May Isabel Medina Govin Cards
– 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 renowned racehorse 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.
© May Isabel Medina Govin 1920’s – 1930’s –
Mothermay married late at age 30. She told me she could not make 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 Avenue 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 a 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 these cards, she liked luxurious, hand-made things as did her wealthy contemporaries 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.