Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 48
The Asheville Connection
"It's just a plain piece of rock as far as I'm concerned. I do know that it's very beautiful,
but who on earth wants a great big rock like that. It's right where it belongs, in a museum."
~Mamie Reynolds, speaking in 1962 about the Hope Diamond
by Marla Hardee Milling
A couple of years ago my son and I had a
free afternoon in Washington, D.C., so
we made a beeline to one of the things
I most wanted to see: the famed Hope
The exquisite blue gem-a whopping
45.52 carats-draws constant attention
from a steady stream of onlookers at the
Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History. The famed stone is surrounded by
16 white diamonds and hangs on a chain
of 45 diamonds.
Little did I know at the time that an
Asheville, North Carolina toddler once
buried that very gem in a sandbox. It
also was attached to the collar of her
The little girl who played with the
Hope Diamond (currently valued at $250
million) was Mamie Reynolds, and her
grandmother was Evalyn Walsh McLean.
Mamie was the only daughter of U.S.
Senator Bob Reynolds and his fifth wife,
Evalyn McLean Reynolds, who reportedly ended her life with an overdose of
sleeping pills on September 20, 1946,
a little less than a month before Mamie
turned 4 years old.
Could her death have been part of
the rumored curse that's supposedly attached to ownership of the Hope Diamond? Mamie's son, Joseph Charles
McLean Gregory, says his great-grandmother did not believe in a curse even
though she suffered through many tragedies.
From an article in the Asheville Times
on May 1, 1947: "Tragedy struck early at
Mrs. McLean. Years before she acquired the