.
posted by adamvasco at 1:48 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


You could just read the rest of the blog, written by the daughter of the photographer.

I read around in a bit; I didn't find anything about what her father did for a living or what kind of money he earned or inherited. Did you? It looks like they're an old New England family, and she's certainly trading on a lot of inherited cultural capital in the blog: but I'm not seeing evidence one way or the other of the "rich" tag.

Sailing a windjammer in 1964, whether or not you rented it, was absolutely the province of the wealthy


Why? Are you suggesting that it is a lot cheaper to charter one of these yachts now than it was then? I can't really see why that would be the case. Or did they do some kind of means testing of people who chartered the yachts and turn them away if they weren't wealthy?

Sailing has certainly always skewed wealthy; but it has also always been accessible in coastal places to people of more modest means. There are lots of rich people who own yachts who are happy to pick up a crew for weekend racing, say, who could never dream of owning the yacht they're helping to sail. And those are precisely the kind of people who might charter a yacht for an occasional holiday.

This isn't a big deal, of course, and it's entirely possible that they are, in fact, a wealthy family. I just found it a disappointing editorial intrusion in the FPP: it so obviously framed it as another "Metafilter eats the rich" abuse session. Why not just let the cool photos speak for themselves?
posted by yoink at 1:50 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Are these the customers' yachts?
posted by chavenet at 1:53 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


How funny. I discovered and devoured the entire archive of The Daily Prep while I was recovering from a vicious bout of norovirus last month. Muffy's husband used to work in my industry, but where they seem entrenched in their milieu, I am a rootless exile in a city of rootless exiles. Lying in bed, unable to keep down even miso soup, I was entranced by the idea of being _from_ somewhere, of being able to compare purchases made thirty years ago with purchases of the same item from the same supplier today.

Then as I got back on my feet I began to notice all the shibboleths and Don'ts (the tag Preppy Guard Rails is particularly rich in snide asides) and how they function as a way to identify certain people as Inauthentic, Deficient in Stewardship or just plain Ungracious. Like wearing black during the day, or wearing a hoodie, which... counts me out. (And everyone else in my city as well.) And only _then_ did I fully appreciate the name Muffy Aldrich for the brilliantly Dickensian nominative determinism it is.
posted by rdc at 1:59 PM on March 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


sadly, the sailboat carrying Muffy Eldrich dissapeared off Cape Ann on a stale aired April night when a never-before-seen phosphorescence was all aglow on the water
posted by bendybendy at 2:17 PM on March 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't know if it's worth bothering to clarify but. When I said "classist revulsion", the word classist is intended to describe the object, not the subject. I am revolted by classist behaviour. As exhibited, profusely, by Ms. Muffy Old Rich. I don't have a problem with Prep, except when being Prep means that you think that non-Prep is somehow inferior or undesirable.

For what it is worth, I cut my teeth in Massachusetts, and I know the Prep culture fairly well. It's not intrinsically capital E-evil, but it's very easy as a young preppy to be caught up thoroughly in its trappings of Father-Knows-Best patriarchy from which Prep as a subculture takes most of its social cues.

It's hard to be egalitarian when Father's been giving you stern directions and Mummy's been giving you heart-felt advice all your life about what's Prep (good) and what's not Prep (bad). It's possible, though I don't see much of it on the linked blog.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:23 PM on March 26, 2013


Or this could just be nice pictures from 1964.
posted by sageleaf at 2:30 PM on March 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


I hate rich people as much as the next broke jerk, but I aint gonna lie.
There is an allure to the lifestyle of old-school Cape Cod sailing rich folk that is mad potent.
I want to dress like these people and drink a Tom Collins on the deck of a nice WASP-ey sloop after spending a day on the links at Bushwood.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:32 PM on March 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


I just enjoyed the nice photos and appreciated their historical value.
posted by Renoroc at 2:34 PM on March 26, 2013


My family was never rich, but I grew up in Connecticut and used to ride my bike to the Southport Yacht Club. Thanks for the nostalgia hit.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 2:45 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cory Doctorow, time-traveling yachtsman.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:50 PM on March 26, 2013


My sister was up for jury duty once in a case where at stake were potentially millions of dollars for the founder of a start up company. In the voir dire, one of the questions concerned what kind of reaction did the proposed jury member had towards people whose incomes was six figures and better.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:56 PM on March 26, 2013


Thanks for sharing that. That is a great set of photos showing a privileged yet still rustic lifestyle that is long gone.
posted by zzazazz at 3:03 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


These are great pictures, thanks for sharing. Also, I found Peggy Olson and Ken Cosgrove. Must have been an SCDP compang outing.
posted by sweetkid at 3:09 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


That is a great set of photos showing a privileged yet still rustic lifestyle that is long gone.

I am a resident of Padanaram MA (I was wondering how long it would take for my little sailing oriented village to make it into a MeFi thread). And I can tell you that the lifestyle in question is very much alive and kicking, for some people anyway. But in my experience here you can't paint all sailing culture with one broad rich preppy brush. Yes, we have our fair share of Ms. Muffy Old Rich* out and about but we also have a lot of people who are just really into sailing. Many are emphatically not rich (and far from it I might add). They have arrived on the sailing scene from many different socioeconomic directions.

*She typically lives in a New England shingle-style "cottage" home that is quite beautiful in an understated--yes I am wealthy but I am not going to make a big fuss about it--kind of way.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 3:12 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh Metafilter and the Prep Trad Style blogs! Two great tastes that taste great together! I encourage everyone to check out Muffy's B-School style comparison of preppy companies and their lifecycle. For those who aspire to a fustier kind of old school, I recommend the Ask Andy About Clothes Trad Forum.

As a side note, I was once introduced into the secret decorder ring for Hard Core* Prep/WASP shopper: the advertising (if any) will be laughably bad, out of place or curiously tone-deaf. Like they only have two models for the catalog and and all the product shots have terrible lighting and it's impossible to find the actual product name, etc. If you see an ad for brown oxfords that makes you think for a second it might be parody or first year type-setting project accidentally released as a finished ad then you're halfway there.
posted by The Whelk at 3:12 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where're the beer guts?
posted by amanda at 3:15 PM on March 26, 2013


*She typically lives in a New England shingle-style "cottage" home that is quite beautiful in an understated--yes I am wealthy but I am not going to make a big fuss about it--kind of way.

Repeating a comment I made yesterday in another thread ...

"In L.A. they 'drive' their money. In New York they 'wear' their money. In New England they 'hide' their money."
posted by ericb at 3:23 PM on March 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


Rich people peel their own potatoes on rented sailboats, apparently.

According to this article, the cost to rent a windjammer in 1989 was $500/week... even taking inflation into account, that's doable for most folks in the middle class.
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:26 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Beer. Smirnoff Raw Tea is preferred here.
posted by ericb at 3:29 PM on March 26, 2013


Apart from the cars, Camden hasn't changed all that much.
posted by JanetLand at 3:57 PM on March 26, 2013


Are you suggesting that it is a lot cheaper to charter one of these yachts now than it was then?

Well, it's worth remembering that in 1964 the Great Fiberglass Yachtsplosion was just beginning. There were fewer boats to go around, fewer facilities, and if you knew how to sail at all it was because a) it was your job or b) you were in a yacht club. The activity had not been democratized yet.
posted by zjacreman at 4:03 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


if you knew how to sail at all it was because a) it was your job or b) you were in a yacht club.

That is just flat out wrong.
posted by yoink at 4:09 PM on March 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


The photos are not half bad, but I am indeed having a hard time setting down my classist revulsion.

Give it a shot - you'll live longer.
posted by Chutzler at 4:17 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


My own background was maybe a couple economic steps below this. My mother's side of the family was kinda-sorta up there; Grandpa was an MIT grad and founded the metalurgy department at UConn, and by the time I was around was enjoying his retirement in Marion, Mass., just near the Cape. My uncle and his family lived nearby, and he also was doing pretty well for a while (he ran this massively popular local amusement park thing). So we went to visit them all a lot; every major holiday and a couple weeks in the summer. My cousins even went to the private school in Marion for a while.

My grandparents had a speedboat rather than a yacht; they docked it at the pier across from my aunt and uncle, who also had a boat, but theirs was a decommissioned research vessel. But yeah, every time we went for a visit, we went out on the boat - and yep, all of our gear was duly packed in those canvas tote bags. They're ubiquitous.

A lot of the scenery she shows is absolutely how I remember so much of where I grew up - the cottages and shacks on the beach, the towns with town greens and cutesy tea rooms, the little villages around a harbor filled with boats... I can't tell you how many times I was staying at my uncle's house and was lulled to sleep by the persistent clink of the sailboats' lines hitting their masts as the waves rocked them again and again.

And a lot of the people in the town dressed just like that. Very much "put together," but non-fussy - very, very practical. It made no sense to have heels on if you were potentially going out on a boat at any minute, and flip-flops also wouldn't be practical enough protection from the googe you could run into on a boat either. (But there was also the subtext that "flip-flops also look kinda tacky, anyway.")

I never really bought into the whole status-symbol aspiration of all that - my father's family was more Swamp Yankee and I got that "feh, I'm gonna wear whatever I feel like" sensibility from him. But I have to admit, stuff like this and this are actually making me a little homesick.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:21 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


My cousins even went to the private school in Marion for a while.

Tabor Academy has a great sailing program, as do many other public and private schools throughout New England. Most of these schools belong to the New England Schools Sailing Association (NESSA)
posted by ericb at 4:49 PM on March 26, 2013


I just want to know how I can get my hair to look like that. Not the color, but the style. What crazy headband technology is she using to keep things under control? Or is it just vast amounts of salt spray?
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:19 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


how can I get my hair to look like that

This has all the earmarks of a 'wet set'. She set her hair in medium sized rollers while it was still wet (or, she used a setting solution like Dippity Do) then slept on them for 6-8 hours. The front and the curls themselves stay close to the head because she didn't use a hair dryer at any point (this is key). The front, which was also combed into place while wet, was allowed to dry naturally but without the use of any rollers. There was a kind of tape used back in the day to keep bangs in place while sleeping. This might have been used to keep the front controlled in such a deep side part (others slept in tight scarves to get the same result). A product like pomade, more setting solution or hairspray would be used on the front in the morning. And, she didn't brush her hair when she took it out of the rollers as that would un-do the 'do'. If the band was made of ribbon some bobby pins placed strategically underneath helped keep everything in place. But I'm told (by my mom!) that double sided tape was used on the underside of headbands 'all the time' to keep things from slipping.
posted by marimeko at 6:11 PM on March 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'm teaching on one of those Maine windjammers this summer! No lie! My hair, however, will absolutely not look that awesome, which is a pity.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:15 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sailing a windjammer in 1964, whether or not you rented it, was absolutely the province of the wealthy.

Your evidence for this assertion is ... what, exactly?

There was less income inequality in 1964 than there is today. Many people had more vacation time in 1964 than they do today. There were people supporting their whole goddamn families on single incomes in 1964.

Taking a vacation — just in general, whether sailing or something else — was a lot more attainable of a goal in 1964 than it is today for an average worker, particularly one in New England where industrial jobs have all but disappeared, so if a charter-boat holiday isn't the province of the 1% today I see no reason why it necessarily was in 1964.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:22 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey, it could easily have also been a ONE DAY charter for friends and family who lived in Camden. A company affair. A church group.
posted by ericb at 6:37 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


. . . But I'm told (by my mom!) that double sided tape was used on the underside of headbands 'all the time' to keep things from slipping.

My mom often told me about the hair contrivances required of girls and women before about 1970 as a way of letting me know just how much better we have it these days. (And also to make me comb my hair, because I let it get pretty feral.)

Mixed emotions about the pictures. I did go far away to a New England boarding school, and I recognize here the kind of people who made my fists itch. The guys look more familiar than the girls, because by my time the girls were all wearing much sportier, fleecier outfits, and no rollers were involved whatsoever. But my memories of the "preps," as such, are only memories of the kids I didn't like anyway. The kids from this background that I liked weren't stereotypes to me, just themselves. If I had known these people, they might not be stereotypes to me either.

I was very lucky myself, to be honest. I got to do some sailing and spend some time on yachts. I loved it, in the way you love something best when you've already finished it and are clean and rested. If I ever won the Powerball, I'd consider purchasing a yacht named the Innsmouth Electron and taking friends out for whale-watching jaunts, but as it is, I don't want to spend time in the shower in a raincoat tearing up money.

I can't decide if "plenty of he-ing and she-ing" is an adorable dadly turn of phrase or completely insufferable, but I think I like it regardless.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:40 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh my god this is my new favorite website.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:44 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


so if a charter-boat holiday isn't the province of the 1% today I see no reason why it necessarily was in 1964

The concept of "rich" has changed a lot over the years. Go ask anybody over the age of 70 if they ever heard of a middle/working class family chartering a yacht.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:45 PM on March 26, 2013



Hey, it could easily have also been a ONE DAY charter for friends and family who lived in Camden. A company affair. A church group.

Yes. For those with their nantucket-red LL Bean shorts under torsion, these are excursion boats. Commercial vessels. They cruise up and down Midcoast Maine all summer with a different group of passengers each trip. Usually one, three or six day nights aboard.

They are not personal 'yachts'. These people do not own these boats, nor have they rented or chartered them. They have 'booked passage' aboard them, as, like part of a vacation. Then as now, a bit expensive, but not if that's what you really want to do, and probably quite a bit less than booking on a modern cruise ship. You get a tiny cabin and the privilege of occasionally hauling on a rope under direction of the captain or mate. They actually need the help because they are deliberately under-manned.

It's perfectly possible the people in the photos are well-off, but it's by no means a requirement.

I do wish they'd stop calling them windjammers*, though.

* A meaningless, ahistorical term when applied to these vessels.
posted by Herodios at 7:09 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


"The concept of "rich" has changed a lot over the years. Go ask anybody over the age of 70 if they ever heard of a middle/working class family chartering a yacht."

Totally doable today, and probably then, but most people don't think of it. For the same price of five days in Disneyland you can charter a boat.

I used to assume that people who sailed were snobs. Then a friend of mine joined a yacht club here in Montana and I started sailing. The yacht club members are great people and most aren't rich. They choose to spend the same money on a boat that other friends spend on snowmobiles or skiing 30 days a year.

I was recently sailing in Mexico on a friend of a friend's J24. The boat was bought for $3000 in Montana and is at a slip in Mexico for $80 a month slip fees.

Next year we are planning on chartering a cataraman in the BVI. For two weeks, the cost of a boat rental will be about $800 for a couple. That's cheaper than lodging and a heck of a ot more fun.
posted by ITravelMontana at 7:09 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


*snerk* I've just realized.

Years ago, when my cousin was still going to Tabor, she gave me an Official Tabor Academy red flannel nightgown for Christmas. It was just a red flannel nightgown with the Tabor Academy seal on it on a patch.

I still have, and use, the thing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:12 PM on March 26, 2013


I think this might help shed light on the whole "Were they rich?" question.

I ride two or three times a week myself, and am in the tax bracket that would imply. I don't mind Muffy Aldrich being rich. I mind it when she seems to think that makes her better than people who aren't.
posted by rdc at 7:29 PM on March 26, 2013


money and America. it raises as many issues as race. the big thing that has changed in the last 20 years is that it's now easier for the super rich to hang on to their super riches, and pass them on to their heirs, which feels as if it's leading us towards a more old world society, with inherited wealth and position - which makes me think of my economics professor's notion of those with a high pre-natal IQ - smart enough to be born in to the right family. the American sense of egalitarianism is being upended as opportunities are not evenly distributed. still - if there are more opportunities in America than elsewhere, America will continue to skim the cream of the planet.
posted by TMezz at 7:49 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Daily Prep by Muffy? Really?
On the other hand, her pops was one hell of a photographer.
posted by caddis at 8:07 PM on March 26, 2013


Go ask anybody over the age of 70 if they ever heard of a middle/working class family chartering a yacht.

My grandparents have passed on, but they would have singled out my folks, a low-level engineer and an RN in the '70s.

Now in his '60s, my Dad tried to rekindle some of that magic with a "sail cruise" up along the Maine coast. I think he's still trying to make it up to my Mom.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:09 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


incessant; please take your class warfare somewhere else.

I didn't pass any value judgments -- all I said was that it was likely the people in the photos were well-off. Whether or not I am right (and a lot of people seem to feel I'm not and apparently are far more invested than me in not inferring that Muffy and her family come from wealth, for reasons unknown), I never suggested that money would make them any better or worse than someone without.
posted by incessant at 8:54 PM on March 26, 2013


Oh my God, I had no idea that sailing was an activity that incited such disdain, revulsion and even hatred. How dare these people power their recreation by wind power?

What a lovely set of pictures.
posted by Authorized User at 9:39 PM on March 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


The photos are great; sailing looks like fun.

Grown women with names like Muffy and Bitsy in this day and age?
*snort*
posted by BlueHorse at 10:14 PM on March 26, 2013


Yes those are names are so ridiculous! These people should definitely change their names to fit your notion of contemporary names.
posted by Authorized User at 11:12 PM on March 26, 2013


Yacht clubs are not the exclusive province of the rich now. Old fiberglass boats can be bought for pittances now. I live on a 1975 Dufour that I bought for a pittance. I'd have to dig out the original dealer receipt for specifics - I think I have it - but it cost as much as a small house, when it was new.

In 1964, when fiberglass and plywood were just getting started as boatbuilding materials (think carbon fiber today) and most boats were still built by hand, out of wood, the sport was much less accessible. Poor people didn't hang out at yacht clubs. The snobby stereotype exists for a reason. Older books on long-term cruising assume nearly unlimited funds. You still don't see very many minority sailors at regattas. It was an exclusive culture. My experience at some clubs suggests that money still equates to status in unsettling ways, even now.

It wasn't until the later '60s and the 1970s sailing was popularized. There was a confluence of factors: popularity/awareness of the sport brought on by high-profile sailing events (like Francis Chichester going around the world solo in '67), DIY plywood dinghy plans that just about anyone could afford to build for lake sailing, and a market flood of mass-produced, small-to-medium-sized fiberglass yachts that were within reach of the middle class (which is why I can afford to own a boat now). There was a massive shift in the technology and culture of sailing.

And there was resistance, too, as there always is. A lot of the blue bloods didn't like these clueless newbies in their plastic boats hanging out at their clubs. Think Eternal September. But there were a lot more of the newbies, and numbers usually win, and cultural shifts always seem inevitable after the fact.

OK, sure, there were probably some sailors in the early '60s who weren't loaded or working. But the numbers of boats and recreational sailors shot way way up in the years to follow. This isn't some radical theory of nautical history I'm propounding here.
posted by zjacreman at 11:39 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was expecting these to actually look like a magazine spread and was surprised to see so many middle-aged ladies with normal middle-aged-lady figures.
posted by subdee at 12:21 AM on March 27, 2013


Very cool, thanks. This brings back many happy memories. Although I wasn't around in the 60s, wooden ships haven't changed much in the intervening years. Honestly these pictures could have been taken of me and my friends three years ago rather than the blogger's father 50 years ago and they'd hardly look different.
posted by atrazine at 2:14 AM on March 27, 2013


And there was resistance, too, as there always is. A lot of the blue bloods didn't like these clueless newbies in their plastic boats hanging out at their clubs. Think Eternal September. But there were a lot more of the newbies, and numbers usually win, and cultural shifts always seem inevitable after the fact.

While it is nice to build a narrative of every-man sailors upending the aristocratic yacht clubbers who didn't even really sail (presumably this is why you referred to their pale skin), in reality there had been for a long time a concerted effort to make sailing more accessible. One-design classes like Hai, International One Design and Folkboat were specifically designed to be an affordable way to sail and it's notable that many of these were deliberate top-down efforts by yacht clubs and sailing associations.

As far as I can tell, sailing pretty much followed the trend of all recreational activities becoming more widespread during the 20th century as standards of living rose and people had both spare time and income. The shift caused by new technology in the 1960s was just as prevalent in many other recreational activities.
posted by Authorized User at 2:52 AM on March 27, 2013


They don't look cool to me. They look like they are trying very, very hard.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 3:34 AM on March 27, 2013


Yachting in the early 1960's was not about being rich. That's completely wrong, and I know because I was there, yachting. Woop de fucking do. My parents had friends that owned a sailing yacht. Those folks weren't rich. They lived in a little old house and drove old cars and lived to go sailing. He managed a service department for an AMC dealer (in a GM town!). She, like my mother, was a church organist and bank teller. Just folks.

True, this wasn't New England. We had the good fortune of being in Michigan, with those wonderful Great Lakes. Nice sailing!
posted by Goofyy at 5:21 AM on March 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


In 1964, when fiberglass and plywood were just getting started as boatbuilding materials (think carbon fiber today) and most boats were still built by hand, out of wood, the sport was much less accessible.

Umm, no. You can clearly tell those ships were working boats, not yachts - retired packet ships, probably. There were a lot of commercial wooden craft still seaworthy in the '50s and '60s, despite being replaced by steel hulled steamers, and some of them, like these, were repurposed as recreational rentals.

These were wooden ships, remember - nothing to sell to the scrapyard apart from some bronze fixtures that weren't worth the money to remove, so in many cases they were left to rot. Some were rescued by enthusiasts, self-taught craftsmen for the most part, and these guys generally weren't rich - their goal was to eke out a modest living going down to the sea in ships, hauling tourists around the Down East. Wooden Boat Magazine (the most beautiful print magazine on the stands) will sometimes have biographies of these restoration pioneers.

While these vacationers in the photos may have been well-to-do, they were on a middle class kind of vacation.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:58 AM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


i love reading snarky comments on metafilter. so i was disappointed that a community that tackles men who marry imaginary cartoon characters with verve can only muster the most obvious responses to this display of New England wealthy prep culture.

"they're rich" is about as insightful as "they're nerds." (yes, but what kind of nerds? "family, genus, species," please.)

i grew up in New York City but went to college in a bastion of the prep culture. it is a particular stance against the modern, against fashion, against change of any kind – but, of course, thoroughly modern, amenable to fashion if introduced via the right channels and constantly changing because the world itself changes.

in short, a kind of secular religion –which uses religion as one of its markers rather than its core.
posted by noway at 7:02 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


In 1964, when fiberglass and plywood were just getting started as boatbuilding materials (think carbon fiber today) and most boats were still built by hand, out of wood, the sport was much less accessible. Poor people didn't hang out at yacht clubs. The snobby stereotype exists for a reason. Older books on long-term cruising assume nearly unlimited funds. You still don't see very many minority sailors at regattas. It was an exclusive culture.

Long term cruising is, of course, an exclusive preserve of the relatively well-to-do; what is shown in these photographs is not long term cruising, however, so that is a red herring. In the early and mid 1960s my dad was a junior academic with no inherited wealth, a modest middle-class salary, a mortgage and four kids. He sailed regularly--pretty much every weekend in racing season. How? He crewed yachts owned by much richer people. His fellow crew mates were garage mechanics, school teachers, low-level government employees etc. etc. Yeah, there were rich people in the yacht club who liked everyone to know they were rich but you are just wrong as a simple matter of fact that the sport was exclusively available to the rich. If you lived near the sea in a place with a real sailing culture it just was not that hard to find a way to learn to sail--and most local yacht racing communities are usually pretty hungry for reasonably competent crew.
posted by yoink at 7:32 AM on March 27, 2013


I've been looking back through the rest of the blog, and something else hit me - I dressed like this a lot when I was younger - not out of any aspirational class thing, but more because this was pretty much how everyone dressed where I grew up, in terms of outfit choice. The only way that your income affected your fashion choices was, it determined whether you got your khaki pants from L.L. Bean or from JC Penny, and whether you wore t-shirts in public. But yeah; madras-print shorts, sweaters over plaid flannel shirts, navy blue sweaters over oxford shirts, barn jackets...that's practically a coastal/rural New England uniform.

I was still dressing like that through the first couple years I was in college, and the guy who was my first-ever boyfriend during my freshman year later confessed that my fashion sense was part of why he was attracted to me - he'd been to a prep school in Boston, and was feeling a little homesick, and then here I came looking like all the girls he'd been to high school with!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:34 AM on March 27, 2013


I... I assumed Muffy Aldrich was some kind of ironic sarcasm. How could I have been so wrong?
posted by Justinian at 9:08 AM on March 27, 2013


My family has been in New England since the turn of the 20th century. Most of us lived inland. You could still get jobs because there were still factories. My family never had much to do with boats other than building them - my great-grandpa, who lived in Maine, worked at a shipyard. I've always read the New England prep style as a regional cliche.

Of course, it doesn't make me sympathetic when the people who dressed like that, when I was growing up (born '88), were the people who would have called me trash for living in an apartment by the main drag. When I dressed in collared shirts, people would tell me I couldn't pull off the look, that I shouldn't have bothered. I wasn't trying to look to like them. I just didn't like T-shirts.

Where I lived, it was an aspirational class thing, and even young people enforced the rules.

All that said, this is a good collection of pictures, and I'm glad you posted it, maiamaia. I don't mind the ridiculousness of the blog around it.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:08 AM on March 27, 2013


Maybe I'm just a big snob myself but I don't see anything so very strange about the name Muffy. Sure, it has that whiff of upper class New Englandyness but do people really think people like that don't exist?
posted by sweetkid at 9:15 AM on March 27, 2013


I mentioned this post to my wife, whose family is of that WASPy New England stock where everyone has the same three names and everyone goes by nicknames, and even she didn't believe that the person was really named Muffy until I mentioned that she seemed older. I think it's just a name that's fallen out of favor even among the class of people for whom it was ever popular.

I also think the mere act of writing a blog about preppiness suggests a self-consciousness that makes Muffy seem like a nom de plume. Real WASPs don't have to ask themselves "what do I wear with my Nantucket Reds" they just wear them; rules are for people who aren't already in the club.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:21 AM on March 27, 2013


Rustric Etruscan, you just made a penny drop even further for me: 1988 was when I was in high school, and so I just realized that maybe the biggest reason I dressed like this or this was because I didn't want to dress like this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:04 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


... but do people really think people like that don't exist?

Yes. When I moved to New England I was repeatedly surprised by the things and people I saw, where I thought "My god, people actually do this? I thought it was something made up by Hollywood."
posted by benito.strauss at 10:28 AM on March 27, 2013


Oh my. Muffy Aldrich's "The Daily Prep" blog is fascinating reading. But you may need a jumbo 24oz cotton canvas tote with madras lining and belting quality full-grain leather handles to hold all the dichotomies you'll carry away: Rigorous examination vs. sunshine-sheer vapidity; Sensibly anti-fashion thrift vs. naked class snobbery; veering toward fetishistic embrace of Authenticity vs. the contributions of one "Paul Connors," who please tell me cannot be a real person as his dressing down of a 20-something Brooks Brother's employee is some straight-up satire right out of The Onion.

Thanks for posting, maiamaia.
posted by applemeat at 1:21 PM on March 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


In the interest of truth: My last comment ignores things for which I could also have been mocked at the time. I was clumsy, weak, ugly, pedantic, prudish, and inarticulate. I also had no sense of humor. So there was plenty to sneer at besides cheap shirts with warped collars.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:26 PM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


How can this Paul Connors commenter not be satire? Here's his over-the-top response to Muffy Aldrich's super innocuous reader poll on permanent press shirt fabrics- yea or nay. Christ. Ed Anger has more subtlety.
posted by applemeat at 7:16 PM on March 27, 2013


How can this Paul Connors commenter not be satire? Here's his over-the-top response to Muffy Aldrich's super innocuous reader poll on permanent press shirt fabrics- yea or nay.

The thing that convinces me that he's some kind of satire is actually not that it's over the top, it's that it's over the top in a completely different way that the other comment. The guy that refuses to be served by someone because they're wearing the wrong line of Brooks Brothers suit doesn't tolerate non-iron fabrics. A less traditional fabric that doesn't breath as well* AND deprives you of the simple joys of ironing**? No way that Mr. Snooty Snoot Pants from the first comment tolerates that.

*This is an article of faith in the world of menswear fora, I wear non-iron shirts pretty much exclusively and have never noticed it.
**These people fucking love ironing.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:09 AM on March 28, 2013


Actually, i was kind of apologizing for my being 'oh, they're rich' revulsion thing, not against them, but because maybe in admiring it i'm just admiring their money or some other form of jealousy - admiring or resenting their money is just positive or negative jealousy, right? Also, income-wise, i am in the bottom 0.5% (literally) of the UK, so for me, they're rich - but i'm aware they're hardlly billionaires now i think about it! Thanks for pointing it out. But i kind of meant, i think the photographs, despite being amateur, are so good that they give you that fake nostalgia for something you never had that Bruce Sprinsteen and preppy clothes sell (not equating them!). They are so good, they undermine my superficial snideness, i think they are anyway.
posted by maiamaia at 8:36 AM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


or to put my income another way, most cruises cost more than i earn most years. So i guess i'm not being too way-out in calling them rich. But i did think my reaction was a bit superficial - it's just inverse snobbery, exacerbated by reading The Society of the Spectacle! It's no more intellectual than vanilla snobbery, yet some part of me acts like it thinks it is.
posted by maiamaia at 8:43 AM on March 31, 2013


Also i should add, that in UK the whole prep-style thing is just something you see on telly, i thought they were rich cos they were dressed like jacky-o & she was rich...i can't decode your class system! i mean preppy = i want to look rich, not i am rich, i guess?
posted by maiamaia at 8:51 AM on March 31, 2013


Preps don't want to look rich. Flaunting your money is decidedly not preppy. It's about quality, not quantity.

But yeah, they are rich, by most standards. Private school for the teenagers unless they live somewhere with amazing public schools (and the property taxes to support them), they're white, the family has been in this country a long time (preferably since before it was a country), most of them work but also have inherited wealth. Some of them might have horses. Some might have family camps, which are summer cottages, larger than my house, on a lake or a beach, which are of unclear ownership and have been in the family for a few generations. But some might be from a preppy part of the country and dress in an understated way and have a fondness for whale motifs but not actually be diving into vaults of cash.

fake nostalgia for something you never had that Bruce Sprinsteen and preppy clothes sell (not equating them!).

Bruce Springsteen, while perfectly fine for preps to listen to, is about working class America, not preppy America. The preps are more likely to be from the family that owned the mill that shut down; Springsteen's characters would have worked in the mills at an hourly rate.

(All this is off the top of my head, and I don't consider myself preppy, but I went to prep school in Massachusetts -- one Muffy likes the campus of -- and thus speak with some knowledge. Plus I'm wearing a shirt from L.L. Bean right now, I just realized. Help, I'm preppier than I thought.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:53 AM on March 31, 2013


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