“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whispering and the champagne and the stars”
– “The Great Gatsby,” F. Scott Fitzgerald
The current window display at the Solon Public Library celebrates the building’s 10th anniversary. We considered several grand parties in American literature as models for the exhibit:
Thomas Wolfe, the brilliant and tragic author from Ashville, N.C., wrote “You Can’t Go Home Again” in 1940, which includes a description of an elegant dinner party in a Park Avenue apartment in New York City, in the autumn of 1929…” a wonderful scene of white and black and gold…and loveliness.”
Truman Capote, another Southern writer, held a gala Black and White Ball in 1966 to celebrate the success of his book “In Cold Blood.” The classic sophistication of this event, held at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, earned it the title “party of the century.” Guests like Jack Kennedy and Greta Garbo, dressed in black or white and wore exotic masks, while dancing to music from pianist Peter Duchin.
We all agreed that F. Scott Fitzgerald described the best parties in his “Great Gatsby.” Fitzgerald and Zelda, his beautiful wife, were the golden couple of the Jazz Age, and many of their escapades appear in his books.
The library window sets the party in an old mossy garden, with ferns and calla lilies, the flower of the 1920s. Old books and wooden card catalog drawers serve as tables for the caviar, oysters on the half shell, and shrimp. Champagne and cake complete the feast. If you listen carefully, perhaps you can hear soft laughter and an orchestra playing as the guests arrive.
The exhibit remains open until Sept. 30. The library does have a well-worn copy of “The Great Gatsby.”
Special thanks for their assistance to Jack Neuzil, Nancy Wehrheim, and Ellie of Deluxe Cakes and Pastries of Iowa City.