Old-School Social Networking on Sutton Place

Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

May 22, 1957, Vol. II, No. 30

The Village Square

By John Wilcock

The apartment is on Sutton Terrace -- a nice address -- and anybody with nothing much to do on a Saturday night would probably welcome the invitation to a party there.

The hosts, Arnold Jacoby, 34, and Tim Birnbaum, 30, have given about half a dozen so far, and plan on giving more when the weather gets cooler. There's nothing unorthodox about the parties at all, save for the way in which they recruit guests. They stick up green handwritten posters on Village lamp posts.

"There are a lot of people around who like to meet new friends," Tim says. "Nice people, ordinary people, not just potential lonely hearts. We thought we'd give them a chance to meet each other and us too."

Guests are screened over the phone, and Tim, an adman, claims that he can tell instinctively whether they're nice people. He tries to maintain an equal ratio of men to women and charges all guests $2, which pays for the food, the gin punch, and occasional redecorating of the apartment. "Sometimes we're accused of being in it to make money," he says, "but honestly, when you've laid out $100 for drinks alone and your total take (80 guests) is $160, that's just not the case."

Girl callers are sometimes suspicious (but intrigued), and Birnbaum reassures them by referring their inquiries to previous female guests. So far, he says, guests have behaved so well there haven't been any unpleasant incidents, but at all parties he has some of his own friends, male and female, who function unobtrusively in the manner of house dicks.

Some people bring guitars and other musical instruments, but most people just bring their well-mannered selves. "We don't organize anything, not even games," Tim adds. "But within about half an hour after the party starts you'd think all the guests had known each other for years."

The mailing list is now approaching 400, with actors, writers, doctors, and college seniors predominating. If you want to join it, give Tim a call. His number's TE8-9--8.

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956. John Wilcock is still going strong at ojaiorange.com]


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