Old Money: In Their Own Words

The thing that we always remember, and are often reminded of, is that we’ve had every advantage: solid family environment, access to healthcare and education, travel, a support system of teachers, friends, and a social network, all contributing to a pretty constructive childhood and adolescence.

So to brag about your accomplishments is a little gauche. If you’re a kid from the Bronx raised by a single parent and educated in the street and you manage to get out, make a good life for yourself, that’s great. It’s completely understandable if you’re proud of it and want to show the world you’ve made it.

But for the members of my family, the perspective is different. There’s a line of people who’ve preceded you, or who are growing up along side you, who have substantial accomplishments. The general public may or may not know about them, but the members of the family damn sure do. And the expectation is that you’re going to apply yourself and accomplish something as well.

I’m not complaining (that’s another thing that just isn’t done), but that’s the reality. Your goals may not include making a lot of money in business, but you’ve got to contribute.

The worst things you can do are to be ostentatious and lazy. You didn’t earn the money you’re spending. You’re just throwing it in other people’s faces because you’re insecure. And if you’re lazy, you’re just wasting a tremendous, lucky gift that was given you: being born into an affluent family.

My grandmother, who raised millions of dollars for charity, used to cast a nasty eye around the club lunch room on Sundays and target such people. With a tight jaw she’d watch them have too many Bloody Mary’s and sneer that they were a ‘waste of oxygen and alcohol.’

That as much as anything motivated me to figure out what I wanted to do in life and get to it. I just never wanted that said about me.

  • Andrew


4 thoughts on “Old Money: In Their Own Words

  1. I know that I was not fully aware of the advantages that I had growing up, sometimes subtle advantages. Our children have had a myriad of opportunities to thrive athletically, artistically and socially. My son is now a freshmen in a very demanding undergraduate program and he seems to be rising to the challenge. My sense is that he is now realizing all the advantages that he has had and knows that if he does not work hard to contribute in a meaningful way to the world around him it would be a shame. Meanwhile he is aware of those in his midst who are prodigal, and others that do not have his advantages. But the point here is we must remain humble, understated and sometimes work with that seed of doubt so characteristic of some of our Puritan ancestors

    1. Thank you, David, and congratulations on your son’s initiative and drive. I’m sure he didn’t come by that accidentally. The apple, as they say, doesn’t fall far from the tree. Good for you. – BGT

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