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Philadelphia certainly has an unexpected collection of shared beliefs about status symbols. An elderly socialite gentleman who lives in the Main Line retirement community -- he calls it a nursing home -- was recently chatting at a cocktail party. The topic of the Mafia came up. Oh, yes, he had known Angie Bruno very well. The Don set up one of his nephews in business with a shipyard near the Corinthian yacht club, and the family ran an outstanding business there storing and maintaining pleasure boats from the nearby yacht club. Since the average yacht owner spends ten hours fixing up his boat for every hour he spends sailing it, it was at this meeting place that two social worlds you might not ever expect to meet, actually became quite friendly. You can get some idea of the boats in question by the fact that this one needed eight crew members, and could not manage without at least five.
|Mercedes, a 250 SL|
Our socialite had bought a two-seater Mercedes, a 250 SL, which looked very sporty parked by the dry-dock. Angie's nephew took an immediate fancy to it and went out to get himself one, except he bought a 350 SL, four years more modern. It was not long, however, before he found he had to get rid of it. It seems the family had assembled and highly disapproved of such ostentation, ordering the ship chandler to get something else to drive. So, he approached the socialite who liked such cars and offered a deal. If a fair price for the older car could be obtained from a dealer, the boatyard manager was willing to sell him the newer one for exactly that price. That seemed like a great opportunity until subjected to a little quiet reflection. The two men looked very similar from behind, so driving that fancy car he could easily be mistaken for the former owner. There could then possibly be an unfortunate accident, involving gunfire. So, no thanks, it's very generous of you to make that offer but I'm afraid I can't accept it.
And then? Well, about a week later the parking space was filled by a new car. A Ford Crown Victoria was there, something deemed much more suitable for a ship repair manager's various needs.
Originally published: Monday, November 19, 2007; most-recently modified: Friday, May 17, 2019