Thursday, May 7, 2009


Whew! I’ve finished the book on Jekyll Island: Splendid Isolation! At least the first draft, which is now in the hands of my editor. That has kept me so busy I’ve neglected my BLOGS, for which I apologize.

So, rather than asking questions about the Gilded Age, Great Depression, etc. to my BLOG readers, I would like to share with you a small section of the Jekyll Island story. Hopefully, this will whet your appetite for the book to come!

None of the Millionaires escaped the scathing editorials in Mr. Pulitzer’s newspapers, and all reluctantly admitted that there was some truth to them. Nevertheless, they respected Mr. Pulitzer’s keen mind and even more, his integrity. Joseph Pulitzer also provided entertaining comments at any social event, and was known to be charming if he wanted to be. Club President Lanier decided to seat him next to the guest of honor, Andrew Carnegie.

“Are you enjoying your stay at the Dungeness with Miss Lucy?” asked Mr. Pulitzer, gingerly spooning small portions of steaming squash soup into his mouth. He had heard occasional rumors from other members that Andrew Carnegie and his sister-in-law Lucy did not get on very well.

“Not particularly Sir,” Andrew replied with a grin and a shrug. “Print that if you like.”

“Not a bad idea.” Mr. Pulitzer offered him a sly smile. “This seems to be a slow news week. Perhaps I’ll send it out tomorrow.” Across the dark dinner table he could feel rather than see the frown on Mr. J.P. Morgan’s face.

During the third course of the dinner, Joseph Pulitzer posed another question.
“Andrew, we’re about the same age, more or less. I believe we have some commonalities in our backgrounds as well. Weren’t you born in Europe and emigrated to America at a young age?”

Mr. Carnegie contemplated him for a long moment. He knew that Joseph Pulitzer did his homework and seldom made polite conversation.

“I came over with my Scottish family when I was thirteen, and got my first job working in a textile mill that same year,” he replied, swirling brandy in his amber Belgium snifter.

“I see. And I was an impoverished seventeen-year-old Jewish boy in Hungary when my family sailed for America.” Mr. Pulitzer rubbed his long fingers over his eyes. “Even then, I had poor health and eyesight, and the Austrian Army wouldn’t take me.”

Andrew Carnegie placed his hand on Joseph Pulitzer’s arm. “And now we’ve both made more money than we can ever spend. And all we can do is give it to the less fortunate,” he whispered reflectively. “I pray that’s enough.”

Neither man spoke for several moments. Leaning down to retrieve his linen serviette, Mr. Pulitzer asked casually, “Tell me something, Andrew. Did your brother Thomas and Lucy build Dungeness over at Cumberland Island because the Millionaires Club didn’t invite the two of you to join?”

Mr. Carnegie whirled around to stare at Mr. Pulitzer. Then his face softened and he threw his head back and roared.

“You old coot! You know very well they had already begun construction on Dungeness several years before your Millionaires Club came into being!”

Joseph Pulitzer grinned, his blue eyes sparkling with mischief. “So true. And by the by, they only asked me to join them so they could keep their enemy close. And even with that, they’ve not been able to quash the truths I publish about them in The World.” He lowered his voice and leaned forward to whisper in Mr. Carnegie’s ear. “I don’t think Jay Gould has ever forgiven me for buying his paper out from under him and then turning it into a big money-maker.”

Enjoy your summer!