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A Cole Porter Tradition

A Waldorf Story by John Clark
2020

My relationship with the Waldorf Astoria started with the Pennsylvania Society. The Pennsylvania Society is a society of politicians and business leaders who would travel to New York City for an annual dinner at the Waldorf Astoria.

During this annual dinner, my uncle Michael would host this cocktail party. He’d do it in different suites in the Waldorf Towers. The last decade of Michael’s party, he hosted it in the Cole Porter Suite. That suite, because it used to be a residence, had a really big custom kitchen and a big dining room and you know, politicians would show up, but also all of our family and friends. We crashed the party basically. And it ultimately just became this family dinner that we’d have around this big dining room table at the Cole Porter suite.

One of the things that was always memorable about those parties with my uncle Kevin, my dad’s brother. He’s an incredible piano player. “Dinah, Won’t You Blow” was my uncle’s favorite. And then late at night, my uncle would start singing Meatloaf and some ridiculous stuff.

One of my friends saw that there was an article in the New York Post about them auctioning off some items from the Waldorf Astoria. I went through the whole auction online and I saw the table from the Cole Porter Suite, and I thought “Wow, that would be really cool to own that table that we all had dinner around so many times.” So I thought “Hey, I’ll rent a car and I’ll drive out to Massachusetts to where this auction is.” One area had all the items from the Cole Porter Suite, so I immediately found the dining room table and bought it as a gift for my brother. I think it ended up being around $18,000.

After I won the table, the owner of the auction house asked me to stand up and explain why the table meant so much to me and my family and why I was here bidding on it.

While the cocktail parties that my Uncle Michael threw started out as a business and networking event, I think one of the more important aspects was that all his family and friends were close to him. I think my uncle Michael would love the fact that our family is still gathering around this table to spend time together during the holidays.