Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Memories of Valentine (Nicholas) Lawford

Dear Herry:

At a dinner last night I found myself recounting those amazing years I spent knowing Horst and Nicholas in Oyster Bay. There's a Nor'easter battering Manhattan, so things are quiet so I thought I'd see what Professor Google had to say . . . and that's how I found you. I've tried to respond through your website, but I couldn't get past Outlook Explorer, so am sending this GMail to GMail.

I had taken a small getaway cottage in Locust Valley and met them at a party given by flower designer Barry Ferguson. "Dear Boy," said Nicholas at some point, "you don't know a soul out here. Come to Sunday lunch tomorrow." And that's how I met Greta Garbo.

So began three years or so of many chatty dinners -- sometimes at home, other times at Burt Bachach's and often at a favorite joint called Wall's Wharf in Bayville right on Long Island Sound. I don't recall how many dinners there were, but I'm thinking it was, gulp, fifty at least. Usually it was just Horst, Nicholas, myself and a friend of mine, Robin Roosevelt.

I certainly don't need to tell you, but it was always fun and fascinating. Horst was, shall we say, more "visual," but Nicholas could take you into other worlds. There was never any sense of name dropping or showing off, just an inside view of a world long gone. Once I wanted Horst to threaten to sue Madonna for failing to license his Maidenform photo in her Vogue mucic video. Then there were various authors who came to call for bios on Noel Coward and, do I have it right, Stephen Tennant.

And now, that world is long gone.

Robin and I had dinner with them on a Sunday night when Nicholas mentioned he was going to have some simple procedure at North Shore Hospital. Horst said the problem was because Nicholas ate too many nuts. We were to have dinner at Barry's house a few days later until he called with the report of Nicholas's Shell Fish Dye reaction. I thought these dinners would go on on on, but no. It was over.

I just wanted to share with you these few memories of one of, in retrospect, one of the greatest influences in my life. He mentioned you and said we should all get together sometime. When next you're in New York, or I'm in London, let's do just that. I'd like to make a toast.

My best,

David Osterlund
November 2009

An Aesthete's Lament wrote:

I just spotted your blog today and am rereading Mr Lawford's memoir. Once long ago I spent the loveliest afternoon with him and Mr Horst, at their delightful house in Oyster Bay, and was stunned by your uncle's enormous charm. He was a lovely man. And a damned good writer.

November 2009

Jane Stubbs writes:

Dear Mr. Lawford
I made a wonderful discovery last weekend- I found one of your uncle's watercolors, a camellia japonica, in a small shop not far from Oyster Bay, NY. I knew him and adored him and had been looking for one for years. It was such a happy discovery but it did bring flooding back all the sadness of his shockingly sudden death.

I just entered your uncle's name and watercolor and up popped your great collection of photos on Flickr. I next found your blog. The photos are marvelous and exciting. Are you working on a book? I am going to forward the link to a friend at Vogue. The world needs to hear more about your brilliant, inspiring, generous and kind uncle.
All best,
Jane Stubbs 15th October 2014

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