While looking through old issues of Courier-Gazette, I came across the July 16, 1889 issue. On the front page, along with the wrong date, was an amazing account of the Grand Opening Celebration of the opening of the Bay Point Club House, a predecessor to the Samoset. I quote from the paper:

“Bay Point is called a club house in order

that objectionable parties may be kept away.

It is now open to the public, and respectable

people are welcome at its broad portals.”

What I came across must be the most extravagant party of that century or any since. The Courier-Gazette’s “two lady reporters were kept busy from 8 o’clock til 2 o’clock” interviewing the ladies in their finery.

Busy does not begin to cover it! These ladies scripted more than 200 descriptions with names and sometimes commentary.

In addition, there is a listing of 30 ladies whose outfits the reporters were unable to get info on. This amazing feat of reporting pales in comparison to typesetting it all.

In the 1880s, each letter printed started with a piece of lead type assembled into words and then sentences by hand and locked into a wooden frame. This was an arduous task that was not always successful.

There are typos in most of the entries.

I ended up reading them all as I copied and pasted the columns into my computer. It reminds me of a Ken Waltz triathlon or golf tourney column with truckloads of data.

In the process I learned a lot about fashion.

As an overview I note the following:

There were plenty of ostrich tips.

Jacqueminot roses were a thing.

Ladies had “ear jewels.”

Chantilly lace existed before the Big Bopper popularized it in the ‘50s.

Passementerie is an ornamental edging or trimming.

All married women were, of course, listed by their husbands’ names. This is unfortunate, as I would have liked to know their first names.

Here are some of my favorites (typos included):

Mrs. J. E. Walker, Thomaston, handsome costume of light blue surab, Empire style, ornamented with gold trimmings, rich gold girdle, necklace of gold and diamonds, corsage bouquet of Marechal Neil roses, carried gold fan.

Miss G. Louise Ayers, ecru lace and moss green plush, sleeveless, with shaded pink ostrich tips on square neck corsage, amber jewelry.

Mrs. John W. Anderson, a handsome gown of black Chantilly lace over silk, drawn with moire ribbon, bodice cut V-neck, and sleeveless, corsage bouquet of pink roses, diamonds.

Mrs. W. H. Glover, elegant trained gown of old rose corded silk, with Persian trimmings, Queen Elizabeth collar, garniture of point lace, diamonds, carried a bouquet of pink asters and cream roses.  

(Her husband built the place!)

As for the single ladies, the reporters felt at ease to the point of commenting about how the ladies looked.

Miss Lizzie Jameson, very prettv gown of cream white India silk, Empire style, girdled by a moire sash, V-neck garniture of Fedora lace, pearl heads and pink roses.

Miss Shepherd, Rockport, becoming gown of black lace, low cut, sleeveless bodice, with garn-iture of cherry ostrich plumes.

Miss Stelia Keene, en Princess costume of pink surah with moire ribbon, duch­esse lace, corsage bouquet of poppies.

Miss Nellie Duncan was becomingly attired in black surah silk, V-neck, sleeveless bodice, corsage bouquet of Jacqueminot roses, neck­lace of gold heads.

This one is for you Grammy Karl.

Glenn Billington is a lifelong resident of Rockland and has worked for The Courier-Gazette and The Free Press since 1989.

Courier-Gazette illustration from July 16, 1889.