Life Goes to a Party

I gave up resolutions a few years ago. They never really provided any satisfaction, rather just a feeling of defeat following Christmas that I had a weighty to-do list from last year that was left unattended.
Still, I have a few things that give me a mental nudge now and again. Usually about now.
Don’t yell so much. Don’t spend so much time on the computer. Quit biting cuticles. But there is one, a set really, that revolves around being a little braver, trying a few new things, putting my toe over the line every now and again. I’m bad at it and though a very wise man said to me once, “I think the dye is cast,” I start the new year again wishing for a little courage.
These images are from a feature in Life magazine (March 1938) called, “Life Goes to a Party.” Captured here is the revelry of devoted supporters of the Kansas City Art Institute. The guests began this affair at a cocktail party at Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Hart Benton’s (he was a judge for the costume contest) which spilled into a dinner at the Hotel Muehlebach before culminating in the fundraiser itself. (It seems a good bet that everyone at this point was pretty well juiced.) Of Mr. and Mrs. Jon Malang (above), who won the costume contest in both divisions (he took home a case of whiskey and she an airplane trip) Art Institute president, Fred Vincent, said, “This is a disgrace to the Art Institute.”
I’m sure Mr. Vincent’s heart and honor were in the right place. But now that it is all said and done the director’s outrage seems irrelevant, while Mr. and Mrs. Malang still appear to be having a swell time.
Courage. But, maybe wear a shirt.
Images courtesy of Life. Here.
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31 thoughts on “Life Goes to a Party

  1. A shirt, yes. Or the resolve to exercise a bit more regularly! So fun to see those great Regionalist painters cutting loose at such a fashionable event!

  2. T&C – it's almost surreal, isn't it? There are a few nice pictures of Benton home at the link as well.

    David – to you as well.

    Leigh – Thank you! And to you, too.

    Doxa – it makes me wish I had been there.

    AD – I'm not sure a case of whiskey was exactly what he needed, but I'm sure he put it to good use.
    Happy New Year!

    Boxwood – thank you, truly, and Happy New Year to you.

  3. Courage is a great resolve–I'm sure you have tons of it: the question is to simply reveal it. For me, this year is about rejoicing in the imperfect and a bit of vulgar–makes life so much more interesting (so hard when you were raised in a convent school). Have a wonderful New year's celebration–thank you tons for all of the fantastic posts of the past year. xoxo

  4. My secret for courage: let me be the one to break it to you, unlike every thing we were ever told as young girls, there is no, I repeat, no permanent record! Life's an experiment. Keep your shirt on and be bold! All the best to all of the Blandings as you start a new decade in your dream house.

  5. It looks like a fun shindig. And relatively simple too, not like the overwhelming parties one sees photographed in the glossies today. At the end of the day, a party is about the people.

  6. I'm with Mr. Vincent on this one: there was no need to strip down as far as the Dancing Djin did just to prove one's boldness. Rita Hayworth showed that in "Gilda": all it takes is removing one glove. Well, that & a whole lot of hair-tossing. Yowza!

    Still, at least Mr. Malang seemed to be enjoying the party, and really, after a rough year like this last one, isn't that all any of us would like to do? Have a great evening tonight, everyone & keep your shirts on.

    Mrs B., thanks for keeping us amused & entertained in 2009. We all needed it.

  7. Karena – to you and yours as well.

    HBD – I'm not sure that is the case in KC – sometimes I feel like there are mommies out there with very big notebooks.

    AL – I completely agree.

    Lara – I was wondering the same thing! Maybe we should have one (she whispered.)

    RT – I'll let you know just as soon as I figure it out.

    Magna – If I have done that, even a little, then the year was a success. Thanks for stopping in.

  8. everyone has a good point here: life is an experiment, a party is about the people, and many of us do deserve to let loose after this grueling and challenging year. but i do believe it is ok once in a while to rip off the shirt and go a little nuts to shake the gloom away. (1938 was a rough year for many.)

    to 2010 mrs blandings!

  9. Courage is the best word especially as we start a whole new decade. Love how you worked in the KC Art Institute.


  10. "Don't yell so much." ?????/

    C'mon. You have three boys, right? You're entitled. Besides, in a few short years, they'll tower over you and will find you wagging finger amusing. Do it while you can.

    I think the first step in the courage dept. has already been taken. Remember that fabulous slinky leopard print dress you wore recently? The sky didn't fall, the earth is still rotating and I'll bet a lot of the ladies either envied you or cheered. You're on your way!

  11. My sister tells me all the time that the 2 things that govern our actions are "fear" or "control" and that said, a little dose of "courage" or one of my favorite words that comes to mind is "moxie" which I love.
    Happy 2010, full of moxie and festivities!

  12. Dear Mrs. Blandings,

    Stopped by here just after visiting HOBAC this morning. Still a bit dazed over the inspired Crisp quote:

    "What would you be like if there was nobody else in the world? Who would you be if the only opinion that mattered was yours?"

    Might that just be the definition of courage?

    In any event, sorry I missed this party, although it appears a good time was had by all. Other than the rather pissy Mr. Vincent, of course, who sadly, but not unexpectedly, lurks everywhere in life.

    Looking forward to "swilling" quite a few cocktails with you in the coming year.

  13. I make resolutions but end up spending the better part of January-returning gifts, making and attending doctor appointments and taking out a lot of trash. xoxo


  14. Thanks to all the well wishers and shirt rippers!

    Soodie, you summed the whole thing up so nicely.

    And, Gail, thanks for condoning the yelling. Oh, and the dress? That needed no courage – that was a blast.

    EA – point taken about the lurking Mr. Vincents – 2010 will bring a reminder to smile and nod, while ordering the aforementioned cocktail.

    And, finally, ADG. My bare chested days are long over, but I trust your judgement in all things sartorial. Can't wait to see the pictures.

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