Sunday, February 20, 2011

Florida History: Palm Beach Visitor Staggers Hotel Guests

“Palm Beach Visitor Staggers Hotel Guests with a Collarless Tux and Unusual Garb.”

The story from the Miami News  (March 6, 1926) may be as remarkable for its placement on the front page (with considerable tongue in cheek) as for its subject.  It’s a window into the past with a view of cultural norms of the time.  Today, Van Rennselaer Pruyn would fit in quite well.

A gentleman walked into the crowded dining room of the Royal Poinciana hotel last night wearing a Tuxedo without a collar or lapels and a green dress shirt and wing collar.

The diners, their soup cooling as they turned to stare, were of the opinion that the gentleman was either advertising a new brand of liver pills or else had kept an election bet.

… the gaily garbed gentleman was Van Rennselaer Pruyn of New York. He is the same person who appeared earlier in the day wearing a tightly fitting pair of red trousers. No one paid much attention to the trousers because they thought he was a bell hop. But the green shirt with the dinner jacket!

Palm Beach is still gasping …

Van Rennselaer Pruyn is an artist, he said. He also said he is very unhappy unless wearing the color of the mood he is in.

“Why did I wear the green shirt with my dinner clothes? He responded in the same surprise, as if the answer were perfectly obvious. “In the first place, the shirt was not green. It was blue-green. The reason I was wearing that color is because I was in a normal mood. I would be positively wretched if I did not wear a color to suit my mood. When I am despondent I wear an entire costume of black; when fatigued I wear blue; hot blooded, red; and when I am tired of colors, white."
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Tags: Florida hotel history, Florida history, Royal Poinciana Hotel

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