A brace of radiant debutante queens beamed as the crowned heads of two of Carnival’s oldest and most prestigious organizations. The first ball of the two was that of the Atlanteans, which occurred in 1891, and the second, occurring two days later, was that of the older Knights of Momus (1872). Beautiful weather outside and the warmth of friendship, formality and fun within the glamorous venues, the ballrooms of the Ritz-Carlton (Atlanteans) and the Hotel InterContinental, all fused.
“An Evening on the Bosphorus” titled the bal masque of the Atlanteans that hailed Miss Ellen Durel George, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Nicholas George, as her majesty. Forty years ago, her mother, as Miss Julie Durel Livaudais, figured in the court. Ten years before that, Miss Susan Davidson was the queen and was recognized by friends in memoriam as the 50-year anniversary monarch. Miss Davidson’s court included 10 maids, three of whom were in attendance at the 2015 ball, including, Louise Smither (now Mrs. Denis H. McDonald), who will be recognized tonight at the gala Rex ball as the 50-year queen.
Maids to her 2015 majesty Ellen, who answers to Ellie, were Misses Eleanor Brennan Davis, Jordan Elizabeth Devlin (tapped two nights later as the Momus monarch), Elizabeth Ashland Hines, Madeleine Moret Livaudais (queen Ellie’s cousin), Caroline Bernard McGraw, and Leah Katherine Whann, the most recent Mithras queen.
The pages were Masters Walter Douglass Goliwas and Thomas Westervelt Werner. Both of their mothers, former Atlanteans maids Anne Charbonnet Goliwas and Kate Ballard Werner, were back-to-back queens of Carnival, with the latter in 1989 and the-then Miss Charbonnet in 1990.
Within the Atlanteans program was the story, “Poseidon’s Retreat,” which suggested that when the “Great Sea God (Poseidon) finally retires” it would probably be some place on the Bosphorus “to drink spiced tea… and nibble spicy, Turkish cakes.”
Prior to the star of the ball, Atlanteans members and their lady guests assembled for dinner across the broad hallway from the ballroom. Atop the tables were floral arrangements of parakeet tulips, whose origin is Asian and of the Bosphorus region. Their bulbs were prized items; even the headdresses of many of the men the, turban, reflected the tulip shape.
The menu card, headed by the leonine symbol of the Ritz-Carlton and just below, Arcanum for Atlanteans (with the 1890 founding), listed the Turkey-thematic courses, concluding with a dessert item shaped like a miniature red fez.
As dinner was concluding, Atlanteans dignitaries announced the court and pages, the name of her majesty (to which royal father Ted George replied how honored he and his family were) and the name of the king, Poseidon, who remained unidentified. (However, at the queen’s supper later, he, in a kingly coy way, said how much fun he had –and was still having).
Under the direction of a new captain, the ball started right on time and, in due Carnival course, the 2015 cortege was assembled for applause. Mr. Alfred Whitney Brown III, brother of today’s Rex, Christian Brown, chaired the court committee with assistance from Messrs. Kimberlin Price Butcher; Richard Foster Duncan; Matthew Phillips LeCorgne; Peter Michael McEnery; James Reiss, brother of the former Lady Catherine Reiss, Atlanteans 1997 queen; Robert Hayes Saer; and George Villere Young, son and father of Atlanteans queens: the late Mathilde Villere (later Young) in 1956 and Charlotte Anais Young in 2012.
To entertain, a group resembling the Four Lads sang “Istanbul” to the great delight of the audience, many of whom sported the 2015 krewe favor, which was inspired by the Topkapi Dagger housed in the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, Turkey. The Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra played for general dancing and folks obliged with gusto.
Among the ladies noted in prominent box seats — all admiring queen Ellie’s Suzanne Perron St. Paul-designed dress of double silk satin and accessorized with regal accoutrements and her great-grandmother’s earrings — were royal mother Julie (in a design by Kathleen Van Horn), royal godmothers Mrs. Paul T. Gillin (queen Anne Fox in 1975) and Mrs. Franklin Jones, and Mmes. John Kerr, Robert J. Whann IV, Harry S. Hardin (mother of former queen Allison in 2010), Thomas Dugan Westfeldt, R. King Milling, Lynes R. Sloss, Christian T. Brown, Alfred Whitney Brown III, George R. Montgomery, and Edward Hart Bergin, as well as her daughter, Miss Reid Bergin, who wore the 2014 crown.
After the “Bosphorus” ball, the gallivanting turned to the delights of the queen’s supper with hearty breakfast fare, tulip centerpieces and the music of BRW. All the while, queen Ellie entertained a host of compliments and relished her reign.
Bright Knights: ‘Momus Nights’
“I was truly shocked to be chosen queen,” said Miss Jordan Elizabeth Devlin during the course of the queen’s supper just after the Knights of Momus ball in the Hotel InterContinental’s La Salle Ballroom. She continued, “I was the first one who got a scroll, which said to me that I would not be queen. I though the queen would get the last scroll.” Surprise!
Indeed, Miss Devlin, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clay Dutton Devlin, was chosen to share the royal throne with Momus, the god of mirth and mockery. When she received the royal-proclamation scroll from general chairman of the ball Michael Kevin Fitzpatrick, her eyes were moist with surprise and, no doubt, delight.
Just after the masked ball started — and it was right on time to the ultimate satisfaction of members and guests who’ve seen delays because of problems on the parade route — Mr. Fitzpatrick went in search of a queen, having a little fun along the way. (The-then potential maids were seated about 12 rows behind in the audience.) En route to their white-gowned station, he gave a kiss on the cheek to the only member of the 50-year court in attendance. The queen of that year was Miss Bonnie Bartlett (later Gay). Last year’s Momus queen, Claire Plauche, was present to hail her successor and was given long-stemmed roses.
Another anniversary monarch was Virginia Preaus Barba, who reigned 20 years ago. Her sister, the former Darnell Preaus, held the Atlanteans scepter in 1992.
Overjoyed with the selection of her niece, Jordan, was Shelley Devlin Kurtz, who reigned herself as a Momus monarch.
Maids to the 2015 queen and Momus, who sat in monarchal splendor under the Knights’ “Dum Vivimus, Vivamus” motto (meaning “While We Live, Let Us Live”), were Misses Catherine Crawford Adams, Patricia McCarthy Beron, Eleanor Brennan Davis, Margaret Coco Ellis, Christina Ann Ewin, Courtney Cooke Geary (the Achaeans queen), Elizabeth Ashland Hines, Isabel Nott Jackson (the Twelfth Night Revelers monarch), Rebecca Buckley Lapeyre (Oberon’s queen), Karoline Havens Mallette Patrick, and Catherine Turney Worley (Mystery’s crown-wearer).
And speaking of crowns! While the Momus maids were being presented their scrolls, Jordan Devlin was accoutered for the royal role she had just assumed. The crown, glittering collar and mantle transformed her into immediate regality.
Seated within the call-out section were mothers of the queen (Jill Devlin) and maids, the families of the unidentified Momus and the captain, members’ wives, daughters and guests, and friends of the organization, many of whom had just viewed the Chaos parade, which continues the satirical slant formerly found in the now-disbanded Momus parade.
At the ball’s conclusion, and the playing of “The Last Dance” by the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra, preparations went into immediate readiness for the supper, again a breakfast. The call to the dance floor was heeded by many of the younger and debutante set, especially her majesty Jordan, who, sans collar and mantle but still wearing her crown, sauntered forth to the beat, adding the joy of her special evening with the Knights of Momus.