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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 years ago in Spokane: The wife of a former Spokane senator dished on D.C.’s society women in her first column

 (S-R archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

There were two “pass-keys to success” for Washington DC society women: Bridge and cigarettes.

This was tongue-in-cheek verdict of Elizabeth Gale Poindexter, wife of Spokane’s former U.S. Senator Miles Poindexter.

She was clearly pulling no satirical punches in this, her first syndicated column.

“(These women) look upon the ability to consume vast quantities of cigarettes – mostly bad cigarettes, the men inform me, for they say that women’s taste in cigarettes is generally atrocious – as a symbol of emancipation or something, heaven knows what,” she wrote.

As for bridge, she said, “The little coterie I have in mind is distinguished primarily by the readiness and eagerness of the women to play bridge for high stakes.” This limited the coterie to an exclusive and privileged club, she said, because the average member of Congress “cannot afford to throw his money away,” nor could his wife.

Another distinguishing characteristic of this group: snobbishness. Poindexter wrote that she recently talked to a woman who belittled a Washington official’s family by saying, “Do you know, the apartment was simply filthy! Why they even had coats hanging in the hallway!”

Oh, the horrors!

And finally, there was liquor, banned (supposedly) by Prohibition. Not in this group.

“They speak of their bootleggers, some of these women, just as they speak of the doctor or their lawyer,” she wrote.

One woman told her, “I don’t see how you can have a good time, not having taken a drink.”

“How funny,” Poindexter replied. “I was just thinking the same about you, you having taken too much.”