An Era Gone By

Yesterday I was transported back to a time of elegance, of a lazy peaceful afternoon which I have never quite been shown before. My neighbor and her twin sister invited me to go to lunch with them at the Pasadena Town Club. In my mind, I thought I would be going to a place that would be sophisticated and elegant, but nothing in my past 62 years had prepared me for the treat I received upon entering this era gone-by.

As we drove into the parking lot, which was surrounded by a small red brick wall, with trees shading most of the cars, I knew that I was entering a different type of afternoon, as I saw only ladies entering the beautiful porch leading to the club which began in 1927.

As we walked up to the Town Club, Sally and Nancy began to tell me how it all began. Two women, in 1927 wanted a place where they could just go have a nice quiet place to have lunch. So..these two woman founded the Town Club. As we entered the front door, we were greeted by a hostess which led us to a “parlor” where we sat and had iced tea and visited until they come to ask if you are ready to be taken to your table. As we sat there and chatted about the beginnings of this great place, they told me that the men’s bathroom was named after their father, who became quite tired of “going out to the bushes to potty” because there was no men’s bathrooms, being that it was just a place for ladies all through the week. So their dad determined that a “men’s” restroom would be built, even though the men were only allowed onThursday-Sat nights for dinner.

As women began arriving, it was easy, in the way they were dressed, to imagine, many years before, the ladies arriving with white gloves, hats to match their dresses and always hose and heals.

After about 30 minutes the hostess came and asked if we were ready to be seated and we were led through a courtyard, filled with flowers, fountains, little white lights that I’m sure take you even further from reality when they are shinning at night, to an open room, which was filled with french doors.  We were seated at a table which overlooked and opened up to another courtyard where more flowers and chairs were placed just perfectly for chatting the afternoon away.

As I looked at the table, there was a printed Menu which, of course, had the Town Club’s name printed on it ever so elegantly and the menu of the day.

The silverware had TC on them, as well as the napkins. We had a choice of two entrees, but began our meal with chilled cauliflower buttermilk soup and popovers with little balls of chilled butter. As our main course arrived, I was still taking in the traditional wallpaper that graced the walls and listened to the ladies who had filled the other tables around us. No one was talking about movie stars, soap operas or politics. I heard conversations of family plans or trips that had just been taken; bridge clubs that were awaiting the ladies arrival. I saw ladies introducing their daughters, who were visiting from out of town, to other club members, who had known each other since high school.  Ladies were proudly showing pictures of grandkids to their friends.

As we dined on our beautifully presented salads, we talked about cookbooks and recipes and different places we all had lived. It was just such a relaxing meal. No music in the background, other than the conversations that reflected more gentle times.

Before the dessert was served, the server brought little finger bowls, which were placed on real lace doilies for us to dip our fingers in, if the need arose. Then put before us, was a gorgeous lemon curd sponge cake with a raspberry poppy seed cream sauce swirled around the base of the cake. Delicious and so beautiful.

They took me on a tour of the club, each room looking like a sitting room in an old mansion that was always ready to welcome visitors. Shelves lined the wallpapered walls, with books, chandelier lighting and comfy couches and chairs that just invited me to sit and sip on lemonade while reading a novel or visiting with an old friend.

As we exited the door and walked down the steps, I turned to look at this remarkable place that allowed me to wallow in the luxury of years gone by. I wasn’t really ready to go back to reality. It had been such a lovely afternoon, it was easy to imagine  a time when movie goers were not shot and killed or children were not  molested, while training to play football and no need for Amber alerts.

Thank you, Sally and Nancy for transporting me to an afternoon of innocence, elegance and just plain enjoyment. It was wonderful. The day made me realize that the South has been influential no matter the address…if we allow it to. I began to realize that my Southern roots would be able to be shared as I began to feel at home, even here in California.

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