CISSY’S NIGHT: “This balcony would be good for the pope,’’ said party hostess Vicki Kennedy looking out onto Dupont Circle from the balcony of the majestic Washington Club. Designed by Stanford White for newspaper mogul Eleanor Medill “Cissy” Patterson’s mother, the balcony marked the spot where Charles Lindberg, pilot of the “Spirit of St. Louis,’’ in 1927 waved to his adoring fans. Celebrating “Newspaper Titan: The Infamous Life and Monumental Times of Cissy Patterson,” a new biography by her niece Amanda Smith, Kennedy welcomed guests, saying, “Eat, drink and be merry in the style of Cissy Patterson.”
In the crowd, the author’s mother, Jean Kennedy Smith, former ambassador to Ireland, chatted with Irish ambassador Michael Collins and his wife, Marie, while Sen. John Kerry had Amanda Smith sign his book. In a nearby room, Patterson pals who helped Smith with her research eagerly traded stories about the high life with Cissy. “My mother used to ride with Cissy in the Mount Airy hunt,” said Frances Wyrough, one of the lucky ones to benefit from the newspaper tycoon’s much-contested last will and testament. Her mother, Ann Bowie Smith, was the lucky one to whom Patterson bequeathed $7,500 and historic Mount Airy, a 17th-century hunting lodge built by Charles Calvert, the third Lord Baltimore in Prince George’s County, Md., outside Washington. “I gave up riding after World War II,” Wyrough confided. “When they no longer brought the horses around to the front door, that was it.’’
This story first appeared in the November 1, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The evening ended with Washington House valet parkers still providing top-quality service to one flustered guest who, just before arriving, swiped the side of her car against a Dupont Circle curb. “I got a flat and they changed the tire for me,” confided Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn.