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Docent and Lecturer
Orrin and Millie MacyOrrin and Millie Macy have the perfect view of one of Nantucket's most famous landmarks.As you stand on the front steps of their Tom Nevers home, "Moor Easterly," you can see Sankaty Light straight ahead, framed neatly by two large sassafras trees in their drive.They designed their home after the Oldest House, with its big chimney and overall style…only with more windows. How was the decision made to move to Nantucket and build a house?Millie explained: "We were living in Greenwich, Connecticut, in an apartment; real estate prices had skyrocketed there.We'd been to the island on vacation and decided to look at real estate, thinking in terms of retiring…" Orrin added, laughing, "Millie decided-I said, ‘Gee, we can't afford that,' and she said, ‘Let's look!'" Millie: "This was about 1972, and Pocomo was $50,000 an acre then, which was much too much, so we checked with Grace Coffin at Congdon & Coleman, and she told us about a brand-new area, where only six houses had been built…so we had a chance to pick a great site, and we picked this one, and planned the house so we could look at Sankaty Light.We started actually building in March of 1974, and had a shell built…we moved into a ‘wooden tent' in July for vacation, with my mother and aunt," she laughed, "on cots, with plywood floors, and we took it from there.I asked if Millie had Nantucket roots."No," she answered."My parents were both from New Jersey; my father worked for duPont and we moved to Waynesboro, VA, in the Shenandoah Valley, when I was 2 months old. [This explained Millie's slight southern accent.] We lived there until just before World War II, when he was retrained for a ‘smokeless powder' plant out in Indiana."Orrin interjected, "Smokeless powder means you could shoot a gun and no one could tell where it was coming from."Millie continued: "I really didn't know anything about Nantucket…we moved back to Virginia at the end of the war, and I did high school there, and then went to New York to design school-Traphagen.Millie said, "Well, at that point I had become Fabric Editor of Seventeen Magazine, and one of the first people to be in contact with me from the trade was my now good friend Ginny Borland.She was the fashion director of one of the yarn companies, so we had lunch together.She loved to swim and I loved the beach, and we proceeded to go to different islands every year.And one year we went to Montego Bay in Jamaica, and were sitting on the beach, and this man came over and said, ‘Look this way-I want to take a picture.' Which he did."Orrin piped in: "Shall I take over here?"to which Millie answered with a smile, "No, because I tell it right!So that was that…he was with his friend Bob, so we talked a bit, then Ginny and I went out to dinner in town; in the meantime, they came by, and of course we weren't there at our little guesthouse.I ran into him in New York later, probably the end of January.I worked at Park Avenue and 51st; he was working for Family Circle at Madison and 51st, just a block away.We recognized each other…" Orrin begged, "Let me tell it!"and Millie responded with another laugh, "No, because you do it wrong!He said he had these pictures (in a minute, Orrin), and why didn't we invite them over for dinner to see them?And I said, ‘Why don't you ask us out to dinner?'" Orrin said, "That was a very Sagittarian move!"Millie smiled: "Now you can tell your version." This was in November of 1966, and we were married a year later… I thank God for Millie every day-she's wonderful." I wanted to know more about the Macys' careers.Millie said she'd started out in apparel design and design coordination at Traphagen.After admiring a large picture of stunningly beautiful Millie during that period, I asked Orrin about his career.During the war, he was in special services and became editor of a mimeographed paper; after that he was in advertising at Gourmet Magazine for many years.He finished out the last 30 years of his career at New York Times-owned Family Circle magazine.Orrin, who claims he's 82 but certainly doesn't look it, showed me the magazine created for his retirement roast with his picture on the cover; the articles highlighted there were spoofs, such as "My Story in 100 Billion Words" and "Tips on Colorful dressing from Orrin Macy."The magazine also paid for a wonderful trip for Orrin and Millie to Hawaii.Having discovered the land of his fathers in 1949, Orrin says he needed Nantucket in his life.The Macys have always stayed very busy: Orrin does a lot of gardening and has been active with Saltmarsh (and Millie did some of the decorating there), serving on the board for many years and creating their gardens.He's also been on the Transportation Committee, was a docent and lecturer at the Whaling Museum, and still plays a mean guitar…when he was at Family Circle he and his talented friends, all successful businesspeople, formed a swing band.Millie didn't stop her sewing and designing when the couple moved to Nantucket."When we were still in Connecticut, " she said, "I went to the New York School of Interior Design and got into the design business, worked for a designer in Greenwich, and a few years after we moved here I worked for Sandy Holland at Nantucket House Antiques, both in the shop and in the design studio."Orrin proudly stated that Millie made her first fancy dress at age 12, and "there was never a ball or an event or a dance she went to that she wasn't the best dressed woman there…and she always made her gowns."Millie has also studied watercolor with Katie Trinkle-Legge, and showed me several lovely pieces hanging in the living room.But now the Macys are busy in another way.Sadly, they've put their house on the market and will move to North Carolina, where Millie's people live, so they're painting, cleaning, sprucing up."But we'll come back and back," they both said.Orrin commented, "Being a Macy, I've gotta come back here, and Millie has a lot of great friends here who she loves."