Photo by Salt Water New England

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Question for the Community: What's on the TDP Bucket List?

Take a Maine Windjammer Cruise?

Muffy, I have a question for the TDP community.  What are things that are on the preppy bucket list?  What are activities - that are in the preppy tradition, of course - to accomplish before we die?

Keep up the great work.

Buy a Tuxedo?   (Photos from Personal Archives)


  1. 1. Spend one Christmas working in a soup kitchen.

    2. Read War and Peace

  2. Have a Navy Volvo with a Golden Retriever in the back.


  3. For younger American Preps I recommend to take a ''Grand Tour'' of Europe:

    The New York Times published a nice piece a couple of years ago titled ''Lessons From the Frugal Grand Tour'':

    For younger European Preps I recommend to do the same thing in the United States and Canada.

    For Americans this means going back to their cultural roots, and for Europeans it means to see a glimpse of their own future by visiting the United States (as Europe is becoming the United States of Europe (EU)). It also strengthens and maintains the important Trans-Atlantic relations between the ''Old and New World''.

    For anybody, but especially for anybody who is on a budget, or has a fear of flying in aluminum cans through the skies like myself :-) , I recommend to watch Whit Stillman's first three films, because they truly capture Prepdom (how I see it and have experienced it) in all its facets:

    Metropolitan (1990)
    Barcelona (1994)
    Last Days of Disco (1998)

    In my opinion Whit Stillman's work encourages self-awareness and self-reflection in ''preppies'', and self-awareness is always a good thing to have in Life, if one considers oneself to be preppy or not.

    Here a very interesting article about Whit Stillman, from a few years ago, also from the NY Times. E. Digby Baltzell was/is Whit Stillman's godfather:

    ''Whit Stillman and the Song of the Preppy''

  4. Visit J. Press before (God forbid) it's Brooks Brothered.

  5. Summer on the Vineyard or Nantucket.

  6. My father's advice to me on graduating university was "You better enjoy life, as it goes by so fast. When you are young you don't realize it."

    I made a bucket list then and there, and within reason, I've done everything on that list by the time I said I would... be it friends, sports, travel, living abroad, material items, social causes, volunteer work, personal growth, museum and cultural/arts organization boards... you name it.... My goal in essence was when I turned on a TV, I wanted to say "I've done that", rather than relying on the box for entertainment.

    The two items on that list I never accomplished were to speak Dutch and to get my pilots license and pilot a bi-plane. Both my grandfathers were pilots in the 1920's and it has always held an appeal. Dutch? Don't ask. I have no idea why other than it must be instinct from old New York.

    By far the most complex and rewarding thing which topped the list was to beat the male biological clock and become a father. 40 was my cut off and I made it just under the wire. I am a single father who has twins via gestational surrogacy. It is by far the most amazing thing I have ever done. It was also the most miraculous, crowning achievement on my bucket list. I would take the hardest day as a parent over the most amazing day before they arrived.

    I drove up for my thirtieth reunion at prep school with my boys in tow a few weekends ago. The path has swayed dramatically from where I thought I would be at this point in my life, yet I have zero, and I mean zero, regrets in life. I realized on the drive up that my bucket list is very minimal now. I'm alive and have my health. The bucket list is all about my kids now and their education. That is all I will be able to leave them.

    Perhaps I am being too literal on this post and it is supposed to be another very humorous post. What a good laugh at all the clever Brooks Bro's comments! But, as I am attending a funeral service for a childhood friend on the 3rd, I am feeling more solemn. Here was a man who did success textbook style. Harvard graduate and managing partner at an enormous firm...... and dead at fifty of a heart attack leaving a wife and three children...... Only to have his successor's name and contact info listed in his obituary.

    Hopefully, young readers will do what their heart tells them, and view success as a highly personal thing. Not as something they garner from others to define them as successful. So fill your bucket list with amazing things, and have a ball achieving them.

    Jokingly, I guess one of the last things on my list is to have my name finally come forth from the extensive list at the Bohemian Club......... and then actually be able to afford it.

  7. Anon, 9:26...beautiful sentiments. I too, would take the toughest parent day over anything that came before.

    Interestingly enough, I think becoming a parent would be tops on a prep bucket list. The deep understanding and appreciation for history and tradition that sits at the core of preppiness only happens through continuing generations. Heirlooms need someone to be passed on to, and becoming a parent helps one appreciate one's roots more than anything else can.


  8. I truly hope to visit The Andover Shop and O'Connell's:

  9. High on my wish list was to play golf at Pebble Beach. Three weeks ago, my son got to play. He sent me photos on his iPhone during his round.

    Suddenly, my desire was replaced by joy for him, as he and his three friends had the perfect day, no wind or rain, low sixties and clear blue skies. He shot 79 from the back tees and I have a picture of him hammering his drive on the par 5 18th, his form a thing of beauty.

    He has always been my favorite golf partner, we learned together, and his dreams have always been more important than mine since the day he was born.


  10. I am planning on going to a baseball game at all 30 Major League Ballparks in 40 days next summer, end of May finishing early July 2015.

  11. Attend at least one Presidential Inargural Ball.

    Become proficient with a quail gun.

    Have dinner in Paris with the love of your life.

    Spend the weekend at the Metropolitan Museum.

    Sail a Star Class boat.

    Learn to shag, well, with no pretense or irony.

  12. Traverse & ski the Haute Route.

  13. Own a horse and become a proficient rider to complete a cross-country course.

    Skiing in Jackson Hole, WY.

    Own or inherit a Winslow Homer painting.

  14. I am a student of military history and one battle, just 60 years ago has fascinated me from my teens to the present.

    I hope to walk the battlefield of Dien Bien Phu, where a gallant French Union garrison (with a distant relative as a member) endured 57 days of Hell In A Very Small Place.

    Probably most un-prep, but it's at the very top of my bucket list.

    This past May 7th was the 60th anniversary of the fall of the fortress. The Vietnamese government put on its typical propaganda celebration, reminding the world how they had prevailed against the French and later the USA.

    In Paris and Frejus, France, smaller and more somber ceremonies were held by the French Army, the remaining survivors and their families. The French have a way of remembering these famous defeats because in the process they also remember and honor the valor of their soldiers.

    It is a trait I admire and one I think worth emulating, especially at our own Memorial and Veteran's Days as our newest generation of veterans comes home from our longest war.

  15. It is interesting to see the range of desires on the bucket lists of 20 and 30 something's in contrast to the roughly 60 something's and beyond.

    In my 20's I-
    Married a Doctor
    Had two perfect daughters
    Hand smocked little dresses
    Restored and decorated a classic Victorian home with the family heirlooms
    Served on boards, committees, and social organizations
    Did extensive needlework projects
    Had lots of ski trips

    In my 60's
    I want to continue to volunteer as a docent at a local museum( and enjoy leisurely lunches in their restaurant)
    I want to enjoy the richness of every season and notice the lovely plants in my neighbors' yards
    I'd like to broaden my appreciation of music,plays,and movies,especially when shared with my grandson
    Am very thankful that I invested in a classic wardrobe when I could afford it.
    #1-Helping the good husband to understand that I'd rather he retire before every ounce of his energy,strength,and health is depleted leaving me comfortable yet alone with our elderly hound.

  16. Excellent post and comments!

    Anonymous 9:26, your father was a very wise man! I am 72 and sometimes it shocks me to realize how quickly I got here. Thank goodness, I did get here!

  17. Read all of the unread books that are sitting on my shelves, in addition to reading others again-- at this age (in my 60's).

    Visit Powell's Books in Portland, OR.

    Live in the French countryside for a year.

    Attend the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve at King's College Chapel.


  18. This if fun. Thanks for this-I think even my therapist would think it's a good idea to write this down on paper (or your blog in this instance)-here goes
    - live on the coast of Maine
    - learn to sail
    - restore an old house
    - go back to England
    - live long enough to see my son evolve, marry, and have his own children

  19. I see a bucket list as a collection of totally reasonable expectations, as opposed to the unobtainable (such as, for most of us, owning masterpieces of art). That said, I was discussing this at lunch today with our guests and said I wanted to take a garden tour of the British Isles. A British friend claims the Land Trust has the best tours. I actually went so far as to create a list of gardens I want to see, so now it's just a matter of organizing the trip or signing on to a tour.

  20. European preps? Is there such a thing?

  21. Times does go by quickly. I was just in my 20s in DC, or so it seems.

    I'd like to have lunch together w Meryl Streep and Glenn Close.

    I'd like to cruise around the world twice.

    I'd like a house on the cape for a summer and a house on Beacon Hill for a winter.

    I'd like to sail on a J boat.

    I'd like to learn how to golf and not look like a spaz.

    I'd like for someone to miraculously fill in all the blanks on my family tree.

    There's a start!

  22. At 55, I'm working on these 3 things: I want to become fluent in 2 new languages before hearing loss might come along to make it difficult. I also want to read great books and commit beautiful sights to memory in case my eyes deteriorate as my father's have. Thirdly, whereas during my working life horticulture was an enjoyable profession, I now want to learn to forage for wild vegetables and to prepare them in the confident manner of the famous Danish restaurant, Noma.

  23. 1) Stop buying a lot of things and start buying a few good things.
    2) Grow or raise some of your own food.
    3) Pass the values of hard work, graciousness, and the importance of family to a young person.
    4)Learn important things and use the knowledge to do good..

  24. Sail entirely around Martha's Vineyard on a Catboat

    Muffy, what are your thoughts on modern day film photography? Do you use film on occasion?

  25. Fantastic. All classics. Humans, you have to love them.

  26. Like others, I have many 'non prep' bucket list items: foreign language fluency, relearning how to play the piano, etc.

    Preppy bucket list (in no particular order):

    * visit Nantucket
    * raise my tennis game to 4.0 and attend the US Open in NY
    * regularly play golf in the 80s and play at some of the top courses in the world
    * attend the Masters
    * obtain original volumes of classic works of literature
    * learn to sail
    * own a classic convertible


  27. Anonymous at 6:46 PM,

    if it were not for people like Martin Luther and Johannes Gutenberg, I highly doubt, that there would be a United States of America or a North Eastern Prep Culture today. To me Johannes Gutenberg and Martin Luther are the ''Founding Fathers of Prepdom and WASPdom'', and they were both Europeans:

    ''His invention of mechanical movable type printing started the Printing Revolution and is widely regarded as the most important event of the modern period. It played a key role in the development of the Renaissance, Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, and the Scientific revolution and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy and the spread of learning to the masses.'' -

    I, for example was born in Göttingen, Germany, a university town.

    ''Founded in 1734 by George II, King of Great Britain and Elector of Hanover and starting classes in 1737, the university is the oldest in the state of Lower Saxony, and also the biggest in student enrollment, which stands at around 26,000. In 1734, King George II of Great Britain, who was also Elector of Hanover, gave his Prime Minister in Hanover, Gerlach Adolph von Münchhausen, the order to establish a university in Göttingen to propagate the ideas of academic freedom and enlightenment at the times of the European Enlightenment.'' -

    The English, who influenced the North Eastern United States through their institutions of higher learning, like Harvard, Yale etc., did the same thing in Protestant areas of Germany, like the one my mother's family is from and that I was born in. That is why, even though I am not from New England, I can very much identify with and recognize myself in the pages of TDP. Of course there are always regional differences, I am not a Yankee, but the underlying theme and philosophy is the same. I engaged in the same activities and played the same sports New Englanders played when I grew up, wore similar clothes, was raised with a similar world view and ethics etc.
    There is an arc of Prepdom, that stretches from Northern Germany(Lower Saxony and Westphalia), to England and then to New England. With England being its historic and cultural center in my opinion, New England being its future and evolution, and the Protestant Reformation and Martin Luther being its birth moment.

    Today the Upper Class in Germany, at least the area I grew up in, still send their children to go to prep schools in England, Canada or New England to maintain this historic and cultural bond.

  28. Short Preppy List: learn to sail and taking a walking tour of the Cotswold region in England.

  29. Oh, where to begin?

    Let's see; I got my car passions out of the way early on. I've owned both a Land-Rover (the one with the 65-horsepower engine) and two Rover sedans. I missed out on owning either a Bristol or a Peugeot. I am currently living with three Volvos.

    Travel-wise, we are visiting Germany this summer where I'd like to visit Questenberg but only because that's where my name came from, slightly anglicized. However, it's in the opposite direcetion from where we're headed, which is west. I'd like visit Domreney-La-Purcelle and Rouen, both of which are associated with Joan of Arc (not to be confused with Joan of Ozark). We did the U.K. and few years ago and earlier this year, California. I've also been to Oklahoma.

    Socially, I've been to a coffee at Anderson House in D.C., been to a Christmas party with a bunch of White House staffers, got confirmed, got married, had children and somehow got both of them through college, a college named after one of their direct ancestors. Even more remarkable, they are both out of the house and one is married and living in Germany (Rhineland).

    Someday I'd like to finish reading both the Bible and the Koran. I would add War and Peace but I've already seen the movie.

  30. Oh, I forgot to mention. Someone else at home has a bucket list, too, and it includes Giverny and that's why we probably won't make it to Rouen.

  31. Being Catholic, I'd like to see many of the cultural landmarks that I've not been able to visit:

    St. Patrick's in NYC

    Westminster Cathedral in London

    a tour of the University of Notre Dame (including a football game), Georgetown University and Boston College

    And of course, Rome and the Vatican.

    While visiting , I'd certainly like to venture out and visit nearby places of interest, such as the J Press Store, Harvard and Cambridge and the many London landmarks.

  32. I have a list but it's in my head, and some of the items are too vague. This is a good reminder for me sit down, write my list out, making more specific the ones that are too general, and then start acting on them! --Holly in PA

  33. I don't have an official list, but these are things I'd like to do:

    Visit all 50 states.
    Visit Galapagos.
    Visit Antactica.
    Learn to play the guitar.

  34. I'm going to have Muffy's burgee discretely tattooed on my ankle.

  35. Although I've yet to compile a formal list, a few things come to mind..

    Own a Hinckley Bermuda 40 yawl

    Sail a 12-Meter

    Get a backseat ride in a military fighter jet.


  36. Write an insightful and suitably angst-filled novel that rapidly takes its place on the reading lists of every prep school and potted ivy American Lit class.

    I can think of no better way for a prep to dodge her own mortality and, in a small way, outsmart the bucket.

  37. Have enough money to contemplate a preppy bucket list.

  38. Live abroad not at the behest of my Uncle Sam.

    Take a course on documentary film-making.

    This one is probably not on a Prep's general bucket list...but since I've already jumped from a perfectly good airplane I'd like to attempt a HALO jump/freefall.

  39. -Write a book
    -Experience all four seasons in New England
    -Live near water
    -Sleep in a lighthouse
    -Go sailing again with my husband (we haven't gone since having kids)

    And while I am at it learn more French and/or Norwegian and see more of the countryside in Ireland and the UK


  40. Paul Connors,
    If at all possible, go. Looking at the Viet Minh positions from the French positions it's easy to see that brave men suffer when the theater commander underestimates the enemy.
    Regarding this battle, you might also want to go to the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston where Bernard Fall's papers are archived.

  41. 1. Get a good lens for nature photography
    2. Return to England and Scotland
    3. Sail again...after a very long hiatus following my Aunt's death in a sailing accident
    4. Do an annual Christmas bird count..and learn enough to know what I am counting
    5. Get a nice fountain pen
    6. After selling a family Steinway full size grand piano (late 1800's) due to lack of space...get a Steinway upright piano with a history. Pianos make a home.
    7. Write handwritten letters more (and hopefully receive some in return)
    8. Find a DVR that will play region-free DVD's and get Apple TV or that I am not dependent on Cable TV
    9. Live an authentic and kind life ..maintaining long-time friendships and keeping family connected
    10. Simplify possessions ..down to only those things which bring me great pleasure (including the most important of family heirlooms, a few scrapbooks, family photos, and family history)

  42. No offense to the TDP community but many of these goals are pretty tepid for a bucket list, which is commonly defined as a compilation of lofty ambitions to fulfill before you die. Does reading a book, watching a movie or shopping really meet the standard?

  43. #1 ( of many ) To swim (post cancer) back out to "the island" up at the lake this summer.