Saturday, February 16, 2008

New Year's Day of 1877 found Miss Day, after the time-honored custom of the age, holding open house in her family's home in midtown Manhattan. The front drawing room was crowded with May family and friends in well-cut morning coats and Prince Alberts toasting the incoming year in a variety of potables passed on silver trays by impeccable house footmen superintended by a stylish English butler. Fragrant cigar smoke wreathed the gas fixtures and conversation was, perhaps, a little lounder than was allowed by the proprieties at other times, but New Year's was still a special holiday in New York and, in deference to an Old Dutch custom that had the sanction of long observance, even the most staid and respectable people took a glass more than was strictly advisable.

Lucius Beebe, The Big Spenders (136)