Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton. Do not think that I am very much impressed by that as a boxing title, but it meant a lot to Cohn. He cared nothing for boxing, in fact he disliked it, but he learned it painfully and thoroughly to counteract the feeling of inferiority and shyness he had felt on being treated as a Jew at Princeton. There was a certain inner comfort in knowing he could knock down anybody who was snooty to him, although, being very shy and a thoroughly nice boy, he never fought except in the gym. He was Spider Kelly’s star pupil. Spider Kelly taught all his young gentlemen to box like featherweights, no matter whether they weighed one hundred and five or two hundred and five pounds. But it seemed to fit Cohn. He was really very fast. He was so good that Spider promptly overmatched him and got his nose permanently flattened. This increased Cohn’s distaste for boxing, but it gave him a certain satisfaction of some strange sort, and it certainly improved his nose. In his last year at Princeton he read too much and took to wearing spectacles. I never met any one of his class who remembered him. They did not even remember that he was middleweight boxing champion.
The Sun Also Rises
“Still — I was married in the middle of June,” Daisy remembered, “Louisville in June! Somebody fainted. Who was it fainted, Tom?”
“Biloxi,” he answered shortly.
“A man named Biloxi. ‘blocks’ Biloxi, and he made boxes — that’s a fact — and he was from Biloxi, Tennessee.”
“They carried him into my house,” appended Jordan, “because we lived just two doors from the church. And he stayed three weeks, until Daddy told him he had to get out. The day after he left Daddy died.” After a moment she added as if she might have sounded irreverent, “There wasn’t any connection.”
“I used to know a Bill Biloxi from Memphis,” I remarked.
“That was his cousin. I knew his whole family history before he left. He gave me an aluminum putter that I use to-day.”
The music had died down as the ceremony began and now a long cheer floated in at the window, followed by intermittent cries of “Yea-ea-ea!” and finally by a burst of jazz as the dancing began.
“We’re getting old,” said Daisy. “If we were young we’d rise and dance.”
“Remember Biloxi,” Jordan warned her. “Where’d you know him, Tom?”
“Biloxi?” He concentrated with an effort. “I didn’t know him. He was a friend of Daisy’s.”
“He was not,” she denied. “I’d never seen him before. He came down in the private car.”
“Well, he said he knew you. He said he was raised in Louisville. Asa Bird brought him around at the last minute and asked if we had room for him.”
“He was probably bumming his way home. He told me he was president of your class at Yale.”
Tom and I looked at each other blankly.
“First place, we didn’t have any president ——”
Gatsby’s foot beat a short, restless tattoo and Tom eyed him suddenly.
“By the way, Mr. Gatsby, I understand you’re an Oxford man.”
“Oh, yes, I understand you went to Oxford.”
“Yes — I went there.”
A pause. Then Tom’s voice, incredulous and insulting: “You must have gone there about the time Biloxi went to New Haven.”
Another pause. A waiter knocked and came in with crushed mint and ice but, the silence was unbroken by his “thank you” and the soft closing of the door. This tremendous detail was to be cleared up at last.
“I told you I went there,” said Gatsby.
“I heard you, but I’d like to know when.”
“It was in nineteen-nineteen, I only stayed five months. That’s why I can’t really call myself an Oxford man.”
Tom glanced around to see if we mirrored his unbelief. But we were all looking at Gatsby.
The Great Gatsby
But for Trump, the ultimate insult came at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. “Everybody wanted me to make a keynote speech,” Trump told me. “People were writing me thousands of letters and emails, all going crazy.” Yet despite the pleading of these vast letter-writing multitudes, the Romney campaign turned him down. Trump was indignant. “What, I wouldn’t say the right thing?” he told me. “Hey, I went to the Wharton School of Finance. I did great.” Anyway, as consolation, the campaign said he could produce a short video to show at the convention — but in the end, even that got scuttled. . .
“Somehow, when you go to Wharton, you don’t go back,” Trump told a biographer in 2005. “It’s not a knock on Queens … [but] you go to a school like that, and you do well at the school, and you know, somehow you want to break out of that mold. I think it brought me into a different world.”
The rough-edged rich kid from Jamaica Estates had spent his teens swaggering his way through high school at an upstate military academy. But at Waspy, well-mannered Wharton, Trump’s shtick didn’t have the same winning effect. When, one day shortly after transferring to the school, he stood up in a business class and cockily declared his intention to become “the king of New York real estate,” his classmates reacted with snickers and eye-rolling. . .
“You know, in Palm Beach there’s an in-crowd and an out-crowd and no matter how much money he has, he will never be a part of Palm Beach’s inner circle,” socialite Marlene Rathgeb told the Miami Herald in 1986, adding, “The fact that Trump is Jewish and because he’s nouveau riche turns a lot of people off.” When a rumor circulated that he’d been denied membership to the exclusive Bath & Tennis Club, Trump furiously disputed the claim, insisting even decades later, “I can get in if I wanted to. If I wanted to, I can get anything. I’m the king of Palm Beach.”
When the whole nasty ordeal was finally over and Mar-a-Lago was his, Trump looked endlessly for ways to take revenge on his stuck-up neighbors. He had DJs blast music loud enough for all the “stuffy cocksuckers” in town to hear. In 2006, he installed an 80-foot flagpole in brazen defiance of local zoning ordinances, and then left it up for six months — a towering middle finger to the Palm Beach pooh-bahs who were heaping fines on him.
The last quote is from this very interesting portrait of Trump. Also interesting is the authorial/editorial choice to let the Palm Beach social gatekeeper’s identification of Trump as Jewish go uncorrected.