• U.S.

The Press: Evie’s Apples

4 minute read

On most clear days around noon a statuesque blonde in jodhpurs pops into Washington’s Mayflower cocktail lounge. She is Evelyn Walker Robinson (“Evie”) Robert and she has tamed one horse and large numbers of New Dealers. Skittish Administration insiders like Charlie Michelson and Marvin McIntyre eat out of her hand. And her adoring husband, Lawrence Wood (“Chip”) Robert Jr., is the secretary of the National Democratic Committee.

One day last week Evie gave up her usual afternoon activities to stand with White House newshounds outside the office of her friend Franklin Roosevelt. When the door opened she tumbled inside first ahead of the pack, and handed the President of the United States a big red apple wrapped in a white silk ribbon. “Is it a McIntosh?” smiled Mr. Roosevelt. “No, I’m sorry—it’s a sheep’s nose,” trilled Evie. “We’ll have to try them in Dutchess County,” remarked Squire Roosevelt, still smiling, and turned to the business of his press conference.

Like most of Evie’s antics, this one had a purpose: to attract attention to 1) her new daily column, “Eve’s Rib,” in the Washington Times and Sunday Herald-Times, and 2) herself, as a candidate for a $9,000 a year job as a District of Columbia Commissioner. Of the President Columnist Evie gushed the other day: “He was so charming that I forgot to be frightened. … It was quite the most impressive experience I’ve had, and had it not been for that great personality, I would have been scared to death! He sat up behind his big desk and put every person instantly at ease. He answered questions good-naturedly and quickly—I wonder if there’s a question in the world that would make him ‘hem and haw.’ . . He had on a dark blue suit with a very faint stripe, a white shirt and a dark blue tie with a small oval figure in it. . . .”

In Washington society, where sex appeal and politics are potent and appreciated, formidable Evie Robert is considered a rising power. Her husband was a convivial industrial architect, New Deal fixer and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury before he got his present party post. Evie, who rarely mentions her first husband,* was 26 in 1935 when she took the 48-year-old Chip as her second. They live in a gilded suite in the Mayflower, stage some of Washington’s liveliest parties. Evie’s stock of racy anecdotes about big-shot politicos is apparently inexhaustible. Naturally she does not write all she knows. From her first few columns:

“Did you know that every time (now this is important) the Redskins score a touchdown . . . George [Marshall] and his wife, the former Corinne Griffith, stand up … and he kisses her on the cheek? . . .”

“When I was a little girl I was bald as an egg until I was four years old. . . .”

“Stewart McDonald, the Administrator of Federal Housing . . . has just returned from London and Paris, where he turned his Scotch soul loose on tweeds. . . . His new little ‘café au lait’ number is becoming, and brings out the fine, lovely quality of his camellia-like complexion. . . . I’m sending ‘Eve’s Apple’ to certain people, so, Stewie, when you get home tonight, you’ll find it waiting for you. . . .”

First fellow columnists to greet Evie in print were Bob Allen and Drew Pearson, who hailed her as “the glamour girl of the New Deal.” Then Harold Phillips of the Washington News teased her about her widowed mother, Alonsita, who was running for the Maryland House of Delegates as a Talbot County Republican. “Mother,” retorted Evie in a crushing mood, “knows and loves her country, she is incorruptible, and, if a daughter may say so, exceptionally bright.”

*Fielding Robinson, a radio company executive.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com