Craig Mitchell, son of Charles E. Mitchell
There’s a telescope on the front porch of the National Golf Links of America in Southampton that people very often nowadays say — what is that telescope for? Well the telescope was for identifying the various members’ yachts. Everybody commuted by yacht over the weekend and we had a little yacht club at the foot of the National. And the head steward, as a new yacht would approach and drop anchor, would come out and read the name of the yacht and then go to the yacht club register and find out which member it belonged to and then he would call and alert the chauffeur at the house to come down and pick up the owner. Of course nowadays, there’s nothing in that yacht basin, totally deserted. In the old days it would be crowded with yachts… That’s just one tiny little example of how things differ today than they were in the old days.
Looking back it seems like a complete dichotomy between the days up until the great crash of ’29 and the subsequent depression and everything that has happened since then… I think one example is the experience of a great friend of my father, Reggie Waterbury, who was almost a member of the family. Reggie was a bon vivant and great fun and he was sort of the number one extra man at every party. And a great, great friend of my sister and mine…
When the Depression came, after the crash and when we got into 1930, Father received a letter from him saying… “Dear Charlie, I will always revere our friendship and remember the great times we’ve had together, but I know that a new world is coming and I’m not prepared to live in it and I’m dropping out. Please don’t have me followed, you will never see me again. I send you all my dearest affection, Reggie.” And indeed, he would go from town to town one step ahead of the detectives my father would send to try and find him. And he was never again located and he was never able to make that transition.
Of course a lot of other people jumped out the window. By noon on Black Thursday there had been eleven suicides of fairly prominent investors. A lot of people either drank themselves to death, committed suicide, or just disappeared. Reggie was one of them. And I will say, looking back on it… the world in those days, prior to the Great Depression was a totally, totally different thing with almost nothing in common to what we live in today.