by Patricia Slesinger Benson
American Reporter Correspondent
Beverly Hills, Calif.
May 4, 2008
PAT SLESINGER'S LIFE RECALLS AN AGE OF ELEGANCE
NEW YORK -- Pat Slesinger grew up on Central Park West when a five-bedroom apartment rented for $500 a month, when Cherries Jubilee at the 21 Club was $2.50, when there were no credit cards and people of means were simply trusted. It was a time when Manhattan was the center of the world in manufacturing, fashion, society, theatre and literary achievement - and her family was at the center of it all.
She passed away in New York City on Saturday, May 3, 2008, at the age of 82.
Born on Nov. 23, 1926, three years before the stock markets tumbled and the Roaring20's collapsed in a heap of worthless paper, she was born into an affluent family with high standards and special tastes. From their home in Sands Point, Long Island, her father, Lawrence Slesinger, commuted to work at his Manhattan factories by boat. Her mother, Estelle Slesinger, was known for gracious parties and famous show dogs, both storied among high society. Estelle's writings and radio commentaries were zealously followed among those in the know.
New Yorkers leaned over to listen each time Pat's mother famously paused her WNBC radio show to say "Good night and sweet dreams to my daughter Patsy."
"Patsy," as she was sometimes called, was the darling daughter of her family. Her most famous aunt, Tess Slesinger, captured Pat's bright, independent spirit in stories and plays including "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.". Her uncle, Stephen Slesinger, showered his young niece with private screenings of the Western serials and movies he produced and the Winnie-the-Pooh toys, books and novelties he created for his pioneer branding agency. As a child, Pat Slesinger became an arbiter of good taste, good manners and good ethics, values she embodied throughout her life.
Pat was the second Slesinger generation to attend Ethical Culture Fieldstone School and Barnard College of Columbia University. She was a gifted writer in her own right, who loved visiting Europe and mingling with locals speaking flawless Spanish and French.
Pat's grandmother, Augusta Slesinger, observed her granddaughter as she blossomed from the apple of her daddy's eye into a free and wild young woman, stamped with the approval of her unconventional grandmother's groundbreaking books on psychology.
Pat Slesinger was the model for Stephen Slesinger's character Tess in the Red Ryder serials, movies, and comics. In the Golden Age of glamour, she was a bicoastal socialite who captured men's hearts with her statuesque movie-star beauty, refined wit and stunning intelligence.
Her poems on lost love were written from the experience of a woman who spoke her mind and followed her heart. Pat spoke what was on her mind. Her social wedding to a doctor was annulled by the family's lawyers thirty days later, after Pat realized his harsh expectations of her were a mistake. She followed her heart when she fell in love with a Navy man and flew to Europe to surprise him on the dock when his ship came into port. He never told her that he was married.
She was engaged and disenchanted many times, to many prominent and some not-so-prominent gentlemen, until her marriage to the vice president of her father's company produced the true love of Pat's life: Her daughter Kim Eichelbaum.
Although Pat Slesinger grew up with bells, butlers, governesses and gardeners, her life was not always a bed of roses.
The heights she reached in life were pained by the thorns of many losses and illnesses, even though she rebounded each time, resolutely choosing never to give in, never to be lost.
Pat loved her daughter, Kim, and her grandson, Josh, with boundless warmth, and was always devoted to her pets. Her expectations were high and her tastes were simple. She loved spending many hours along the beach and going to garage sales on "treasure hunts."
Pat practiced the art of friendship and her friends came from every step on the ladder of life. For them, was always engaging, thoughtful and creative, and she gave the gift of laughter to each of them. She had an impish smile that lit up whenever she told you what she believed and knew. Her insight and intuition was remarkable.
In her later years, fortune did not smile so often on Pat Slesinger, but true to her caring nature, she spent 26 of her later years caring for the elderly and bringing dignity to many neglected and forgotten yet precious lives.
Pat Slesinger danced in her world of high society, even during the most difficult times, and she had the rare gift of turning bread and water into the toast and tea of a world as it should be.
Some of the best memories of New York's greatest days have passed from us with Pat Slesinger. Her family, and archivists of New York's history, will not forget her, nor the wonderful years she brightened.
She is survived by her daughter, Kim Slesinger, and her beloved grandson, Josh Eichelbaum, and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Pat Slesinger was the daughter of Estelle Slesinger and Laurence Slesinger, and the granddaughter of Augusta Singer Slesinger and Anthony Slesinger. She was the great granddaughter of Hungarian and Russian immigrants Morris and Tess Singer and Katherine and Sigimand Schlessenger, who settled on Manhattan's Lower East Side in the 1880's. From them descended some of the brightest and talented men and women of America's 20th Century, exemplified by Pat Slesinger.