By 1967, Brooke Astor had already made a name for herself. Following her short-lived five-and-one-half year marriage to Vincent Astor, and his ensuing death in 1959, she spent the next more than four decades dispensing as much as $200 million. As head of the Astor Foundation, she became New York’s most generous godmother. Having transformed herself from an interior decorator to a cultural connoisseur and philanthropist, what to wear for a birthday dinner at a Down East cottage was probably second nature, maybe either a Bill Blass or de la Renta style party dress and simply enough diamonds and pearls so she would still sparkle in the thickest Mt. Desert fog.
In addition to Brooke Astor’s cameo at George Garrett’s at-home birthday dinner in Northeast Harbor, Ellen Ordway’s camera and commentary take us to Palm Beach, Little Dix Bay, and Port Royal in Naples. This chapter include a look at Nick and Pat Symington Penniman’s new house, news about Katharine “Kaa” Thompson Wood’s tragic murder in the upstairs bedroom of her “Chateau Country” estate, Elsie Woodward’s views on Society, and a visit with “Sister” Bingham, Jennie “Jane” Marston Adams Burgard Tibbett Bingham, at Bali Hai in Naples on Florida’s gulf coast. The daughter of investment banker Edgar Lewis Marston and brother of financier Hunter Marston, Jane Bingham’s marriage (her 3rd) to Metropolitan Opera star Lawrence Tibbett once put her in the national spotlight.
“George Garrett’s Birthday Dinner Party”
Picnic on Pirate’s Point
Picnic on Cranberry Island
Labor Day Weekend
“News from here and there”
30 August 1967
Villa Bel Tramonto
“At the Brazilian docks …”
“Jane and John Bingham come for dinner.” Ellen Ordway jaunts to Naples to visit with her son Robert “Rip” Frazer and his wife Jan Frazer.
Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda
British Virgin Islands (BVI)
Among the most secluded of the Caribbean resorts, Little Dix Bay is now the 5-star Rosewood Little Dix Bay. Ellen went for a brief visit in December 1967 to visit her granddaughter and friends. Ellen Ordway’s son-in-law Joel Jennings managed several properties for the RockResorts, a Rockefeller interest, and was working at Little Dix Bay, just 30 minutes by air from San Juan.
Seminole Golf Club
Villa Bel Tramonto
Next: Chapter XXXIV, Jupiter Island + Palm Beach + Medway Plantation + Wilmington
Ellen Glendinning Ordway Photograph Collection
courtesy of Gayle Abrams & Lucius Ordway Frazer.
Augustus Mayhew is the author of
Lost in Wonderland: Reflections on Palm Beach