Celebrating the Preppy Lifestyle and it's sensibilities


“How long will preppies be around?”

“Centuries, I guess.  Maybe forever.  As long as there is madras in the world.”

“Thank you.”

                                                                                         THE PREPPY AND THE TROUT

There isn't a great deal of modern literature about us Preps, so when one was brought to my attention, I had to check it out.  
It's a novel by the talented Robert Reichardt and honestly, it's a very entertaining read.  I'm sure  readers will thoroughly enjoy his wonderfully written and colorful characters.
Here's a brief teaser to wet your whistle: 
Laced with wit, sophistication and humor, this novel about preppies is filled with colorful characters leading frustrating lives. Set in the resort town of Ketchum, Idaho, the story revolves around a young, insecure, former lacrosse star who owns a fly-fishing shop, his demanding preppy wife, and a bungling older preppy who’s recently moved west to escape his troubles by trout fishing.
Eric Berensen (the fly-fishing shop owner) is a lame former lacrosse star at an unnamed college (Colgate) who has married over his head into an old east-coast family. His preppy debutante wife, Corkie (an elementary school teacher and yoga and riding enthusiast), attempts to transform him into her version of a preppy -- something he has no intention of becoming. More conflict arises due to her longing for a child -- much to his dismay. To complicate matters, a lovely divorcee (Brooke Lowell) shows up with the intention of seducing the troubled Eric who also struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
The young couple befriends an aging preppy named Kip Noll III who’s recently arrived in town. He becomes known as “the Preppy” because of his classic New England dress and mannerisms. Despite a fine social pedigree, a charming personality and an Ivy League degree, Kip’s made a total shambles of his life (financial and two divorces) and is now eagerly awaiting a large inheritance from his Aunt Caroline to rescue him. Unfortunately, his unethical sister, Topsy (a Seven Sisters graduate) from Old Lyme, Connecticut, has other plans. Ironically, an outrageous long-distance legal battle ensues.

Fragments of Chuck Berry’s old tune, “No particular place to go,” serves as the novel’s background theme song, as each of the characters seek out their own “Particular Place” in life after prep school. Similarly, Izaak Walton’s, The Compleat Angler, forms the philosophical backdrop for the fly-fishing aspects of the story.
The narrator’s introduction of himself in the middle of the novel comes as something of a surprise.

Robert was gracious enough to let me pick his mind and get his thoughts on his new book, preppies and what he hopes to achieve. 

The Preppy Times:  Hello Robert, I must say, what an interesting title for your book.  How did you choose that name?

Robert Reichardt:  I thought the title “The Preppy and the Trout” encompassed something of what the book was about -- preppies living in a natural environment, no longer in school -- that sort of thing.

TPT:  What made you decide to write the book?

R.R:  Last summer, I was on vacation in Ketchum, Idaho and thought it would be a unique setting for a novel. Then the problems arose: what would it be about, who would the characters be, what kind of lives would they be leading, what were their past stories and what would be the conflicts besetting them? Somehow, I stumbled upon the idea that they would be preppies -- composites of people I’ve known, and then a lot of autobiographical material gradually got grafted on as well.

TPT:  How long did it take to write The Preppy and The Trout?

R.R:  About a year. The writing is easy, it’s the thinking about what to say that’s the catch. As the old saying goes: “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and other times I just sits.” I’m a big believer in revising -- the beauty is in the re-writes. It’s amazing what will pop up on the third or fourth time around. This is a common practice -- I think Flaubert and Fitzgerald each rewrote their masterpieces many, many times.

TPT:  When did you start writing?

R.R:  I’ve always enjoyed the written word, and consider reading to be one of life’s best (non-fattening) pleasures. I never really did engage in creative writing much until rather recently -- I wrote a group of plays (mostly comedies) a few years ago which are still awaiting to be discovered.

TPT:  What was the first piece you ever wrote?

R.R:  Years ago I tried to write a novel when I was living in Europe. Of course, it wasn’t any good and so I moved on to other things

TPT:  What is your choice of medium to write and why?

R.R:  I do a combination of yellow legal pads with pen, and organizing in MS Word. When I think of all the great writers who created their work on typewriters, I have nothing but admiration for them. And to have to rumble through stacks of paper must have been very time-consuming and frustrating as well. No wonder so many of them drank heavily. Writers today are lucky.

TPT:  Are there any more books in the works?

R.R:  A book of my collected plays (“Karen, The Fuse Lady and Other Plays”) will be coming out in eBook in a few weeks. How’s that for a plug? I also have another novel I’m trying to work the kinks out of -- but that’s a long way off.

TPT:  Tell me, who are your favorite writers?

R.R:  Of course the list could stretch out, but I’ve always admired Evelyn Waugh for his wit (VILE BODIES, A HANDFUL OF DUST), and so far as sheer brilliance in handling the English language none are better than Lawrence Durrell (THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET), Aldous Huxley (POINT COUNTER POINT), and all the short stories of John Updike. In the area of the imagination, I like the ironic works of Jose Saramago (BLINDNESS, THE STONE RAFT), and the inventive novels of Kurt Vonnegut. The “preppy” authors John Cheever and John Knowles are in there too.

TPT:  What is your favorite genre?

R.R:  I like literary novels and also non-fiction histories (THE WILD BLUE by Stephen Ambrose, and THE RIVER OF DOUBT by Candice Millard, for example).

TPT:  What was life like for you growing up?

R.R:  I grew up in a Brooks Brothers and J. Press milieu and so this gave me a pretty good insight into the lives and psychologies of the preppies which people “The Preppy and the Trout.”

TPT:  What are your thoughts on Preps in society today?

R.R:  In recent years, there’s been an attempt to water down and extend the shoreline as to what constitutes “preppy.” Obviously, this is being perpetrated by companies with no history of being preppy who only have the bottom line in clear view. To them, preppy is merely a passing fad which might or might not be carried next season (depends on the sales figures). Many consumers who would like to partake in the preppy schema are being grossly misled as to what it’s all about. The recent unnecessary catastrophic sequel to a classic book hasn’t helped much either. And there’s also been a denigrating, mocking attitude towards preppies coming from certain quarters of society. Let’s face it, contemporary America is a slovenly culture with the majority running around looking pretty bad. A well dressed person with taste and class is looked upon with suspicion (if not with total incomprehension). It’s just the opposite of the 1920-1950s when even factory workers tried to dress well and present a positive image. Of course, preppies aren’t going to discard their Nantucket Reds, topsiders, signet rings, Lillys, bow ties, LL Bean Norwegian sweaters, blazers and follow the mob to “fit in.” Preps today are probably farther away from the mainstream than at any other time, but it’s only because the mainstream has jumped off a cultural cliff. To our credit, we haven’t moved an inch and don’t need to.

TPT:  In your opinion, what do you feel makes good writing?

R.R:  I admire conciseness and brevity in a writer -- someone who doesn’t take five pages to say what could be said in one. Modern Age impatience, I suppose. Knowing how to structure a novel to keep the reader’s interest and curiosity is a welcome quality. I’m also a sucker for extraordinary metaphors and similes -- someone who can make connections between disparate things I never would have thought of. Intellectual depth shining behind the words is another important element. And especially for good writing, I need to have some humor showing up now and then or else I tend to get bored.

TPT:  What advice would you give to budding writers?

R.R:  Read as much good literature and great writers as you can and eventually by osmosis, some of their thought patterns will take hold in you. Don’t worry too much about being “original” (they say that Shakespeare said it all, and what he left out James Joyce put in) so tell your stories in your own voice.

I advise studying the books on novel writing published by The Writer’s Digest. I’ve found them to be helpful in structuring, plotting, scenes, characters, action, etc.

Although there will always be a market for printed books, the future is tilting heavily toward eBooks. Price and accessibility are big factors. The major publishers have been downsizing for some time, and unless you’re already a celebrity or politician, the days of substantial advances being passed across the table at some posh Manhattan restaurant and major marketing pushes are over. Putting your book out in eBook format allows you access to millions of potential readers globally in a short time.

TPT:  Where does Robert Reichardt plan to be in five years?

R.R:  We make our plans and the Gods laugh at us. Anyway, like everyone else, I’d like to be healthy and happy.

TPT:  Finally, what do you hope readers will take away from your book?

R.R:  I hope they will have enjoyed reading it and gotten to know the lives of the characters. The preppies depicted in “The Preppy and the Trout” are human beings first and in a certain social category afterward. This is a book more about psychology and relationships than what the people are wearing. I also would like for the readers to laugh as much as possible, and to be entertained by the various situations. I’ve attempted to make it as smooth flowing and as easy to read as I could -- nobody wants to trudge through “War and Peace” nowadays.

TPT:  Robert, it's been an honor.

Click the ad to get a copy of this wonderful Ebook, or head on over to smashwords   

Also available on Apple iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.  And let me know what you thought of it.

The Preppy Times


Jack's Outback II

Along Route 6a in Yarmouth port, hidden behind buildings and a parking lot sits an eerie Cape Cod eatery known to locals as Jack’s Outback II.  Several years ago, it was simply called Jack’s Outback. 
Jacks back then was a good wake-up call to those with delusions of grandeur who needed a slice of humble pie.  Come to think of it, humble pie might have been on their menu. 
First off, the place is hard find unless you are a local and if you blink, you might miss it.   The restaurant is set in a large white house typically found on the Cape and honestly, the best breakfast food you will ever get.  I am talking about food you would eat at grandma’s home on a Sunday morning, and that would fatten you up in a New York minute. 

The late Jack Bragington

Yet the real appeal for visitors and one not understood by the local diners, is the odd restaurant rules set up by onetime proprietor, Jack Bragington.  These rules are so eccentric that an unaware tourist might think they may have somehow stepped into the twilight zone.
Here is what you could expect on any given day; celebratory hooting and hollering by the staff over tips and confused tourists waiting for someone to take their orders, at Jacks you write your own food ticket and place it on the wheel.  You also get your own coffee and silverware and if you do not pick up your food fast enough, expect the wrath of Jack.  You were also expected to wipe down your own table and pay with cash, no credit cards allowed. 
Think Mayberry in New England where everyone has gone crazy and you will have a feel for the place.  Honestly, it is all in good fun and no one took Jack seriously.
That was then.  Jack has since passed away, God rest his soul.  Also gone are the crazy antics of the staff.  Visitors now place orders the conventional way.  It is a more restrained restaurant but what has not changed is the awesome food.

Jack's Golden Retriever who was spoiled rotten

The lobster omelets are still top notch, as are their famous popovers, home fries; prime rib and delectable pies.  I would advise trying everything on the menu. You will not be disappointed and the portions are huge as well.
Therefore, if you are ever on the Cape and looking for a restaurant with a homey feel, try Jack’s Outback II, and bring your appetite.
Jack’s Outback II
161 Route 6A
Yarmouth Port, MA. 02675
(508) 362-6690

This sign really captures the humor of Jack's Outback II

The Preppy Times


I've always fancied Laura Ashley's Style.  I love her very feminine approach to ladies garments.  At first glance, she may remind us of our own Lilly Pulitzer, but not quite.  While Lilly's style exhibits the Palm Beach Resort look with its burst of colorful floral patterns, Laura exhibits the calm subtlety of the English Countryside.
While cleaning up at my grandmother's home, I stumbled across an old Laura Ashley Catalog, via 1997 and thought I'd share a little of her timeless style.

She was born September 7, 1925 amidst farms and villages in her native Wales.  This no doubt had a major influence in her work.  In her lifetime, her name became synonymous with simple and gracefulness in women fashions.  Her style, which was an influenced by puritan function and Victorian charm, became a favorite amongst a whole generation. "Living quite remotely as I have done," she once said”, I have not been caught up with city influences and we just developed in our own way”. She declared about her success: "It's not really a question of inspiration. What you make as a designer is an expression of yourself. I love music and painting and I prefer life in the country." 

A major influence on her dress designing was her uniform as a Wren in World War II. She would later say, "The uniform was a very good quality navy gabardine and you could press it and wear it with a clean white cotton shirt and collar and tie. There was a nice, cheeky little hat and comfortable black leather shoes."  It was during this time that she met and married Bernard Ashley, an engineer in 1949.

As fate would have it, while working as a secretary and raising her first two children, she undertook some development work for the Women Institute on quilt work. Taking up the craft, she had learned with her grandmother, part-time she designed headscarves, napkins, table-mats, and tea towels, which Bernard printed on a machine he had designed in an attic flat.  The couple had invested £10 in wood for the screen frame, dyes, and a few yards of linen.  Very soon after the Ashley’s scarves became a huge success.   So much so that Bernard quit his job and devoted all his efforts to his wife.

In 1975 Laura turned down the offer of an Order of the British Empire (she was upset Bernard had not been offered one). The addition of a home in France enabled Laura to go back to her roots of fabric design, and the company launched its home furnishings collections.
Laura and Sir Bernard were a great complement to each other - both inside the business, and in their personal life. Laura had four children, and loved family life, but the expansion of the business meant the need for an escape point, and for creativity. They bought a house in France in the early 1970s. Sir Bernard's qualification as a pilot enabled them to keep in touch with family and business.

The Ashley children were all involved with the business. Sir Bernard Ashley was the company chairperson and Laura kept a close eye on fabrics. The astonishing success of what proved to be the ultimate cottage industry, bought the Ashley’s a yacht, a private plane, a French chateau in Picady, a town-house in Brussels, and the villa Contenta in Lyford Cay, New Providence, Bahamas, just purchased for $8.5 million dollars by TJ Maloney.

 Unfortunately, fate would again rear its ironic face again.  In 1985, on her 60th birthday, while she was visiting her children in the UK, Laura fell down the stairs and taken to hospital in Coventry, West Midlands; she died 10 days later of a brain hemorrhage.


 As you can see by the photos, the style that she created, is not only beautiful but timeless as well.

All photos were taken from Laura Ashley's Spring into Summer Catalog, 1997.  The last two photos were taken from Laura Ashley, USA.

The Preppy Times


There is nothing like hitting the ocean on a bright sunny day.  If you are lucky enough to own a boat of your own then you know how fun sailing can be.  If you are fortunate enough to have friends who have invited you, then it is important to know a little boat etiquette.

These are some simple little rules for your next sailing excursion.

1.       The skipper is always in charge.  His/her rules are the ones to follow.  Each skipper has a set of rules no matter whom you sail with, and their rules should be adhered.

2.       Bring a small gesture of appreciation.  Usually this is in the form of food.  There is a custom-the captain brings the boat, while the crew brings the food and drink.  Before bringing food, remember to keep it simple.  There is a lot of work to do on a boat so bring food that is easy to eat.

3.       Offer to pay for fuel.  More than likely, since you were invited, the captain will decline but it is good etiquette to offer.

4.       Wear appropriate clothing.  Keep in mind that this isn’t a fashion show so leave those high heels at home.  Clothing should be sturdy and utilitarian.  Boat or canvas shoes will suffice, and remember to pack warm clothing.  Pack them in a soft-sided bag like a duffel when not wearing.

5.       Do not drink.  Becoming inebriated can lead to a host of problems and many safety issues.  Moreover, most of us exhibit a less than desirable image when drunk.  Drinking is for bars not a boat.

6.       Memorize all safety precautions.  You, crew, and the captain’s life may depend on it.  The captain has many other tasks to consider.  Having a crew member who understands how to avoid a potential problem is one less worry for them.

7.       Be considerate.  Remember, it is an honor to receive an invitation to someone’s boat.  Respect goes a long way.

8.       Finally, enjoy yourself.  There is nothing more invigorating relaxing and enjoyable as sailing on the open seas.  Reap the reward of the experience offered to you, bask in the sun, and enjoy.

The Preppy Times