MAINE CHANCE AND
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AFTER BESSIE–S DEATH, ELIZABETH–S two properties in Maine held little attraction for her. As the estate was beautiful and, in Elizabeth’s eyes, lent itself perfectly to rest and relaxation, she simply added ‘reducing’ to the equation and turned it into a business venture. There were several, mainly quite spartan, spas in America at that time but nothing to compare with the sybaritic charms of Maine Chance, America’s first luxury health and beauty farm. Elizabeth poured energy and cash into the project, hiring Rue Carpenter to oversee the decoration, building guest cottages, landscaping the grounds, fitting steam rooms, exercise rooms, soundproofed treatment rooms, vast kitchens and a sprung-floor dance studio. A beautiful swimming pool with cabanas and changing rooms with striped green-and-white canvas awnings was installed. She bought a teakwood motor launch and charming wicker hooded sunloungers. Butlers in formal dress would deliver fruit juices to guests taking the afternoon sun, serving them from solid silver salvers.
Maine Chance had a soft opening in the summer of 1934, when Elizabeth held a Democratic rally in Bessie’s memory, bringing up her VIP guests by private rail car from New York and offering a choice of menus including her famous ‘light diet’ devised by Gaylord Hauser. Hauser’s menus were so mouth-watering, it’s hard to believe anyone went hungry.
One essential was that clients drank a pint of freshly made vegetable juice – usually 75% cabbage and 25% celery, both good diuretics. His famous ‘Hauser broth’ was made by adding a cup of celery, including leaves, a cup of shredded carrot, half a cup of spinach, some shredded parsley, a teaspoon of