For many years I had a grand old time palling around with my friend Herb Caen—- we cut quite a swath all over the world, loving life together.

One evening we attended an auction at the elegant Hotel Mark Hopkins. Well known San Franciscan Pat Montandon was auctioning off her possessions.

Pat Montandon 1

Pat Montandon & Donna Huggins

A bit about Pat… Pat is often referred to as a socialite but she is a lot more than that. In San Francisco she hosted lively and important roundtable luncheons featuring guests like Eldridge Cleaver, Billy Graham, Steve Martin, Gloria Steinem, Alex Hayley and on an on. She is an author and also founded The Name Choice Center to inform women of their right to keep their own name after marriage and has been an advocate for women’s rights for many years.

So now back to the cape! In 1982, Montandon founded a peace group, Children as Teachers for Peace (later renamed Children as the Peacemakers) and she decided to hold the auction to raise money for the Foundation. Herb bought the cape for me and I wore it with pride.

It is made from the original curtain from the San Francisco Opera House and is a gorgeous gold brocade lined with blue silk complete with a hood. Money from that auction (and a lot of hard work on her part) helped her to make 37 international trips with grade-school children. She had substantive meetings with 26 world leaders such as China’s Premier Zhao Ziyang, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Pope John Paul II, the late Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland of Norway, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Mother Teresa. She collects letters written by schoolchildren, urging an end to nuclear proliferation, and has delivered food and supplies to needy children in Russia and Ethiopia. In 1987, Montandon designed the Banner of Hope. Now, a mile-long, the red-silk memorial inscribed with the names and ages of children killed in war, was first exhibited in the Kremlin at an International Women’s Congress. The Banner was highlighted at opening ceremonies of the United Nations, unfurled on the Great Wall of China, and in 2005, enveloped a school in Beslan, Russia after the massacre there.

In 2018, Pat rebranded her organization, now called Peace To The Planet, providing kids a platform to stop gun violence and fight global warming. Peace To The Planet is completing a new banner, similar to the Banner of Hope, showing the faces and names of children killed in gun violence. Montandon was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize three successive years and received the UN Peace Messenger award in 1987.

So where is the cape now? Well Pat has written many books and she contacted me a few years back and asked if she could borrow the cape for a book tour. She said it was one of the few things that existed from her “old days in San Francisco”. Of course I said yes and I delivered it to her at one of her book tour appearances at Book Passage in Corte Madera, California. Then several years later I needed it back for an event I was attending and she graciously send it to me referring to it as “our cape”. Now it has been sent back to her once more for her next book tour with the assurances that it will come back my way some day. Quite a saga and I am happy to be a part of it.

Wear it in good health Pat!