Too Good to Be True: The Life and Work of Leslie Fiedler

By Mark Royden Winchell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIXTEEN
Till the Tree Die

EARLY IN THE third chapter of The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway remarks:

I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby's house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited—they went there. They got into automobiles which bore them out to Long Island and somehow they ended up at Gatsby's door. Once there they were introduced by somebody who knew Gatsby and after that they conducted themselves according to the rules of behavior associated with amusement parks. Sometimes they came and went without having met Gatsby at all, came for the party with a simplicity of heart that was its own ticket of admission. 1.

For nearly a decade, a 1960s' equivalent of Gatsby's parties took place at 154 Morris Avenue in Buffalo every Fourth of July. At first, the guests were invited friends of Leslie and Margaret Fiedler and however many of their six children happened to be living at home. But pretty soon the word got around that this was the place to be. Carloads of people would arrive from Buffalo and the surrounding area and, in some cases, from neighboring states. The festivities would begin some time around noon and would continue until midnight or later. The center of activity would periodically shift from the poolroom on the third floor of the house to the swimming pool out back. As the revelers got progressively intoxicated on their substance of choice, they would settle on a victim to be thrown, fully clothed, into the pool. The celebration was not considered complete without loud music and at least a couple of visits from the local police. On one occasion, Michael Fiedler tossed a watermelon rind through a neighbor's open window.

____________________
1.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 45.

-249-

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