An article in Monday's Style section about a party in Middleburg incorrectly identified the caterer. The Red Fox Inn and Tavern of Middleburg provided the food.
The counterculture of the '80s has revealed itself.
No longer do members of the establishment quit their jobs, grow their hair and join a commune. They quit their jobs, buy 114 acres of Middleburg land complete with stables, stalls, barns and arena, and open a "complete equestrian center."
"I feel if you want to do it, somehow you try and create a way you can do it," said Jan Neuharth, a former Los Angeles corporate lawyer who is now the president of Paper Chase Farms of Middleburg. She is also the daughter of Allen Neuharth, chairman of Gannett Co. Inc. (which publishes USA Today and more than 80 other daily newspapers) and partner in his daughter's new life.
"I know a lot of people who say, 'I want to operate a sporting goods store,' or something, but they never do it," said Jan Neuharth, 30, sitting in her pristine new office at Paper Chase last week. Outside, water was still being pumped into a hole that will someday be a pond, and a neighbor's cow had wandered onto the land, but inside all was painted and upholstered and tiled in a rainbow of gray as restrained and tailored as any lawyer's office. The office also sported a USA Today paperweight, a gold horseshoe key chain and a pile of RSVP cards for the party held last night to introduce residents of the Middleburg-Washington axis to Paper Chase.
At the rain-spattered party, a smattering of limousines joined about 100 more plebeian vehicles parked just past the USA Today box and the tractor bedecked with the USA Today sticker. Jan Neuharth, her brother Dan and father Al and Jan's and Dan's mother Loretta stood at the door of the arena, greeting Sen. Larry Pressler (R-S.D.), former senator George McGovern, Gannett employes and Middleburgians in tweeds and hats with pheasant feathers. In the stalls, the staff of Ridgewell's uncrated chocolate truffles, filet mignon for sandwiches and champagne and raspberries.
"I'm just a cowboy from South Dakota who rides Western," said Al Neuharth. "I don't do any of the jumping or fancy stuff."
He was wearing what he called "as close as I get to a western outfit": cowboy boots, a heavy gold necklace trailing a steer's head and a belt buckle the size of the great outdoors with the USA Today logo.
"I think they ought to do what they want," he said of his children. "I've always joined them in whatever they've done."
Jan Neuharth, a slim woman in riding pants, boots and Oxford cloth, said last week, "I don't know why other people don't do it. I've always been like this. Once I get an idea, I want to do something about it. It never entered my mind that it really was a scary thing to do. It seemed kind of normal to me."
Or, as the press release written by Dan Neuharth says, "Jan Neuharth, president of Paper Chase Farms, decided 18 months ago to exchange her Los Angeles life style of legal briefs and navy blue suits for saddle, bridle and chaps, and follow her dream of operating her own riding center."
"It really is a change," said Dan Neuharth, who is involved in journalism and public relations in San Francisco and has spent the last six weeks of a career lull helping his sister handle such things as brochures, invitations to parties and press release wording. "It's something people say they wish they could do -- 'I dream of making a change, but I have to stay with this job to make $70,000 a year and live in Washington, D.C.' or whatever."
And to herald the change, a richly colored brochure explains, Jan Neuharth named her farm after "the popular 1970s movie 'The Paper Chase,' a film about law school students that showed there is life after law school."
Neuharth had never run a business before, and wasn't looking to do so, but after riding for only four years, she found herself thinking more and more about making it into a career. So, last year, she and her riding instructor and boyfriend, Joseph Keusch, came East and started looking for a farm. Keusch is now chief riding instructor and trainer at Paper Chase.
"The whole family's pitched in," she said. Her mother Loretta Neuharth, who is divorced from her father and lives in Rochester, N.Y., came down to help, painting the jumps that decorated the party. Her father boards his horse Dakota at Paper Chase. "They thought it was great," said the lawyer-turned-horsewoman. "They thought it was great that I would find something this scary to do and be so enthusiastic about it." Al Neuharth is considering building a house on the land, as is his daughter, she said.
"I had some reservations about going from being a lawyer and that life style and that job style to being with horses all day long -- it might not hold my interest," she said. "But it's holding my interest -- it's not just a hobby. There's a lot more of a business side to it than I thought there would be.
"We put a substantial amount of money into redoing the place. If it's run properly, it can make a profit, unlike what many people think. But you don't do it if what you want is to make a lot of money. You do it because you love to do it."