Past and Present Royalty and Revels

Honoring Choctaw Allies

When Iberville colonized the Gulf South, the strongest entity in it, whether European or Indian, was the Choctaw tribe. In 1711, Bienville stated that an alliance with the Choctaw was “key to this country.” Thus, in the tricentennial year of New Orleans, Lord Poseidon, enjoined his fellow Miltonians, the Atlanteans, “to treasure the formative role played by the glorious Choctaw in the survival of our river bank domain.”

As part of the brief pageantry at the Atlanteans bal masque in the Ritz-Carlton, Ashleigh Alleman, in a native American dress, sang "Colors of the Wind" from "Pocahontas," as played by the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra. Thematic decorations, natural sites of lore and yore, were back-dropped behind the throne to further the title, “Bogue Chitto Choctaw Bugalu,” which graced the artistic ball invitation by Scott P. Howard.

Each year, an aqueous theme, as well as a king who answers to Poseidon, sets the stage for the Atlanteans, whose first queen was Miss Adele Blanc in 1891. Her radiant successor of 2018 was Miss Jane Talley Hodges, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Philip Nalty Hodges. Last year, the crown was worn by Miss Elizabeth Flower Redd, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edmund England Redd. Mrs. Redd, as Miss Anne Stuart Flower, reigned over the Atlanteans in 1989.

Maids to her majesty Talley were Misses Sarah Jane Holbrook Freeman, who reigns Tuesday as queen of Carnival; Charlotte Worley Huger, the Mithras queen; Mary Fleming England Redd, the Oberon monarch and sister of the above queen Elizabeth; Anne Summers White; and Grace Catherine Williams. Misses Freeman, Huger, White and Williams each have a relative (or two) as a former court maid. The pages for 2018 were Masters Christopher Forsyth Hovet and Collier Pratt Villere, whose connections are royal: Miss Felicity Summerlin Forsyth Strachan (1995) for Christopher and, for Collier, Miss Margaret Timony Villere (1994), now Mrs. Bo Wynn.

Mr. Alfred Whitney Brown III chaired the court committee with assistance from Messrs. Kimberlin Price Butcher, Walter Chew Flower III (who escorted granddaughter Fleming), Peter Lawrence Freeman (who escorted niece Sarah Jane), Peter Michael McEnery, Paxton Legier White, and John Forrest White (who escorted granddaughter Summers).

A sure cynosure, Talley was eminently regal in a couture trumpet gown by Suzanne St. Paul of delicately beaded tulle and encrusted guipure lace. Delicate elements, thematic to the ball’s theme, were incorporated in the royal robe, which was accessorized by the jewel-encrusted Medici collar, magnificent crown, pearl choker and necklace worn by her late grandmother, Joy Nalty Hodges, during Carnival in 1952.

Eye-catching, too, was her mother, Jane Scott Hodges, in a stunning Cayenne silk jacquard ballgown, also with a design nod to the 2018 theme, by designer Carolina Herrera. Near Mrs. Hodges, in prominent box seats were Mmes. J. Kelly Duncan, R. Foster Duncan, Stephen Sherrill, Brooke H. Duncan III, William N. Offutt IV, John O. Sateri, Louis L. Frierson, Robert J. Whann IV, Thomas Dugan Westfeldt II, Lynes R. Sloss, Christian Trousdale Brown, Alfred Whitney Brown III, R. King Milling, William H. Hines, and Kimberlin P. Butcher. Unable to attend, but still in the Atlanteans spirit, was former monarch Marjorie Leverich Moran (1939), who just celebrated her 100th birthday.

Before the excitement and elegance of the gala ball, members of Atlanteans, the Miltonians, gathered for cocktails with their spouses or lady guests and then sat for a theme-based dinner, starting with grilled shrimp and finishing with a satsuma tart. Irises were centerpieces.

At 7:50 p.m., the unnamed Atlanteans captain addressed the seated assembly and named the court, saving Poseidon’s identity for the end. All stood.

Related revels included the pre-ball reception at the Hodges handsome Garden District home and the post-ball Queen's Supper on the hotel’s third floor, where show band BRW revved up the dance floor activity with such hits as “Disco Inferno” and “Soul Man.” Meanwhile, guests of three generations enjoyed breakfast fare, as well as warm, mini beignets. His majesty Poseidon was duly congratulated, obviously having loved his reign, and queen Talley continued to charm her subjects.

After the festive fact, her majesty’s parents reflected on her great honor, adding “We never could have imagined that the true ‘joy’ (a nod to the name of the queen’s Nalty grandmother) was seeing her radiant and ever-present smile throughout the evening.” Yes, the smile never stopped, and neither will the memory of an extraordinary occasion.

A World in a Whirl

At Thursday’s bal masque, the 2018 Knights of Momus presented “The World is Turned Upside Down!” to the delight of its guests in the organization’s 147th year. The name of the krewe honors the god of mirth and mockery and has “Dum Vivimus Vivamus,” or “While We Live, Let Us Live,” as its motto. No longer a parading organization, stopping in 1992, many Momus members and guests enjoy watching the Chaos parade.

They also enjoy witnessing the selection of the queen. This was achieved in high style at the annual masked ball held in the Orpheum Theater during the traditional ceremony of the scrolls. Prior to the ceremony, which determines the court and queen, the curtains were opened to reveal Momus, who had a ball. The next appearances were made by the Momus captain and the Jester, and the visiting king of Chaos to the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra’s “Masquerade.” When the maskers arrived in the ballroom, they threw beads to the delight of the white-gloved ladies.

Then it was time to find a queen and, as he has done for years, Mr. Michael K. Fitzpatrick, the ball’s general chairman, and accompanied by Mr. G. Arthur Seaver III, roamed about until they came to Miss Eugenie Cecile Whealdon, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Burton Whealdon. Quietly emotional, Eugenie shed a sentimental tear when her mother, Mary, put a pin on her that belonged to her grandmother, Jean Gibbens (later, Mrs. Joseph Whealdon), from her 1949 reign.

Eugenie, who after a closing of the curtain and a re-opening, was transformed into royalty. Her beautiful white ballgown had an embellished front panel and rhinestones bedecked the straps.

Maids to the newly-tapped monarch were Misses Caroline Bailey Acomb, the 2018 Twelfth Night Revelers queen; Elizabeth Lockwood Atherton, daughter of the 1990 Momus queen, Miss Eugenie Crusel, now Mrs. Robert Curwen Atherton; Sarah Jane Holbrook Freeman, the consort to Rex, 2018; Julia Murphy Grehan; Charlotte Worley Huger, the Mithras queen; MaryClair Mitchell Ives; Mary Fleming England Redd, the Oberon queen; Anne Summers White; Shelby Jane Ottley White, the Osiris queen; and Mimi Elizabeth Waggoner.

Two former Momus majesties, among the number in attendance, were recognized with flowers: Miss Virginia Parker Stewart, 2017, and Ms. Nancy Eaves, joined by husband Bob Miller, the 50th anniversary queen. Both wore splendid ballgowns, as did the mother of the queen.

After the grand march, “When the Saints Go Marching In” was played for the first of the many general-dance numbers. Moments later, the floor was cleared of audience chairs and set up with tables for the impromptu breakfast that was set up in the Orpheum’s lobby. All the while, Tracy Wisehart-Plaisance did a live painting. More dancing ensued, as did a buzz around a thrilled Eugenie for whom, in Carnival circles, and as a testament to her royal selection, the “World was Turned Upside Right.”