Dennis Suskind went to work right after high school in 1960. He says, “In my family, if you wanted to eat, you worked.” Originally, he “wanted to get into accounting but I wasn’t smart enough.” He went on to a stellar career in commodities broking, eventually becoming general partner at Goldman Sachs. A horse lover, he’s been president of the Hampton Classic Horse Show for 30 years, and says he “wouldn’t mind being reincarnated as a horse!”
Behind the Hedges: How long have you been coming to the Hamptons?
Dennis Suskind: I’ve been coming to the Hamptons now for 54 years. Originally I rented in Westhampton, but friends of mine urged me to try Bridgehampton, because there was no one there. And it was true. Everyone was an artist or a farmer, and it was great. I would go to the Candy Kitchen at 6:30 in the morning, when only farmers and me were allowed in. George Stavropoulos, the owner, allowed the farmers and the farmers only to service themselves and sit at the counter. I was very honored back in 1965 when I was allowed to sit in a booth.
BTH: Any other places you like to eat, and other things you like to do?
DS: At my advanced age, I like to play golf. Eat, sleep, and entertain! I like the Bell & Anchor, American Hotel, Sen, Pierre’s, Bobby Van’s…my friends ask me how I can get a good table at these restaurants in August. I always tell them it helps to be patronizing these restaurants in January!
BTH: What’s your family background?
DS: My grandfather was Russian. He walked across Europe to escape being conscripted into the Russian Army. He ended up in New York City when he was 18. He rented floor space to sleep on from a mother and daughter. The mother was a widow and took in washing to make ends meet, and she also rented out spots on the living room floor in her apartment to make ends meet. My grandfather, after renting floor space for five years, finally married my grandmother. She was the daughter of the family. He lived to be 92, my grandfather, and he always said he married to get off the living room floor.
BTH: How did you get involved with the Hampton Classic?
DS: I’ve always loved riding and I used to compete, and my daughter is still involved. One year, something at the horse show annoyed me, and I went to Tony Hitchcock, who was the head at that time, and said to him, “There’s something that is really bothering me.” Only these days I can’t remember what it was! I was told, if you can do better, then join the board of directors. And I did. Now I’ve been the president for 30 years.
There’s something for everyone at our show. There are four-year-old children up to Olympians competing. It’s open to everyone to enter, and it’s not expensive to get in. $10 a person, and if you say you can’t afford it we’ll let you in anyway. We have things for everyone, including Kids’ Day, which is enormously popular, and on the Monday we have classes with disabled riders. If anyone wants to feel terrific, go and see our disabled riders. We have tremendous outreach.
BTH: If you could have anyone at your Hamptons dinner party—dead or alive—who would you invite?
DS: That one is tough. Besides my mother and father….I’d have to say Bernard Baruch.