"the" Mrs. Astor

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

If its December, its time to raise money for SoBap (the South Beach Aids Project); and who better to lead the way than the indefatigable, Thomas Barker. I really don't think he sleeps any more as no, one person could possibly lead so many fund raisers, vote registrations, and drink fests. His fish fry this Sunday is an amusing tactic; I think a fish fry is a very southern thing as the only time I've heard of one is in a hilarious song by Pearl Bailey and Moms Mably. (Leave it to Barker to turn our snooty neighborhood upside down with the low brow entertainment we love so much.) Last year Barker and our committee raised a great amount of money to help the underfunded SoBap continue; it is time to get out the checkbook ladies and gentlemen. Even if you don't eat fish, you'd better be there.

The passing away of Sunny von Bulow leaves the Newport stage with one less character of note; Sunny hadn't not been one of the active members, of course, but its another name buried in history. I still remember watching the daily murder trial of Claus von Bulow with my grandmother. It mesmerized a small town in a small state.

There's only a handful of the old Newport names left; two Vanderbilts occupy the third floor of The Breakers, Eileen Slocum still lives in the mansion nestled in a forest of trees, and Sen. and Mrs. Pell live in their home overlooking the ocean. Claiborne de Borda Pell was the senator from Rhode Island for nearly forty years, the chairman of the foreign relations committee, and an elegant, rich Newporter famed for his speech and manner. My favorite Pell story was of his leaving his diplomatic position in Slovakia in 1946 when the Communists took over; they had arrested and tortured in interpreter. As Pell and his wife were about to drive off, the just-released interpreter approached and asked if Pell could take him, too. Pell replied, "No, you know I can't do that. But I won't lock my trunk." At great risk, he drove the man all the way to Italy.

Pell and his wife, Nuala, were the consummate aristocrats in Newport; they are in their nineties now, with Pell suffering from Parkinson's. They posed in front of their 1944 wedding portrait recently for the Providence Journal. Growing old is a bitch.


At 6:46 PM, Anonymous Thomas Barker said...

Thanks for all the support Alexis and company! I hope this year's event is a massive success!

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Mason said...

Greetings Mrs Astor:

I actually met Sen. Pell several times, both in RI and in DC. I never had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Pell.

Very sad about Sunny....but at least the poor woman can rest in peace now.

I was not aware that there were still Vanderbilts living on the thrid floor....last I'd heard, they were no longer there. oh well.

Hope all is well with you and yours there in FL. :)

Mason & Jakob


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