N for New York

On January 26th 1919 Ted sailed on the “Adriatic” from Liverpool bound for New York.  There were a few regrets as he talks wistfully of walking along the Southport seashore with Doris.  The ship carried 2,000 American soldiers plus ten Australians. The berths were comfortable and the meals plain but good.  Ted describes arriving in New York Harbour at sunset with the skyscrapers reflecting the the last rays of the setting sun.



For four and a half weeks Ted attended a succession of social functions and enjoyed being in demand and meeting some very fine girls.  The only problem with New York was the need to spend a great deal of money.  This time a woman named Olive rates a mention as Ted explores the wonders of the Stock Exchange, the Woolworths Building and of course the Statue of Liberty.

One of the parties he attended was at the Vanderbilt mansion on Fifth Avenue. The function was designed to organise relief for the Armenians but the Australians present, under the influence of too much strong liquor, vowed to help exterminate the entire Armenian nation much to the consternation of the other guests.  His story of mistaking Cornelius for the butler and handing him his great coat was later believed by some to be a slight exaggeration but a little digging into the Vanderbilt story makes it quite possible.

Cornelius Vanderbilt the Third was estranged from his father after marrying his wife Grace, against his father’s wishes.  As a result he was disinherited and only received a comparatively small amount upon the death of his father.  He did however inherit 640 Fifth Avenue plus one million dollars from an uncle in 1914.  It was one of two houses sharing the block known as the “twin” mansions.  Grace and Neily (as Cornelius was known) spent $500,000 refurbishing the house.  There were many parties held in the newly decorated mansion.   In the last year of WWI  Neily became a Brigadier General. Grace was all too pleased to call him “the General” in front of guests.

The French Ballroom Could Hold 500 People And Was Used At Least Once A Month For Balls, Events or Parties

After mixing with high society in New York,  Ted headed off to Buffalo where he wasn’t over impressed with Niagara Falls.  In Chicago he was offered three jobs but kept travelling to Kansas, Albequerque, the Grand Canyon, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

During the war Ted received “Comfort Parcels” from some women in California. 


He had written to them rather exaggerated accounts of the exploits of the “boys at the front” and so was hugely embarrassed when he hopped off the train at Redlands (60 miles west of Los Angeles)  to be met with cheering crowds, bunting, flags and party invitations to welcome the hero.  They even believed him when he told them he had an emu farm in Melbourne.

On April 8th, 1919,  Ted boarded the SS Ventura bound for home via Honolulu, Pago Pago, Sydney and Melbourne.


16 thoughts on “N for New York

  1. Hi Linda – gosh what research you’ve done … amazing stories being told of your relatives – cheers Hilary


  2. Hari OM
    Now this explains a lot about how Ted did so well on his return – he was clearly of the ‘larrikin’ personality and able to mix with any crowd – as well as spin a yarn! One suspects once met, never forgotten. YAM xx

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s