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By LENNIE BENNETT
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 3, 2000
A reception Thursday evening at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies was the formal welcome for Marty Petty, the new executive vice president of the St. Petersburg Times.
She has been on the job for several months, settling in and getting out and about with her husband, Mark, and their two children. So she already knew many of the guests streaming through the reception line to say hello to her, Chairman Andy Barnes and Editor and President Paul Tash.
In this Chamber of Commerce crowd were Russ Sloan (of course: he's the chamber chief), who left after a brief pass-through "because it's my wife's birthday and we're going to a movie at BayWalk"; Rick Baker; Marshall Rousseau, who was in New York City recently, stayed for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, then hopped a plane in time to have Thanksgiving dinner here with friends; Mary Wyatt Allen; St. Petersburg police Chief Goliath Davis; Bill Heller; County Commissioners Karen Seel and Bob Stewart, who put wife Carol on a plane that morning for her annual ski trip; Mike Foley; Jim Gillespie; Peter Betzer; Katharine Anne Lake; Gordon and Pat Campbell; Cary Putrino; Dick and Linda Johnston; Ed Shamas; Toby Krayer; Frank Scarritt; Ira and Beverly Mitlin, just back from Australia; Judge John and Candy Lendermann; Carole Ketterhagen; Gus Stavros; Judge Irene Sullivan; Mary Anne Reilly; Ric Davis; Betsy Owens; Joe Cronin; Barbara Pacheco; Jennifer Parramore, who tells me this year's Film Commission Academy Awards Ceremony has been moved to Ruth Eckerd Hall "and we hope to have some celebrities there" (so do we), and Don Mastry.
The Poynter Institute is usually filled with visiting journalists for seminars and convocations and is rarely available for community events like this, so many echoed Paul Bailey's comment that "I've never been inside the building. It's beautiful." It is, indeed, its central reception area a two-story sweep of wood, marble and glass that puts me in mind of Frank Lloyd Wright's work.
The Junior League of St. Petersburg Sustaining members gathered Thursday at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club for a holiday luncheon and a Follies retrospective.
What are Follies, you ask?
The first Follies, in 1932, was a series of songs, dances and skits performed by league members. A director was imported for several weeks before the show, along with trunks full of costumes, to whip everyone into shape. Tickets and program ads were sold. It was a huge success and made a lot of money, which was channeled into community projects. From then on, every year or so, a similar production was mounted, sometimes called a cabaret, and held either at the Coliseum or the old Florida Theater.
By the early 1960s, times and temperaments had changed; the idea of a Follies as the league's major fundraiser seemed passe, and they were discontinued. Follies were brought back in 1982 and 1984, and each made close to $100,000. They also generated great camaraderie among the membership. But the reality of producing one -- participants had all-day practices for weeks before the show and many women no longer had that kind of time -- led members to decide to find other ways to raise money for community projects.
Still, there is great affection for those shows, and the luncheon co-chairwomen Lynn Cox and Kally Harvard asked Mary Christian, a veteran of several, to put together a brief send-up of past Follies. She and Mary Joan Mann, another veteran of four Follies, gamely joined Margaret Bowman, Mrs. Cox, Fay Nielson, Judy Stanton, Lynn Tanner, Jane Sayler and Evelyn Moorefield for a spoof on the chorus lines of old. It was great fun.
Before that, we saw some lovely clothes Suzanne Fischer brought from Johnston of Florida (though I'm not sure about those jeans with the beaded fringe) modeled by Sustainers that included Cary Bond, her daughter Cary Bond Thomas and her daughter Cary Rahall, Linda Hirsch, Mary Booker, Carol Ann Rhodes, Keith Tullock and Susan Wallace.
Also nice to see were Kitty Alexander, Betsy McClure, Charlotte Bacon, Cindy Weatherby, Mary Lou DeVoe, Donna Painter, Ruth Kent, Harriet Strumm, Patricia West, Carol Phillips, Marty Wallace, Tinker McKee, Suzanne Clark, Madge McFall, Betty Jean Miller, Marion Ballard, Norma Jean McGarry, Patsy Baker, Helen Lyle, Gail Phares, Bebe Chandler, Sandy Bozeman and her mother Peg Wilson, Elizabeth Thurston, Nancy Thomas, Mary Moeller, Fran Davis, Jacque Stewart, Elsie Slicker, Carol Piper, Carmen Moore, Glenn Mosby, Jean G. Irwin and Sharon Jackson.