Part XV: Resort Life, 1959-1961

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Newport Country Club. Edith Kane Baker gives a gloved Newport wave as John Noble "Jack" Stearns reaches for a refreshment during the Newport Country Club's annual Men's Invitational tournament held in July 1960.

Part XV: Resort Life, 1959-1961
Cannes – Greenwich – Locust Valley – Newport

For a look at Ellen Glendinning Ordway‘s life from 1959 until 1961, I perused more than 4,000 photographs housed within nine volumes belonging to Ordway’s granddaughter Gayle Abrams, whose collection comprises 95 photograph albums. For this three-year segment, I have arranged and described images from Cannes, Greenwich, Locust Valley and Newport. Since during this same period Palm Beach social events and family gatherings in various locations produced an additional 250 snapshots, they will be included in the next several chapters. Although the photographs have lost much of their original color and the memory of the people and places they depict may have faded, these pictures celebrate a particular social order, their aura as vibrant as it was fifty years ago.

Step back to the last throes of trans-Atlantic luxury liners when style was classier than speed, when resorts were still the realm of the few rather than the new, and when the election of President John F. Kennedy had everyone asking ” … Is this the start of a New Era?”

Sunday 13 September 1959
New York to Cannes

The SS Constitution.
SS Constitution, baggage label.
Lesly Ordway and John Ordway join Lou Ordway for a champagne bon voyage in stateroom S-29.
L to R.: “Helena and Johnnie Raiss were also on board.”; Binks Rosengarten.

“We stopped in Lisbon, Naples and Genoa before arriving in Cannes.”

25 September 1959

“We disembarked in Cannes at 8 am.”
“Our hotel in Cannes.”
“Clos Fleury,” the Ordway family villa with Ayesha, left, at the ready to greet guests.
“Meet Ayesha, 10 months old.”
Peter and Gloria Ordway’s villa stairway between the porch and the terrace.
The open porch.
The villa’s living area.
The dining area.
“First dinner, then bridge.” Peter Ordway, Lou Ordway, and Gloria Ordway.
“The Ordway taxi.”
Casino le Palm Beach a Cannes. Peter Ordway models the latest Mark Fore & Strike madras.
Casino le Palm Beach a Cannes. Gloria Ordway models a smart Mark Fore & Strike two-piece bathing suit.
Casino le Palm Beach a Cannes. Le relax.


“Charlie Turner invited us to go sailing.”
Haydie Turner.
Charlie Turner.
“Lunch was served on deck.”
“We had lunch overlooking the islands of Santa Margarita and Santa Rosa.”
“Paolo and Pie di Paoli invited us for dinner at their house Sérénité.”
Pie di Paoli.
Gloria Ordway.
Pie di Paoli serves coffee after dinner.

10 October 1959
Aboard the SS Constitution

“We returned to the States aboard the SS Constitution.”
“Our stateroom.”
Ellen Ordway on the SS Constitution.

July 1960

Pineholm Farm. Greenwich. Court and Peggy Reventlow’s house.
Court von Haugwitz-Hardenberg Reventlow, a Danish count, was first married to Barbara Hutton, divorcing in 1941. Several years later, he met and married Margaret “Peggy” Astor Drayton. They left Europe and resettled in Greenwich where he died in 1969.
Peggy Reventlow. A great-great granddaughter of John Jacob Astor, Reventlow, 95, is today an accomplished sculptor who shuttles between Litchfield and Vero Beach. Born in London, she had her first exhibition at Hammer Galleries, followed by shows at Tiffany & Co. and Palm Beach Galleries. “I remember Ellen fondly; she was always taking pictures,” she said when we recently spoke. “The Ordways had one of my works at their Palm Beach house,” she recalled.
Richard “Dickie” Reventlow.

September 1960
Locust Valley

Betty Ordway Duke and her children lived on Long Island following her divorce from Tony Duke in 1957.
“Mrs. Ordway Duke, J. Richard Dunn are married.”
Cordelia Duke, Josephine Duke, and their pet Siamese cat.


During this period Lou and Ellen Ordway spent July and August in Newport at an oceanfront house located on Barclay Square. For the Ordways and their circle, Newport afforded refuge where they could spend leisure moments with their Palm Beach friends as well as enjoy the sporting life. However much President Eisenhower had made daily headlines during the late 1950s, having turned the “Queen of Resorts” into the Summer White House where he could be found putting around the Newport Country Club, a New York Timesstory in July 1959 was headlined “Newport facing a quiet season.”

And then, with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy‘s mother Janet Auchincloss ensconced overlooking the Newport Country Club and President Kennedytaking afternoon swims at Anita Young‘s heated pool, Newport datelines continued to attract the national and international spotlight. After Mr. Ordway died in 1964, Ellen bought a summer house in Northeast Harbor, “Philadelphia on the Rocks,” as she called it.

The Newport Casino attracted the best tennis players in the world, home to the International tennis Hall of Fame and Museum. First opened in 1880, the Casino’s Victorian-style was an early work by McKim, Mead & White. The following year, it was the setting for the first US National Lawn Tennis Championship that later evolved into the US Open. In 1959, Bill Tilden and Helen Wills were inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame.
Howard Gardiner Cushing, president of the Newport Country Club.
Jack Stearns and Lou Ordway. Son of New York silk magnate John Noble Stearns, Jack Stearns was a champion amateur golfer.

Barclay Square

Lesly Ordway.
Johnnie Ordway.
Annabelle Smith and Lou Ordway.
Sara Welsh.
Grover Loening. Newport Casual. “Grover Loening returned on his yacht bringing with him Ellen Barry and Gertrude Legendre.”
Ellen Barry. Widow of playwright Phillip Barry (1896-1949), Ellen Semple Barry was the daughter of Lorenzo Semple, a prominent attorney, who had given the couple a villa in Cannes, Villa Lorenzo. Author of The Philadelphia Story, Phillip Barry’s play Holiday was said to be based on Gertrude Sanford Legendre’s many adventures. Phillip Barry’s papers are at Georgetown University and Yale University.
L to R.: Sam Welsh.; Gertrude Legendre.
Ellen Glendinning Frazer Ordway.

The Orchard
180 Narragansett Avenue

Verner and Gladys Reed’s house. Designed 1871-1872 by Ogden Codman in the French chateau style, The Orchard was set on 8 acres, plenty of room for the Reeds’ Rolls Royces.
The Orchard. In September 2010, The New York Times did an extensive photo feature on The Orchard titled In Newport, but Not of It with an updated perspective on “Chez Reeds” and Newport life as seen by its current owners.
L to R.: Verner Zevola Reed Jr. Named for his father, the legendary Colorado mining-and-oil magnate (Cripple Creek Gold Rush of 1891), Verner Reed was perhaps not as well-known as his Greenwich-Hobe Sound brother Joseph Verner Reed and his wife, social arbiter Permelia Reed. When not in Newport, Verner and Gladys Reed lived on Palm Beach at 770 South County Road.; Gladys Quentell Reed. The Reeds’ son Verner Z. Reed III became a prominent photographer.
Gladys and Verner Reed with a Charles Baskerville mural in the background.
The Orchard. “Chez les Reeds.” Grover Loening.
The Orchard. Lou Ordway and Peggy Reventlow.
The Orchard. Lou Ordway, Court Reventlow, and Gladys Reed.
The Orchard. Lucius Ordway and Verner Z. Reed Jr.

Newport Country Club
39 Bellevue Avenue

Newport Country Club. Founded in 1893 by J. J. Astor IV, Herman Oelrichs, Perry Belmont, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, Theodore Havemeyer, Frederick Vanderbilt, and William K. Vanderbilt, the Newport Country Club was the setting for the first US Open in 1895. The clubhouse (1895) was designed in the Beaux-Arts style by Whitney Warren while the 18-hole golf course was not completed until 20 years later by the renowned Donald Ross.
George Plimpton. The son of a US Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Plimpton was an editor and writer at Horizon magazine from 1959 until 1961. He was the longtime editor of The Paris Review and a prolific writer. Perhaps best known as “a rich man’s Walter Mitty,” he often wrote journalistic pieces about the adventures of an amateur acting as a professional, such as his bestseller Paper Lion. When he died in 2003, Mr. Plimpton was described by The New York Times as “a lanky, urbane man possessed of boundless energy and perpetual bonhomie.”
Lou Ordway, Eleanor Hill, and Daisy O’Donnell.
George Widener.
Jessie Widener and George Widener.
Ronald Balcom. Ron Balcom and Lucille Parsons married in 1949, following his divorce from Millicent Rogers and her split from George Vanderbilt.
Lucille “Lulu” Balcom, Anita Young, and Edith Baker. The daughter of the Grenville Kanes, Mrs. Baker (1884-1977) was married to George F. Baker from 1911 until his death in 1937. Her son, George F. Baker Jr., married Kim Kendall in June 1959.
Lulu Balcom, Anita Young, and Edith Baker. While the Youngs resided at Fairholme on Newport’s Ochre Point, in Palm Beach Mrs. Young demolished her Mizner-designed oceanfront mansion following her husband’s untimely death and supplanted it with the more French-inspired Montsorrel. Mrs. Young’s sister was artist Georgia O’Keeffe. In 1987, Anita Young’s estate sold Montsorrel to Nelson and Claudia Peltz for $13.5 million, a record price at the time.
Betty Blake.
L to R.: Gladys Reed.; Dorothy Laughlin. “The Queen of Santa Barbara society,” who Ellen nicknamed “Karats,” for the size of her diamonds.
“The Glamor Group.”
Mollie McLean and Durie Shevlin (back). The first Mrs. Alfred Vanderbilt, Mrs. McLean, nee Manuela “Mollie” Hudson, was the third Mrs. Edward B. McLean Jr.
Alice Stearns and guests. Having divorced Harvester heir Leander J. McCormick in 1929, Alice Cudahy McCormick of Chicago and silk manufacturing scion John Noble “Jack” Stearns Jr. were married two years later in Lake Forest.
E. T. Bedford “Buddy” Davie. An accomplished sportsman, Mr. Davie’s father was a director of Standard Oil. He and his wife Dysie were a popular Palm Beach couple whose Worth Avenue shop was a sought-after destination.
Reggie Boardman and Lulu Balcom. “I remember Ellen and Lou, they were our close friends,” recalled Mrs. Balcom when I spoke with her recently in Palm Beach.

Bailey’s Beach Club
34 Ocean Avenue Newport

Bailey’s Beach Club.
Durie Shevlin and Leslie Crawford.
Howard Cushing.

Newport Casino
169 Bellevue Avenue

Dot Rogers and Mary Cushing.
Guests enjoy the tennis at the Casino.
George Widener and Lucius Ordway.
Ella Widener, Billy Carter, and Jessie Widener.
“Start of a New Era?”

Next: Part XVI: Palm Beach – Boca Grande – Delray Beach – St. Paul – Mexico, 1959-1961

Ellen Glendinning Ordway’s photographs are from the Collection of Gayle Abrams©.

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