Big Boss birthday party at Vizcaya
"The evening honors Deering and his secretary Althea McDowell Altemus, whose memoirs shed new light on Vizcaya's colorful history. After a chance meeting, Althea's grandsons searched for and found the long-lost manuscript and gifted it to Vizcaya. We were astonished by the incredible information it contained about Vizcaya and the life of working women in the period. And we were so impressed by the insight, poignancy and humor of Altemus's stories. Big Bosses places Vizcaya in a dynamic national context and I'm thrilled to share its author's memorable experiences with the world," says Joel Hoffman, Vizcaya's Executive Director. "The Big Boss Birthday party is also the first in a series of programs and activities for the community to celebrate Vizcaya's 100th anniversary."
"Big Bosses: A Working Girl's Memoir of Jazz Age America" is Altemus's 1930 memoir with informative annotations and afterword by Robin F. Bachin, Associate Professor of History and Assistant Provost at the University of Miami. Published by the University of Chicago Press in collaboration with Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (November 2016), Big Bosses is Altemus's account of her life as secretary for James Deering at Vizcaya and other prominent employers in Chicago and New York during the late teens and 1920s. As a single mother she faced special discrimination in the workplace; but Altemus emerges as a courageous and optimistic heroine. Her vivid and often amusing stories convey both the excitement of urban America and challenges of working women in the Jazz Age. The manuscript includes never-before-published illustrations by Miami architect Phineas Paist, who worked on the Vizcaya project and design of Coral Gables.
Big Bosses begins with Altemus' employment as Deering's private secretary. She provides new insight into life at Deering's glamorous Miami estate, with tales of visiting celebrities and weeklong parties. Her memoir then journeys through other notable jobs, including the undercover assignment by the wife of a Chicago executive to find out if her husband is having an affair.
At the Big Boss Birthday party, guests will enjoy an evening in Vizcaya's gardens with light refreshments by Dade County Food Group, historic cocktails, live jazz and entertainment and birthday cake provided by Cloud 9 Bakery. Guests are welcome to dress in the style of Jazz Age America. Books are available for advance order through Books & Books and can be purchased on-site at the event. Tickets to the Big Boss Birthday party are $15 for Vizcaya members, $20 for general admission and may be purchased online at vizcayabigbossbirthday.eventbrite.com.
Vizcaya is located at 3251 South Miami Avenue, Miami, Florida 33129. The publication will also be available at the Vizcaya Café and Shop after the event.
To learn more about Vizcaya Museum and Gardens visit www.vizcaya.org.
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