Well La-Di-Da

A Wonderful Time coverA Wonderful Time: An Intimate Portrait of the Good Life

Submitter: This relic was one of many taking up space on our small, rural high school library shelves. When we found it, I thought, “What the heck are we saying to our kids with this?” All about American aristocracy, and the title suggests this is what they should strive for. After tediously weeding through¬† this archaic collection, we have decided to hang on to this one. What better way to show our school board that updating a collection is important?

Holly: It’s the Rich Kids of Instagram of the 1970s (only WASP-ier)!


horse drawn carriage

Fancy dinner


Woman and dog

Car and yachts

Car and house


  1. It would be a painful sacrifice, to be sure, but if you forced me to swap my lifestyle for theirs, I think I could manage it.

  2. They still publish books like this, though, and while the styles may be outdated, they otherwise look pretty much the same. Smiling rich white people posing in their over-decorated living rooms. I could see books like these being of interest for devotees of decorating and architecture, but why would they want to endure a bunch of grinning twits blocking their views of both?

  3. I would love to have any of the cars in the pictures, oh and the carriage too.
    Second from the last picture, is that an MG Midget? My dad had one one time, it looked awesome, but had a lot of problems, and was a 1977 model, I think.
    The picture with the carriage in it, the way the couple is standing, reminds me of American Gothic painting, but the aristocrat version.
    Maybe this was created when the Life and Times With Robin Leech was popular. I guess now it would be MTV’s pimp my crib, or whatever it is actually called. (Can you guess I don’t watch MTV?)

  4. Actually, except for the beach tea party, where you might want to sit back, relax and snack, it all looks incredibly boring. Apparently the good life is basically a lot of sitting and yakking in uncomfortable clothing. To be fair, I suffer from motion sickness, so I don’t have much interest in boats, cars or carriages. But if they had shown someone lounging on their fancy furniture reading a good book, I would be more inclined to want to trade!

  5. Here is the description from AbeBooks, which happens to be selling a “fine condition” copy with gilt edging for $560. “Slim Aarons, the author, was a famous photojournalist with terrific insider connections and takes the reader around the Western hemisphere visiting the rich and famous in their habitats. Vivid full-color world-class photography gives this “peek behind the curtains” its collectible quality. A Wonderful Time is a book about Snowmass, Tom Watson, Bermuda, Nonie Phipps, San Francisco, Harold Vanderbilt, Newport, Cee Zee Guest, Palm Springs, Commander Whitehead, New York, Lilly Pulitzer, New Orleans, T. S. Eliot, Jamaica, Minnie Cushing, Washington, Damon Gadd, Beverly Hills, Mrs. Atwater Kent, Boston, the Rockefellers, The King Ranch, Merle Oberon, Sugarbush, Cecil Beaton, Scottsdale, Brenda Frazier, Baltimore, Angie Duke, Palm Beach, Eva Gabor, Acapulco, Burl Ives, Long Island, The Duchess of Windsor, La Jolla, Peter Widener, Chicago, Babe Paley, Nassau, Robert Lion Gardiner, Grosse Pointe, Mary Hemingway, Stowe, Mike Phipps, Bailey’s Beach, Gloria Guinness, The Exumas, Herb Caen, Romanoff’s, Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, Lake Forest, Jock Whitney, The Bath and Tennis Club, Mary Martin, Aspen, Truman Capote, Hobe Sound, Cobina Wright, Montego Bay, Howard Hughes, The Waldorf, Fleur Cowles, Dallas, Peter Pulitzer, The Myopia Hunt Club, Dolly Fritz and a lot of other people having a wonderful time.”

  6. I guess it goes to show that no matter how posh your taste in the day, people will always laugh at it 40 years later. Although even this seems so stuffy and old-fashioned for the 70s. They all seem like they’re trying way too hard. But then, what do I know? I’m just a prole. My clothes are probably a lot more comfortable, though.

  7. Those people sitting on the ground look fantastically uncomfortable. If your life is so good, get your guests some chairs!

    1. It’s the kind of hunting with horses and foxhounds. (I live near there… during the polo matches the grounds are thrown open to the populace, who are allowed to replace divots on the field between chukkas.)

  8. I believe the little entitled tots are sitting in the Hotel Carlyle ballroom. These murals are gone; but the better-known murals in the Caf√© Carlyle and in Bemelman’s bar have been preserved. If the art style looks familiar, it is because they are by Ludwig Bemelmans, author and artist of Madeline, who exchanged art in lieu of rent when he lived at the Carlyle. Which seems like a pretty Wonderful Time of its own! I doubt very much whether the same sort of deal could be worked today.

  9. It was essentially “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” in book form.

    We still have this stuff, but it’s mostly in the form of Internet gossip now.

  10. How is this any different from People, E!, and every other gossip rag that celebritates the crass or unattainable. At least some of these people did more than “star” in a reality television show or show their knickers (or lack thereof) to the paparazzi. Of course it doesn’t belong in a high school library in 2014, but at least it’s not inherently horrible like toddlers in satanic cults.

  11. All but the picnic shot looks so posed.
    But what struck me was the woman with the three small children and the small convertible. No way they could all go in the car at the same time. But then I doubt she takes out more than one at a time. Probably there is a nanny out of shot.

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