Bill Coffin was born in the city of New York, watching the Empire State Building rise above the skyline. He lived a full boy's life: he played at home, attended the Buckley School for Boys by day, and spent summers exploring the estate on Long Island. His “most intimate relations” were with servants who functioned as surrogate parents: the Swiss governess, Mademoiselle Lovey, and the chauffeur, Bach. The governess clearly adored the children, or at least the boys, who remembered her with tremendous affection. The chauffeur taught Bill to box, a school activity encouraged by the combative lyrics of the school song: “Face your foes and fight them, / Up, my lads, and smite them. / Better to die than to retreat.” With Bach in attendance one Father's Day, Bill won Buckley's featherweight boxing title.
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