I met an older lady, in her 80s, yesterday, who if she isn’t truly among the 1% is close enough. And here’s what I learned about her–not from her, since she didn’t talk about herself, but from our mutual friend.
She lives in a small town in Michigan, not a glamorous place at all. She lives in a beautiful late 19th century house built by a founding member of the Republican Party, an ambassador to a European country during the Lincoln administration, a house that is complete with full size ballroom, that she’s restoring to period condition and style. She doesn’t hold lots of balls, she just wants to preserve an important part of the town’s history.
She is a collector of art and antiques. She has an amazing collection of antique toys, many, perhaps most, of which are on loan to a local historical society, which manages an even more amazing 19th century house built by a guy who was a bigwig in Michigan Republican politics in the late 19th century.
She is a volunteer for that historical society. They weren’t open yesterday, but she graciously allowed my friend to give me a tour of the even more amazing house, while she waited patiently in the kitchen. She wasn’t just gracious about allowing us to co-opt her time this way, she was enthused. She seemed so delighted at my appreciation of the house that it almost felt like I was doing her a favor.
She and her late husband have contributed a lot to the restoration of the even more amazing house. When the original carpets in two of the downstairs rooms had to be replaced, they paid for the nearly exact replicas–the only source for them was a company in England–at a cost of about $40,000.
She was dressed casually, in t-shirt and jeans. According to my friend she does her shopping at Wal Mart.
I have no brief for the 1%. But I do have a brief against class-analysis.