Dan Rattiner's Stories

‘Downton Abbey’ and a House in the Hamptons

My wife is watching a new episode of Downton Abbey every week. This is the popular series on PBS about the wealthy Crawley family in England in 1925 in their big mansion in the countryside where they are attended by butlers, footmen, chauffeurs and chambermaids as they go off on fox hunts or to farm animal shows or to coming-out parties.

I join in to watch it from time to time. On occasion, I can’t understand what they are saying with their upper class or Irish accents but yesterday we were watching Season 6, Episode 2 when, in the grand dining room of this Victorian castle, Lady Mary Crawley says she’s just received letters from Tom Branson in America and from their cousin, Lady Rose Aldridge and her new husband, who now live in New York City. And she turns to the others and says of Rose, “They’re taking a house in the Hamptons for the summer,” and that woke me up.

According to my wife, Tom is the widower of one of the beautiful and feisty Crawley daughters. He’s just a commoner and in fact was one of the servants from downstairs, but he’s handsome and wonderful, and when Lady Sybil Crawley announced their engagement they were all taken aback but soon decided he was just quite acceptable and so took him in upstairs to join the family. Sybil, however, died in childbirth. And so the son-in-law moved to London and from there to Boston in America.

As for Rose, she was a cousin of the Crawley daughters, and she too moved to America, to New York, and now, with her new husband has taken a house for the summer in the Hamptons.

This was from back in the 1920s with all the old cars from that era and the women in pearls and long skirts and the men with vests and cravats and stiff collars. The Hamptons was quite the place in 1925 for the Upper Crust and F. Scott Fitzgerald set of New York City, and a British aristocrat and her husband would fit right in.

Mary Crawley, the eldest daughter, talking about the letters they just got, then says, “Ah! I think she could be pregnant…She says, ‘I might be back in August, but it’s a bit early to say.’”

“As usual,” the younger sister, Lady Edith Crawley replies, “you add two and two and make 53.”

***

PBS airs Downton Abbey Season 6, the show’s final season, on Masterpiece every Sunday at 9 p.m. The Downton Abbey series finale airs Sunday, March 6 at 9 p.m.

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