Golden Years: A Frosty Reception

The recent cocktail blast celebrating the new J.Press flagship store on 44th Street, prompted a question from MC media maven, journalist, man-about-town Zach Weiss about my brief time with Robert Frost at Dartmouth.

Frost attended Dartmouth in 1892, joining Theta Delta Chi fraternity, but problematic family circumstances forced return to his home in California after one term to deliver newspapers and work in a lamp factory. During his short time in Hanover he discovered his love for poetry in the then Dartmouth library, Wilson Hall, forever changing his life and the face of American poetry. Recipient of two honorary degrees from Dartmouth, he served as a regular lecturer at the college from the 1940s until his death in 1963.

My time of day with him occurred after one of the storied lectures and poetry readings he annually delivered to Dartmouth freshman classes at 105 Dartmouth Hall. Luckily he followed ours with a more intimate session for my several gung-ho Frost classmates at a conference room in Baker Library.

I was made well aware thanks to the braggadocio of my father, Paul Press, that Frost was a longtime bespoke J.Press customer attended to religiously in the Cambridge store by fitter-tailor Frank Martin and manager Al Goro.

Young and witless, I gracelessly introduced myself to the noted poet,

“Mr. Frost, my name is Richard Press and my grandather’s name is on the label of your suit.”

Frost was indeed draped in a full bodied J.Press black/brown herringbone Cheviot tweed suit, guaranteed to itch, strewn devil-may-care, wrinkled and rumpled over his bent frame as if stopping by woods on a snowy evening.

Robert Frost frostily replied, “Mr. Press, are you here to discuss my poetry or my clothing?” — RICHARD PRESS

27 Comments on "Golden Years: A Frosty Reception"

  1. Perhaps it’s my sense of humor, but a response that immediately came to mind was:

    “Well alrighty then!”

  2. Apologies for difficulty loading the site the past few days. Glitch should be fixed now.

  3. Am I right that this is a two-button suit, rather than a frivolous three-button one?

    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Robert_Frost_NYWTS_3.jpg

  4. The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.

  5. G. Bruce Boyer | February 16, 2018 at 4:10 pm | Reply

    Again we must thank the archival memory of Mr. Press for a charming story and nodding smile.

  6. This new information causes me to add one to my list of Best Dressed American Men of Letters. Modern Era (Since 1920.)

    T. S. Eliot
    F. Scott Fitzgerald
    John P. Marquand
    Raymond Chandler
    John Cheever
    John O’Hara
    Robert Lowell
    Robert Frost

    Sadly they are all dead. Feel free to add your own candidates.

  7. Richard Press is generous to disclose his youthful awkward manners. But Mr. Frost might have been more generous than he chose to be at that moment. He could have easily said, “Young man, you have reasons to be proud of your family name.”

  8. Richard E. Press | February 16, 2018 at 6:18 pm | Reply

    But then I would have lacked red meat for the column.

  9. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

    The less-traveled road: Ivy style

  10. @Camford:

    During my freshman year, I chose the role less traveled, and it has indeed made all the difference.

  11. Correction: “role” = “road”

  12. How fortunate we are to be able benefit from the memories, comments, and insights of Messrs. Press and Boyer.

  13. What Pietro said.

  14. We once had poets like Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg. They were followed by poets whose works were as incomprehensible as jazz.

  15. So having just had Boston Bream inform us that Jazz goes against his aesthetic sense, we now have you, Loyal Reader, telling us how incomprehensible it is. What is it with you guys?

  16. Mitate:
    What is it with you people who insist upon imposing the music of drug addicts on Ivy style followers who care about about tradition and class?

  17. I guess that Mr. Frost could not take a joke.

  18. Goodness me, what a shocking response! So tell me Loyal Reader, does Christian “insist upon imposing the music of drug addicts on Ivy style followers who care about tradition and class” when he writes his occasional jazz pieces, or is it just me when i write a succinct “My Funny Valentine – Miles Davis in Concert, Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Center, 1964. Beautiful album, Valentine especially”? Oh, and what about Bruce Boyer, a man of impeccable taste and class, as I’m sure you agree; where did he stand after writing a jazz piece fairly recently?

  19. Minimalist Trad | February 18, 2018 at 1:59 am | Reply

    Mitate,
    The best way to react to offensive comments is to ignore them.
    My father called jazz the music of Beatniks and Bolsheviks, but that didn’t stop me from listening to it.

  20. Minimalist Trad, I know you’re right, but jazz has been a lifelong passion that I’ve always felt needed defending against the brickbats of those who feel they somehow have the right to tell jazz lovers just how much they disapprove of their music; though I’ve never before heard it shamefully described as “the music of drug addicts”. I’m not aggrieved by or felt the need to bad mouth other people’s music, and believe me, there are one or two that highly offend my enlightened shell-likes.

  21. Mitate, I believe that Boston was referring to the musicians, not the jazz lovers.

  22. Out of respect to Robert Frost, Richard Press, and Bruce Boyer, among others, isn’t it time to change the topic?

  23. Purnell, it was Loyal Reader, not Boston Bream, and I didn’t think he was referring to jazz lovers.
    Old School, it is way overdue. My apologies to all.

  24. Agreed, Old School
    Let’s not forget that we are guests here.

  25. Belated reply to Richard Press above:

    The column’s the thing wherein to catch the conscience of the king.

  26. “My father called jazz the music of Beatniks and Bolsheviks, but that didn’t stop me from listening to it”.

    And how he called Rock And Roll music ?

  27. Minimalist Trad | February 24, 2018 at 8:20 am | Reply

    @Carmelo,
    He called Rock and Roll the music of teenagers totally lacking in self-control.

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