Remembering Bet Wynhausen

Bet Wynhausen in her New York loft, 1983
Bet Wynhausen in her New York loft, 1983

Bet Wynhausen in her New York loft, 1983

Bet called me Laurette, and introduced me to New York, her New York. I had been sent to cover the America’s Cup, the one we won, not that any Americans we met knew it was their’s to loose, Bet was going to be writing the words.

We had a few days before we had to make our way to Newport, so I stayed at her fabulous loft, just north of Canal on Broadway.

The first morning sitting at her long kitchen table drinking coffee from the bottomless coffee pot and eating poached plums – a specialty –  smoking because we smoked then, a  small line of people appeared from the back of the loft and disappeared out the front door…Bet made no comment. Later she explained the reason she had such a fabulous deal on the loft was because the people living at the back of the building had right of way through her loft. Bet’s New York was to be found in the lower rougher edges of the city.

A wonderful bar in the early alphabet streets run by Nicaraguans Who made sensational Margaritas, we drank, we smoked, I think we may have even danced, the Russian bath house on the lower east side was another favourite., manned by large women in very sensible underwear who scrubbed you raw.

Breakfast at a Diary restaurant, where the waiter barked the 26 options, toasted, untoasted, onions , no onions, for a simple lox and bagel with such ferociousness it left me cringing under the table.

Then we went up-town to shop, I thought, but Bet had another agenda we cruised the cosmetic counters at Barneys, where she knew most saleswomen by name and collected samples, enough to keep us in face cream for a month…..

We went to Newport, I photographed and she wrote about one of the most memorable sporting wins in Australian history, we had a ball….most Americans were still non the wiser.

Bet was a wonderful, loyal friend, a terrific writer and the world is less funny without her.

Miss you Bet, Laurette.

There are some example of Bet’s wonderful writing at the link below. http://elisabethwynhausen.com


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Comments 13

  1. Remembering Elizabeth. What a story you’ve told.
    Do you recall a photo y0u took for SMH of me ‘and a photocopier’ and my printer Anne-Marie Richardson clipped it as her being a ‘photocopier’?

  2. Great memories of Elizabeth.

    A wonderful writer – a leader in the OZ pack. A sometimes frightening impassioned intellect and never a fear of speaking her mind and expressing an opinion. A gracious and generous host. Boxing Day at the start of the Sydney Hobart and the Melbourne Test ….. irreplaceable memories.

    Wherever Elizabeth is I doubt if she would think much of our Australian and International Politik …..

  3. Hi Lorrie
    Sorry for this loss of your friend. Precious memories, thanks for sharing them.

  4. Nice one, Lorrie. I had huge respect for her work, particularly Dirt Cheap, which was an enormously challenging research and writing task. Vale.

  5. still miss you Bet (or Elisabeth as she later wanted to be known).
    You were fabulous and funny and one of the best writers around.
    And how you would’ve relished the Trump era!

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  6. Yep, plums were her signature dish.
    What a gal, and what would she have said of our country now?
    Miss you mean it Bet.

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  7. Wow! Thanks Lorrie for a beautiful word picture . I could smell the coffee and taste the bagels.

    Sounds like Bet loved life and lived it well in the mighty NYC

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  8. I ate plums a la Bet in Bondi and was scrubbed raw alongside her at a bathhouse in Istanbul. I should have known she’d done it all before. Thanks so much for the glimpse of the New York days – Bet seemed to think they were her best.

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