A draught of diminutives? On

A draught of diminutives?

On Saturday night, Kate and I helped out Kate’s mom at the Chester County Historical Society‘s gala fund raiser. There are fund-raisers and fund-raisers, depending on the organization’s priorities; some raise money, some break even, some lose money in a magnificent welter of rented bathroom trailers and high-pole tents that contain entire trees. This fund-raiser, held in a palatial compound of heated and interconnected white tents, seemed to be of the latter variety.*

In the morning, Kate and I helped arrange antiques and jewelry at one of the silent auction tables, together with Kate’s mom Barb and any number of other volunteers, all of whom turned out to have diminutives on their names — Sandy, Terry, Jackie, Valerie, Peggy, Nancy… even Wiggie. Chester county is pretty down-to-earth, though, so as much as I’d like to stretch this into a story about “My experience among the dowager empresses of Philadelphia Society”, it’s really more like “My experience among the affluent volunteers of Chester County, some of whom had really funny stories about my grandfather**“, which is infinitely better.

So I got to wear a tux that night, and Kate and I got to dance on the slanted dance floor — at the beginning of every dance, the crowd would clamber to the top of the hill, then end up at the bottom at the conclusion of every song. It was a good time.

* This was not, however, as extravagant as the benefits for the Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia, for which I helped arrange thousands of yards of taffeta to hide a whole bank of elevators in a rented warehouse. That organization was serious about losing money at their fund-raisers.

** Margie Grafton (there’s that diminutive again!) lived in a big stone house named “Grimett”, the next driveway down from my grandfather’s house, Arrandale. This was out in the country, and dark as pitch at night. Margie was having a fancy-dress party for her sorority sisters, all of whom were to come dressed as the year of their initiation. The party got lost on the way to Grimett, and all the cars showed up at my grandfather’s door. Always one to rise to the occasion, he came down the stairs in a smoking jacket, received all the women, served them cocktails, and wouldn’t reveal that they weren’t in the right place. Until they started asking if Margie was upstairs, and he asked politely, “Margie who?”

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