My mother writes about her Grandmother -
May Isabel Medina Govin
Was born in l870 in New York City. Her Mother was Mary Purdy (later
called May or Bunny in the family) and her father was Federico Medina -
a Spanish nobleman and gambler, much disliked by her grandfather, a
distinguished inhabitant of Staten Island, New York. He was a part
owner of a reknowned race horse named Eclipse who won the Kentucky
Derby. Mary Purdy eloped with the Spaniard who later became a gambler
and a drinker. I met a Spanish Count once who told me that he thought
we were related as he had had a relative with the same name who later
committed suicide over gambling debts. In any case, Mothermay (as we
called her) was raised in a very European environment - her Mother was
musical and knew many singers (Sarah Bernhardt) and musicians of her
time, especially in Madrid and Paris.
up her mind. But eventually, in the largest Catholic Cathedral in New
York she married Rafael Govin. He was an international lawyer,
partner of J,P.Morgan and owner of sugar plantations and newspapers
(the Havana Post and elMundo) in Havana, Cuba. He also owned the
International Color Printing Company in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. and the
Elmira Star Gazette among other things. He became a friend of King
Alfonso of Spain who shared his love and interest in newspapers.
Mothermay loved to gamble (her father?) It was fun to go to
Jai-lai games with her in Florida - she almost always won. And at
Horse races she invariably could pick winners - sometimes by the way
the horses looked, or the name of the jockey or the sire. Grandfather
Govin would take Mothermay to Monte Carlo 3 times a year for gambling.
According to Helen. she broke the bank 3 times!. They lived a very
international life with a houses in Havana and Madrid, a mansion on
Massachusetts in Washington (just opposite the Greek Embassy) an
apartment in New York, and seasonal stays at the Grand Hotel in Monte
Carlo, and other hotels in Paris, Aix-en-Provence and other "watering
spots" around Europe.
Tragically, Grandfather Govin died of a heart attack during as
stay in Monte Carlo. He was only 59 and at the height of his career.
As a lawyer, he did not believe in wills, so he died intestate. What
could be recovered - and a lot was and a lot was not.
As is evident from the cards you are copying, she liked
luxurious, hand-made things as did her wealthy comtemporaries of the
time. But she was generous to a fault, a loving and doting
grandmother, represented a way of life that disappeared three
generations ago. There are still plenty of rich people but i think the
taste, the grace has mostly left the modern world. I am sending this
off now as I must go but I will write more about Mothermay in the