Society: Open End

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The young girls' faces were pert, their clothes chic, their hair saucily teased. The boys were two-buttoned, stripe-tied, and fit. Their names on the Pan Am flight list could be taken from any U.S. school or college roster—Paine, Prentice, Chrysler,Cushing, Welch. Their fathers were businessmen, and about half could be found in the Social Register. Where were they going? To a coming out party at Britain's ancient Blenheim Palace for an American friend, Serena Russell, who also happens to be the granddaughter of the tenth Duke of Marlborough.

The vast old palace,...

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