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December 26, 2006



That would explain why I have failed to find any kid matching your description in the front steps photographs from that event. Lots of checkered pants and remnant sideburns in evidence, however (notably your father's and mine).


Alas, I was the one member of our generation who also was not present at Margie's 75th, having begun at Lawrenceville that weekend. A big regret.


Uncle Archie wrote with surpassing wit and humor, by turns self deprecating and outrageous, but most of all devotedly to his distant family. His involvement with The Council on Books in Wartime provided hundreds of thousands of copies of books for soldiers specially published in paperback, and you are quite right, his association with Ayn Rand and the Fountainhead was his crowning editorial achievement. Gar memorialized his younger accomplishments, as with al of her offspring and other more distant relations, in her scrapbooks.

He was planning to come across the Pond to be part of Margie's 75th celebration in 1980 - at which we all were present - but fell ill to throat cancer and died shortly thereafter. Despite his talents, I believe he suffered from depression as well as alcoholism, and was disappointed in himself. Aunty Betty's letters to Gran after his death allude to as much. For these reasons, I approach this material with care. Turning over stones provides more complicated looks at the whole. I shall certainly look forward to conversations with Uncle Ned, Neeltjie, etc.


GMT, I would welcome being part of such conversations, although I'd mostly be a listener, as most of what I know of family lore is oriented towards this side of the family, where the folklore is dominated by my great grandmother Marion H., a bitter southern widow in the Faulknerian tradition. Uncle Ned and Neeljie would have more light to shed on Ogden matters and should be cultivated. (Of course your parenthetical heads off the most obvious topic of further discussion on that front but I've heard a thing or two about that.)

I haven't read any of Uncle Archie's letters but my father loved him and spoke of him often. I met him only once in London in 1976. Aunt Betty was a Pinkerton and her family homestead is only about 20 miles from where I type, south of Charlottesville. I'll be down in Buckingham next weekend and I'll see what I can find in the archives on Uncle A. It's quite possible there is a correspondance with Ganny that might be of interest to you.

You probably know this already, but the collected letters of Ayn Rand features a number of letters from Rand to Archie which cast very interesting light on him and his career. His involvement in the publication of The Fountainhead elevates his life's impact well beyond our humble family. If you haven't seen these you should definitely check them out. (amazon link below)



CV, thanks so much for adding to the evidence of our archive with these recollections! With the oldest generation nearly gone, the keepers of the oldest stories are a generation further removed from eyewitness accounts. Still, we all remember such extraordinary detail, and fine storytellers abound in our ranks. I'd love to expand this conversation on certain points of family legend with more of our cousins and various Aunts and Uncles and see what new data, if not clarity, emerges. Proposals for suitable topics for familial investigation are most welcome, (though I doubt we'll ever solve the riddle of the true nature of the beaus of our maiden Aunts).

It may also interest you to know, since we are on the topic of lovable lushes, that I've had in mind collecting and editing the many treasured "Uncle Archie" letters at Windrock and making these available to the broader family and perhaps beyond. Doubtless there is a similar trove at Indian Gap and in New Canaan (I'm not at all sure what became of Margie's non-genealogical correspondence), not to mention in Swarthmore and the V.I. The letter he sent to my parents acknowledging my birth is quintessential Archie - recounting in great detail all those reprobates, forgers, cutpurses and pretenders to various thrones who once bore the various parts of my name.

I never had the chance to meet him but feel as if I've known him all my life. A glorious, scandelous, devoted clown, and a sad one. A man of letters whose book of walks and pub crawls was de rigeur for a generation of our family when sojourning in London. A man who delighted in shocking the sensibilities of his sisters but who would give his last farthing (and it often was his last) to help them in any way he could. I may not be the best biographer for him, but believe his letters and the complex man behind them need to be more widely read and that I can find a sensitive and objective way to present them. I'll have a chance to pick them up in a few weeks when we gather for Gran's 96th birthday at Windrock. The other big project is tackling the WWII correspondence of my Grandparents, but that is a project of years rather than months.


GMT, thanks for these great family posts. Keep 'em coming!

I can certainly confirm that prohibition did little to impact liquor consumption on our side of the family. Ganny and Pop, married during those dark days of prohibition, had their wedding reception at the Ogden home in Elizabeth. It was apparently a raucous affair, only one had to ascend to the attic, possibly challenged for a password to gain access, in order to get a drink. To this day, the bar ware at Indian Gap is largely made up of EOG monogramed highballs and old fashions, which presumably were presented in connection with that event.

Some years back, in amongst old bottles in the bar I chanced upon Pop's bartender guide from the 20s and 30s. Folded in its pages are numerous handwritten notes and recipes for various kinds of punch, which were popular during prohibition most likely to mask the harsh taste of "locally" distilled spirits. Bombay Saphire it wasn't.

Ganny's tales of their "gay" parties back before my father was born in 1935 were hilarious and I wish I could remember more of them. I do recall laughing at her memory of when one of their close friends, who had been passed out on their floor, suddenly sat up and said:

"He is not drunk who from the floor, rises up to drink some more. He is drunk who prostrate lies, cannot drink and cannot rise."

It seems even the inebriated kept the lyrical tradition alive in the Ogden family.

Later, after prohibition ended, she said their dinner parties at 27 West 67th Street in New York always began with a drink in the living room. A waiter would walk through the room with a tray of cocktail glasses and you could have your choice of a Martini or a Manhattan, and that was it.

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