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YWCA tea highlights a program worth noting

By LENNIE BENNETT

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 31, 2000


Henry James was never known for brevity, but one of his uncharacteristically short sentences, the first one in The Portrait of a Lady, is a favorite: "Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."

Indeed.

James loses me when he goes on to wax poetic about "the perfect middle of a summer afternoon," clearly never having spent time in Florida in June, July or August.

But the wise women who planned a tea party at the YWCA, understanding "certain circumstances" -- that no one wants to drink a cup of hot tea at 4 p.m. on a sizzling patio here -- held it in the air-conditioned comfort of the Y's headquarters on Second Avenue S.

Otherwise, it was about as English as it could be in St. Petersburg, and no wonder since the chairwoman, Marilyn Johnson, had as her adviser her mother, Peggy Roberts, who is British.

Mrs. Johnson enlisted the help of another expert, Fancy's chef Emil Topel, also English, who served scones, heavy cream (not Devonshire clotted, but so what?), poached salmon, strawberries, little sandwiches -- lots of cucumber, of course -- and tea cakes and cookies. I deeply regretted having lunch that day.

But the real point of the gathering was to hear about new programs at the YWCA. Executive director Peggy Mills talked about the newest one, in Clearwater, serving Hispanic girls 11 to 15, begun in response to that growing population. It is based on a program already in place here called PETALS, an acronym for Program for Early Training Toward Adult Lifestyles, a name chosen by the girls. That is part of the empowerment of these youth programs, Mills says, letting them name and then design them as a group. PETALS concentrates on leadership and communications skills and already has an enrollment of 45.

In the group of supporters were Carlen Peterson; Sharon Jackson; Mabel Easton, gamely limping in wearing an air cast on her foot after a recent fall; Zeta Bobbitt; Eleanor Speakman; Kristina Pasqualone; Martha Mohn; Kathy Binder; Thelma Footman; and members of Jane Putzel's exercise class at the Y, Barbara Applegate, Rita Keller and Pearl Driscoll, who has exercised there for 23 years and looks it.

Mills asked me to emphasize that, though it is often confused with the YMCA, the YWCA is a completely different and separate organization, distinguished by more than just its "W" though W is an important letter, at least politically, right now.

As if the surfeit was not enough, we all left with a parting gift, little rectangles of shortbread, beautifully boxed, prepared by Mrs. Roberts.

* * *

Congratulations to new Women's Chamber of Commerce officers: president, Joan Jaicks; first vice president, Mary Jean Wall; second vice president, Janice Graham; recording secretary, Nancy Whitlock; corresponding secretary, Sheila Tempelmann; treasurer, Esther Thorpe; auditor, Irene Huber; and parliamentarian, Vera Brantley.

* * *

As a rule, I do not write up 90th or 100th birthday parties, but this one bears noting: Dr. Ed Pollard, who was born on May 16, 1910, in Walnut Grove, Tenn., was the area's first obstetrician. He trained at the University of Chicago, served as a medical officer in Europe and North Africa during World War II and opened the St. Petersburg Women's Clinic in 1948. His son, Jim Pollard, along with family friend Cracker Holton, threw a party for him on May 20 at the Keystone Club that included family, past medical associates and fishing buddies. Presumably, no room was big enough to accommodate all the now-grown babies he delivered.

* * *

You are packing right now for a summer in North Carolina or Maine or Colorado. Before you go, send in party information for the fifth annual On the Town Social Calendar to be published in late August or early September. Include the name of the event, sponsoring organization, date, time, place, ticket price, theme if available and a contact name and phone number. Please send it to Lennie Bennett, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

Getting a lot of points for sending information so promptly are organizers of these events:

R'Club Luncheon and Fashion Show on Oct. 11 at the Lyceum, a new party venue.

A first-time gala, still to be named by its co-chairs, Fay Baynard and Pat Campbell, to benefit a new local chapter of the national agency for the blind, on Oct. 14 at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.

Bowser Ball and Auction, also on Oct. 14, to benefit the Pinellas Animal Foundation at the Belleview Biltmore hotel in Clearwater.

Science Center Gala on Oct. 20 at the Don CeSar Beach Resort.

Masked Ball on Oct. 28 at the TradeWinds Resort to benefit Academy Prep Center for Education.

25th Hour Bayboro Bash on Oct. 29 to benefit University of South Florida, St. Petersburg.

Stuart Society Luncheon and Fashion Show on Nov. 2 to benefit the Museum of Fine Arts.

Holiday Hope on Nov. 4 at the Brightwaters Boulevard home of Dr. Jim and Donna Nagelsen to benefit ASAP, an agency assisting the homeless.

Pavilion, also on Nov. 4, a black-tie gala at the Tampa Museum of Art.

Roses and Treasures, a luncheon and fashion show at Feather Sound Country Club, sponsored by Alpha Omicron Pi for the sorority's foundation, which funds scholarships and arthritis research.

Art Festival Beth-El from Jan. 20 through Jan. 21, a show and sale with an opening cocktail reception on Jan. 20.

Art in Bloom Gala on March 17 at the Museum of Fine Arts, which launches a week of events, culminating in the Tour of Gardens on March 24.

Order of Salvador Dinner on April 28, annual black-tie party at the Salvador Dali Museum.

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