New York radio station WOR was broadcasting live from the veranda of Washington Hall in the Amusement Zone late in the evening of July 12. A commotion around the nearby Parachute Jump caught the broadcaster's eye and from a little past 11:30 P.M. until 4:45 A.M. the next morning, he narrated the thrilling adventure of two of New York's most prominent socialites.
At 11:25 P.M. parachute number nine refused to release, stranding an unidentified couple ten stories in the air. Word spread quickly throughout the fairgrounds and soon a crowd estimated at over 20,000 onlookers assembled. As the evening wore on, some paid $2.25 for a push chair to view the spectacle.
It was not until 3:00 A.M. that the suspended couple was identified. Jerome Zerbe, society photographer at the El Morocco nightclub and the Fair's Brazilian restaurant, appeared and yelled up: "Hey, Cokey! Is that you?" "That's right. High and dry" came the reply.
Zerbe identified the stranded couple as the crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me of New York's fashionable society – Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Corneilus Rathborne, Jr. She was a former Maryland debutante; he of Yale, 1931, Skull and Bones, Delta Kappa epsilon, Racquet and Tennis, Meadow Brook and Piping Rock. And ... nominally a banker.
The Rathbornes were very uncomfortable in their sky-ride prison for over five hours. Not only was it cold and windy, but Cokey had not eaten since noon as he played polo at Meadow Brook, neither could reach their cigarettes, and the parachute chair had no foot rest.