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A 1920 Honeymoon Scrapbook

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 14:25

Item of the Week From the East Hampton Library Long Island Collection

How exactly did one take a selfie without a mirror before the advent of the smartphone?

Cyrus Stegner Kauffman (1892-1982) and Elizabeth Dewing Macy Kauffman (1897-1972), newlyweds, would have been happy to explain in their honeymoon scrapbook — they used an actual stick to press the shutter button on their Kodak camera as they posed on the beach.

The Kauffmans came to East Hampton from Boston on their honeymoon, staying at what is now the Home, Sweet Home Museum. The couple recorded their adventures in a scrapbook, which is part of the museum’s archive now being digitized in the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection.

The couple visited here as guests of the Bueks, who were probably friends or relatives, following their Aug. 20, 1920, wedding. Gustav Buek, a lithograph publisher, and his wife, Hannah, bought Home, Sweet Home in 1907, saving the building and creating a memorial to John Howard Payne, the playwright and songwriter.

The Kauffmans arrived at Sag Harbor by boat, reaching Home, Sweet Home at dusk as they heard choirboys practicing at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church down the street. In their description of their lodgings, the Kauffmans noted that one could see to the Maidstone Club from their window and hear ocean waves in the distance.

The couple went to the beach on a Sunday, observing the gray umbrellas that members of high society hid under, and delighted in the Colonial décor of their lodgings. Elizabeth Kauffman and Hannah Buek visited an antiques and tea shop in the neighboring windmill, and the Bueks took their guests to tea with the artist Thomas Moran at his home and studio.

Mr. Kauffman, the scrapbook’s main narrator, expressed a playful attitude combined with an intense awareness of appearances and others’ perceptions. This awareness, along with his appreciation of dreaming, happiness, and rest, feels very in keeping with F. Scott Fitzgerald and other writers of his generation.

Andrea Meyer is a librarian and archivist in the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection.

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