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ďWhy I spend my nights in a maintenance shed in West Palm BeachĒ - an exclusive interview with Palm Beachís fabulous Silver Spur

Interview by Bob Alman
Posted February 21, 2003
Related Links
Courtside Chats with Reg Bagford, Robert Fulford, Chris Clarke, and other croquet stars

The in-print interview is one of the favorite forms of Croquet World Online Magazine editor Bob Alman, who has interviewed many croquet notables in his ďCourtside ChatĒ series. So it wasnít surprising that Alman chose the interview format when the president of the board of Croquet Enterprises, the operating arm of the National Croquet Center, asked him to ďget publicityĒ for a car raffle to support the start-up operating expenses of the new Center. The fact is that construction was costlier than planned, and insufficient capital was available to fund the two- to three-year period of development one would usually expect for a new and unprecedented enterprise to achieve financial self-sufficiency. The exquisite 1986 Rolls Royce Silver Spur spends every day prominently displayed in the grassy center of the traffic circle in front of the clubhouse. Thatís where Alman, with some misgivings, approached Silver Spur to conduct the interview on a bright, still morning in late February.

THIS LADY BELONGS IN PALM BEACH! Though temporarily housed in West Palm Beach, Silver Spur is daily in the company of such ladies as (left to right) Josephine Stetson, June Jackson, Patricia Duncan, Gaye Turter, Ruth Summers, Lee Little, and Helen Jones.

Bob: Iíve come to interview you about the raffle.
(long silence).
The raffle is coming up pretty soon, and not many tickets have been sold.
(long silence).
With your beauty and elegance and refinement, it must hurt your feelings to be so little regarded that fewer than 100 tickets have been sold Ė just a fraction of your worth!

Silver: How dare you! Right off the bat, youíre living up to your reputation for arrogance. And such a questionÖ! Who do you think you are, Barbara Walters?

Bob: Iím flattered by the comparison, and I donít mean any disrespect. You have known nothing but the Palm Beach lifestyle, and now youíre spending your nights in a maintenance shed flanked by greasy lawn mowers and stacks of fertilizer. How do you feel about that?

Silver: I wouldnít expect someone from the Mississippi piney woods to understand. But for me, itís refreshing, for a change, itís like camping out, and itís only for a short time. Besides, itís for charity. Palm Beach ladies will do anything for charity.

Palm Beach ladies will do anything for charity.

Bob: But what kind of charity is croquet? Whenever I ask people to give me money for croquet, they say, ďOh sure, Bob, just as soon as we feed all the hungry people and shelter all the homeless, thatís when Iíll write you a big check for croquet!Ē

Silver: People who say things like that only reveal the depths of their ignorance. Donít they know the National Croquet Center gives away absolutely free golf croquet programs for the public and high school and college kids? All the coaches and rec directors have to do is just call and reserve. And thatís not even to speak of the excellent free introductory course in golf croquet you teach every Saturday morning at ten. Thatís the only reason Iím giving you this interview, by the way. And we havenít even talked about all the workers at the hotels and the restaurants and the airports and the car rental agencies that are employed because people come to this Center from all over the country and all over the world. We ARE feeding the hungry, and we ARE sheltering the homeless, and besides that, we have these wonderful free programs for youth. And with this beautiful showcase, weíre promoting a fine sport that people donít know much about.

Bob: Youíd be an excellent flak, Silver. Itís too bad you canít be in our speakers bureau and go out talk to business groups and civic clubs about the Center. Now, Silver, It hurts me to ask you this, but I have to do it, my readers expect it: You are so beautiful and elegant, and in such impeccable trim, really perfect. Tell me, have you had any work done?

Silver: (chuckling softly) Thatís such a ridiculous question, Iím not even going to answer it! Iím been pampered and cared for since my chassis first saw the light of day in 1985. I have seldom left the confines of Palm Beach, garaged every night in Breakers Row. Iím a teenager, for godís sake! Of course I havenít had any work done!

Bob: I had to ask, Silver, and I do apologize, but someone told me that your hubcaps alone are listed at $4,000 apiece in the catalogues, andÖ

Silver: If you persist in asking these impertinent questions about anatomy, I will end this interview!

Bob: All right, all right. You mentioned the garage in Breakers Row, where you enjoyed the constant company of Mercedes and Lamborghiniís and others of your class. I understand what you said about ďcamping out,Ē but it must be uncomfortable, given your backgroundÖ

Silver: You know, Bob, Palm Beach is great, itís unique, itís truly a magical isle, but itís also tiny and provincial in its way. A true Palm Beacher recognizes itís just a retreat on a sandbar, and that the real world is so much bigger and more diverse. For me, being here until the raffle at the Croquet Ball on March 15 is not a problem, I would not like to live here forever, but for the present, itís an adventure I can dine out on for at least a season or two.

Bob: What adventure, I donít get itÖ???

Silver: The gossip alone is priceless. You should hear what the maintenance crew knows about some of your members! And that Archie Peck! An amazing man! When does he sleep? True, heís the sportís only four-time national singles champion, but that was a long time ago! He gets here at dawn and starts with the coffee and the donuts and the newspaper and the cigarettes, and then he pounds wickets and teaches croquet, and just keeps going, his batteries never run down! And the phone! That cell phone should be wired to his brain, he spends his life on the phone, he talks to everyone all day long, and he knows everything about everyone! Oh, the things I could tell youÖ!!

Bob: Like what?

Silver: Sorry. There are certain protocols to be observed, even with gossip. Especially with gossip.

Bob: But even admitting the fun of ďcamping outĒ and the treasure trove of gossip, donít you feel youíre kind of slumming here in West Palm Beach?

Silver: Slumming? Here? Take a look around you. Does this look like West Palm Beach? These immaculate grounds, this wonderful building with those broad verandas and teak and wicker furniture? And inside, the exquisite Brazilian cherry wood floors, the mahogany paneling, the antiques, the Persian carpets, the coffered ceilings! VERY Palm Beach, more Palm Beach than most places in Palm Beach. Understated elegance, through and through. Serene and understated, very much my style. Itís not as if weíre way out in the great western wilderness in Loxahatchee. I can get you to the Breakers in 13 minutes flat from this spot, and with my soft, luxurious interiors and gas-filled shocks, itíll feel more like four and youíll be sorry when the ride is over.

Bob: Good point. But look, arenít you worried that the wrong person could win the raffle? I mean, itís not a cinch that someone in Palm Beach would win. It could conceivably be some low-class gangster, somebody taking advantage of sheltered assets under the Florida Homestead Law, with a 14 million dollar Palm Beach homeÖ?

Silver: Not likely. Itís a matter of taste. Somebody like that would go after the glitz and the glitter and out-front opulence of, say, Mar-a-Lago. Somebody like that would have a Porsch and play golf, never croquet, never the National Croquet Center. They simply wouldnít get it. But IĒm not worried about me, Iím worried about YOU right now. Those players on Court One are looking at you moving your lips and gesturing. They think youíre nuts. Look up at the sky, pretend to be singing a song, donít move your lips any more!

Bob: Youíre right. All the sylladles should e ith the teeth and tongue, no ooding its.

Silver: Right, no moving lips. But theyíre still eyeing us. Weíd better quit while weíre ahead. No, donít look at me, look at the sky, the birds, the waving palm frondsÖ

Bob: Right again. Ank oo, Silder Stir, and good luck!

Silver: Good luck to you too. Youíll need it!

RAFFLE INFORMATION: The Raffle for the 1986 Rolls Royce Silver Spur will be conducted March 15 at the National Croquet Center during the annual Croquet Ball. You do not have to be present to win. A donation of $100 payable to the Croquet Foundation of American is requested for each raffle ticket. Call 561-478-2300 and say the words, Silver Spur.

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