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Their Families Abroad, Clubmen Make Trips To The Summer Clubs: 1886

It is a matter of general comment in the clubs that the Summer attendance has been larger this year than ever before. This is probably due to the fact that there are so many families traveling abroad this Summer, the heads of which take their meals at the clubs. When their households are open they are seldom to be seen in their clubs except in the evening and on special occasions. There is always a large percentage of this class of members who resort to the club in the Summer months. They maintain the average of business in the cafe and restaurant, supplied at other seasons by the habitués, who are generally income men and absentees in the Summer on yachts or tours. There has been a regular attendance through the Summer at the Union League and the Manhattan that has been surprising.

None of the seashore resorts or rural retreats can offer a menu tempting to a clubman, the novelty of the excursion having gone by the repetition of past seasons. As a rule the caterers of the clubs purchase the best the market affords. The chef thoroughly understands the individual tastes of his patrons, and generally there is a cool breeze to be secured in the commodious and well ventilated dining rooms. At the Manhattan and the University Club the members can dine al fresco on their piazzas, at the former overlooking a pleasant little garden, and the latter with Madison-square as an annex. The dining room at the Union League is on the top floor, and the situation always commands a breeze.

How much pleasanter this is than dining with unsatisfactorily, if not indifferently, served meals at one of the suburban or seashore caravansaries, with their bustling and heterogeneous crowds so distasteful and aggravating to a man of the world, the dust of the drive equaling the discomfort of the train, now that the novelty of the trip and scenery no longer interests and attracts. It may be surmised that the clubman is churlish and gouty and hard to please, especially as the change of air and scene and the breezes should compensate him for any disappointment to his palate or for any personal inconvenience, but the opicure and it must be frankly confessed that all club diners soon become such can never be happy unless he dines well. It is noticeable that the younger members are inclined to follow in this respect the elders, and they cannot be declared old or grumpy. All the principal clubhouses are so pleasantly situated on corners, and rise above the adjacent buildings, that with care exercised by the attendants to properly adjust the awnings and the Summer dress of the furniture and floor the retreat is very pleasant as far as personal comfort is concerned. There is always of course a "lighting out" on Saturday, as many clubmen go out of town to spend Sunday; some to visit their families, if they are not across the ocean, others as guests at country residences, and still others to go to their "Summer" clubs.

The favorite resort of the members of the Union is the Tuxedo Club, which occupies the royal domain formerly belonging to Mr. Lorillard in New Jersey, a few hours ride. The rules of the organization, however, only admit a privileged few. There is always a crowd from the city to pass Sunday at the Olympic Club, at Bayshore, Long Island, lounging in the umbrageous shade of its lawn or sailing on the Bay in the several boats belonging to the institution. The new buildings here afford dormitory accommodation for 40 out of the 70 members, and when there is such a crowd that there are not enough hammocks for all, or the capacity of the craft is overtaxed, there is abundance of pastime in the Casino for those who do not care to roam about or drive to Islip or Babylon or Sayville.

Before Jesse Conkling's famous hostelry on the island was destroyed by fire one cold Winter's morning the members of the Wawayanda got their meals by contract there, but now they have their own kitchen and cook, and the fish they catch are cooked as they come fresh from their native water. The members have led a truly idyllic fisherman's existence. There is nothing to do but fish, except to sit ashore and play dominos or checkers or tell stories; not always fish stories by any means. Some go visiting in the club boat to Fire island, Babylon, Islip, or the Olympic. The Olympic which by the way was founded many years ago on the sands of the Jersey coast and the Wawayanda draw their membership from all the city clubs, but principally from the New York Yacht Club, the Lotos, and the Lambs. It is said that the members of the Land and Water Club that started under such favorable auspices would never have disbanded if it had been supposed that the Long Island Railroad would erect a station which will be so convenient of access to them. That long drive from the train was the cause of the early decline of the club and its subsequent abandonment.

Truly, between his city and country club, the member is to blame himself if he cannot enjoy his leisure and the goods of this life. It may be that in the city rigid house rules will prevent his having his friends about him unless he chooses the seclusion of a private dining room, the very term is objectionable in sultry weather but in the "Summer club" he can take his friends along and entertain them the same as if he were in his own home by paying the prescribed fees. The fee charged for board and lodging (the extras being the same as ordinary) is about half the hotel prices and even less. It may be stated that the member's dues pay for his board and lodging, and if he passes much of his time at the club he gets the full amount of his investment and more; but few of the members seldom stay more than a day or two at a time. If they all availed themselves of the privilege of stopping the Summer through it is needless to say the club would be bankrupt.

A popular resort of club men for dining parties and over Sunday is the pleasant clubhouse of the Larchmont Yacht Club, which, situated in a grove within a stone's throw of the water, combines the charms of the country and the shore. It is whispered that the members of the New York Yacht Club miss their old Summer quarters at Tompkinsville, Staten Island, as a dining resort on warm evenings, and that the American Steam Yacht Club is determined that another season shall not roll by without having the much talked of clubhouse on the Sound, about Mamaroneck or Sand's Point. One of the pleasantest Summer clubs is that of the Greenwood Lake Association, a piscatorial club of renown and years. An ideal villa clubhouse rises from the water's edge on a grassy embankment, and affords the occupants city comforts, even to gas. Nothing but healthful breezes and good cheer can reach one in such a retreat, albeit the locomotive puffs opposite on the other shore, anxious to speed away to the bustling city. There has been a good attendance all through the season at the Bloomingdale Club, whose streams offer so much temptation to the augler, whose spacious forests abound with game. There are several other Summer clubs, but those that we have mentioned are frequented by city club men almost, we may say exclusively that is all the members belong to local clubs. It may be proper to mention en passant the several dining clubs that have been formed by coteries in the Manhattan, Union, and New York Clubs at one of the Coney Island hotels for the personal convenience of the subscribers when they go there. One of these Coney Island clubs, the Sea Beach is entirely a Summer club, organized for dining purposes, and consisting chiefly of members of the Produce Exchange. It may be proper also to add in this connection that the rooms of the Coney Island Jockey Club, which largely draws its membership from the Union, the New York, the Athletic, the Knickerbocker and the Lotos, are crowded by city men for dinner after the races, but little frequented at other times.

The Summer clubs are a peculiarly American institution, and the convenience they are proving to their members, especially to the temporarily detached or liberated family man, will undoubtedly insure their success and popularity. It is contemplated to keep the Tuxedo open through the Winter, while the fires on the spacious hearthstone at the Bloomingdale draw crowds when the bear is abroad and the snow furnishes tracks that are not to be seen in the bloom of the Summer.

The Union Club is renovating its spacious reading room on the first floor. The Lotos has redecorated its billiard and dining rooms. The Manhattan Club contemplates adding a portrait of the late Gov. Seymour to its historic collection of deceased Democratic statesmen. The University has abandoned, for this year at least, all idea of removing to the avenue, providing they are able to get rid of their lease.

Article Information:
Article Name: Their Families Abroad, Clubmen Make Trips To The Summer Clubs: 1886
Website: http:www.thehistorybox.com |Researcher/Transcriber:    Miriam Medina
Source:     New York Times September 5, 1886. p.4 (1 page)
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