To this very day I have no idea who was the first Getty, how many male Gettys there are in the world, how much money they have, and I really don’t care. But once, a Getty wanted to meet me, all because of a red linen skirt and musical notes.
Several summers ago, my husband and I lived in Newport, Rhode Island, the site of the annual Newport Music Festival. This particular festival was, at that time, held in several of the Newport mansions every summer, which attracted famous persons who enjoyed classical music.
Most of these visiting celebrities stayed for the duration of the festival at the homes of the more illustrious Newporters who occupied the many large mansions that dotted the Newport landscape.
We happened to have a friend, Carolyn Skelly, the mysteriously disfigured, often-robbed Skelly oil heiress who was wildly social and owned one of the smaller mansions.
Carolyn invited Don and me to a dinner following a night of classical music where Carolyn was entertaining many of her society friends, one who was a man called Gordon Getty.
Since we were not rich or famous (except my husband was more talented than anybody) to me, meeting a Getty sounded so exciting. The problem was, I had nothing to wear! Plus, it was a last minute invitation, which was normal for summertime dinners back then.
After searching the few fashion stores in Newport, I hightailed it to Boston and to my favorite department store, Saks.
It was an exhaustive search, and I could not find a thing. On my way out I spotted some summer long skirts in the lingerie dept. One was a ruby red linen, with white music notes all over it-beautiful..Next to the skirts were these filmy white peasant blouses-a perfect combination for a summer evening.
Don and I joined the musical lovers at Carolyn’s house. We are talking immense-including a gorgeous ballroom, complete with a vintage Wurlitzer jukebox and a diaz where all the important people sat.
Our seats were right after the receiving line, far, far away from the VIPs.
When we were introduced to Carolyn’s guest, Mr. Getty, the gentleman made it a point to comment favorably on my ensemble, especially my skirt.
We went to our seats in the nosebleed section. After dinner, the jukebox was charged up, and everybody started to dance. I noticed how intently Mr. Getty kept staring at our table. Slowly, Carolyn’s special friend inched his way toward us, moving slowly upward to the top of the ballroom. He ended up at our table and sat across from us in one of the empty seats vacated by dancers. Then, little by little he started walking around the table toward me, until he was there, on my left asking me to dance.
My husband did not dance. He liked to play jazz piano-he did not dance. However, for the first time and almost last time, Don stood up on my right and announced that we would be dancing. Getty leaning over my left, Don pulling me up on the right, and I was shocked. My husband gave Getty such an impressive dismissal that Getty slunk back to his diaz seat, and I never saw him again.