Extraordinary Women

Two tender tales have been circling my thoughts like proud, persistent eagles.

One is about Eleanor Roosevelt, the other, Rachel ‘Bunny’ Mellon.

Bunny was married to millionaire, philanthropist Paul Mellon for 51 years, while during that time, sharing him with a woman by the name of, Dorcas Hardin, a widow and tony boutique owner in Georgetown, the popular political enclave of Washington D.C.. She knew of the affair, tolerating it the way many women of her era did, including her best friend, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.

When Paul Mellon died at 92, in 1999, Bunny invited Mrs. Hardin to the funeral thinking, it was the right thing to do, and something her husband would have wanted. Mrs. Hardin, being rather correct herself, despite her duplicity, properly declined. Bunny then invited her two children to represent their mother, who came, Bunny seating them with the rest of she and Paul’s family.  images.jpeg

Mrs. Roosevelt, when husband Franklin in 1945, suddenly died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia at the age of 63, had no idea he was with his long time love, Lucy Mercer Rutherford.

Though painful for her, it being the reason her marriage became in name only after discovering their love letters in 1918, found it in herself to bestow a magnanimous gesture.

At the time of FDR’s death, he was sitting for portrait artist, Elizabeth Shoumatoff, with Lucy at his side. They had resumed their relationship in 1941 with the help of Anna Roosevelt, Eleanor and Franklin’s daughter, unbeknownst to Eleanor. Despite being struck one more hurtful blow,250px-FDR_unfinished.jpg Eleanor sent the picture to Lucy with a note saying, I thought you might like to have this.

These tandem stories move me greatly.

Amid pain and much betrayal, these two wounded women were still able to act with kindness, generosity and grace.

I don’t know given the same circumstances, would I have it in me to be as noble.

I guess you don’t know what you’re capable of, until you know. images-2.jpegimages-1.jpeg But in hindsight, it sure is impressive.

SB

 

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About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
This entry was posted in Culture, grace, History, humanity, inspiration, Uncategorized, writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Extraordinary Women

  1. robprice59 says:

    I don’t think many blokes are capable of such magnanimity, grace and self-control.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think frankly, it’s not in your DNA. These women stayed married to these men despite their outside the marriage box, antics. Bunny was more affected than Mrs. R. who I think ultimately was grateful to finally have her own life after being such a mere cog in his. He also had a longtime affair with his secretary Eleanor knew all about, but the Lucy affair was equal to a war wound. It was a whole other kettle of bad fish, if you will. sigh

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorryless says:

    SB,

    I cannot imagine ever being okay with that. I guess everybody has a line, and no matter how chill and easy going I’ve become since I crossed the threshold of fifty, that ain’t changed. THAT would still be the line.

    Grace beyond measure.

    Your historical flourish is always peach, thin girl.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. aFrankAngle says:

    Oh wow … two remarkable stories. Thanks for taking the simmering thoughts in your mind and placing them in print.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As you may have noticed, I love history especially the little backstories no one usually tells. Poor Eleanor was so crestfallen her daughter was the liaison between her dad and Lucy, who justified it by saying, she just wanted him to be happy. Sigh.

      As for Bunny, Paul Mellon was like the Czar of his own life, doing whatever took his fancy. Bunny liked her life and cared deeply for him, despite his wanderings. He cheated on his mistress as well. I would have made skid marks, but then again, love holds us hostage when we least expect it to, so who knows. Thanks for reading. Always appreciate your attendance.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Eilene Lyon says:

    But look how Hillary Clinton was savaged for standing by Bill. I wonder if Monica will get invited to the funeral and what people would say about that if she was?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve made a great point. Of course Bill’s little slip was like porn in the Oval, but when you think about it, FDR’s canoodling was no different, it just seems so.

      Hillary Clinton is no Eleanor Roosevelt, even though she claims she’s her idol. Forgive me, but she couldn’t shine Mrs. R’s shoes.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Vasca says:

    History is fascinating and is a favorite of mine. I didn’t know that Anna played the liaison in FDR’s affair…interesting that she ‘just wanted her father to be happy’. What of her mother? Thanks for writing about two true ‘ladies’…such class. I’m almost certain I wouldn’t be so gracious…but then one never knows. Being such public figures must try one’s spirit, you think?

    Like

  6. Dale says:

    Susannah,

    I absolutely love your historical tidbits – they are the most interesting parts of history, are they not? Well, of course they are otherwise you would not be so generous in sharing them with us.

    These two women had grace in spades. Talk about holding your head up high, despite the ridicule they must have felt coming from others. I cannot imagine the pain Eleanor felt at her own daughter’s part in her father’s shenanigans – I think that would sting more than the infidelity.

    I honestly do not know how I would have behaved. I guess it all depends on what we are truly living at the time because no one knows what goes on between a couple…though I don’t know if there is that much grace inside of me..

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think Eleanor was such a bighearted person across the board. She stopped loving Franklin the way Lucy never stopped loving him, so it’s clear once she swabbed that wound, she understood and accepted that. The irony is, if that didn’t happen, if she didn’t find those letters that changed history if you will, she never would have become the force she was meant to be. She was really a great lady.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dale says:

        I think you are absolutely right. It is when we are challenged that we grow and become what we never thought we could.
        I have to read her book that is collecting dust in my bookcase…

        Liked by 1 person

      • If you want to really read about Eleanor, get the trilogy Blanche Wiesen Cook wrote. They are amazing. No Ordinary Time, by Doris Kearns Goodwin that won the Pulitzer, also is a great read.

        One of my favorite ER tales, is when she’s in the deep south at some lecture where blacks and whites can’t sit together occupying both sides of the room, so Eleanor takes her chair and places it in the center aisle and sits there, to make her point. When she left, people said her life would be in danger and she shouldn’t travel alone. Well, Mrs. R got into her rented vehicle and drove herself to her next gig. She kicked segregation, right in the balls she did. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • One more tip, and it’s short…Lucy, in paper, by Ellen Feldman. It’s historical fiction that tells their story….Lucy, Franklin and Eleanor’s.

        Like

      • Dale says:

        Thanks for the heads up! Will add to my insanely long reading list…

        Ah yes. She was a grand Dame in all the right ways. That’s a fab way to kick segregation on the balls! Now THAT, I would have done 😉

        Like

      • Me, you, Marc, Frank…we would been like a posse. 🙂

        Like

      • Dale says:

        And a fabulous one, at that! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I hope the gestures were as much for them as for husbands and/or the other loves. I think I would have the strength to kindly or directly allow my wife or love to leave me for someone else, but I know it would as much depend on her and her love’s opinions and actions. I agree with the line in Patrick Swayze’s movie Roadhouse: “You be nice until it is time to not be nice.” Nuff said, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul wanted to leave Bunny, but Bunny didn’t want Paul to leave and agreed to the threesome. Eleanor offered Franklin a divorce, but his mother, who pulled the purse strings told him, if he were to leave his wife and children, she’d cut him off without a cent. Frankly, I think she would have ultimately acquiesced, since she could deny him nothing, but he took the bait and broke off with Lucy. However, Eleanor though agreeing to stay in the marriage, did so on her own terms.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Most impressive. Thank you for writing, as only you can write.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. skinnyuz2b says:

    Susannah, I love your historical nuggets. If our history books contained such pieces of information, the students’ attention would never wander. The same goes for all school subjects.
    Those two women certainly showed great magnanimity. I don’t think I could choose to share my Pookie in order to keep him, but to each their own. No sister-wife status for me. Although there are times … Of course, hiring help is a lot less complicated!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eleanor really got slammed when you learn Lucy was her private secretary. That’s how she met pre-polio Franklin. The romantic in me is rather glad he had this great romance before he lived his life from a wheelchair. That doesn’t lessen my empathy for Mrs. R. though. And yes, when history is broken down to its bare bones, that’s where the juice is. I just love it as you know. Thanks as always. 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  10. That would definitely take a broader perspective on things than most people would be capable of, especially in a time of grieving. I always love the stories you share, Susannah. My daily dose of human history. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Grasshopper, your history lessons always open my mind. This story just makes me love Eleanor even more … she is a rock star.

    Liked by 1 person

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