Let’s party like it’s 1911

I had promised to continue my story of our own home-grown radical, Hugh Hardyman, but I need to take a brief detour to let you know about a celebration of something that doesn’t come around often – a local organization’s 100-year anniversary.

The La Crescenta Woman’s Club hits the 100 year mark next year, having formally organized in 1911. Their earliest beginnings can probably be traced way back beyond 1911, back into the 1880s, when the well-educated friends and family of Dr. Briggs settled in La Crescenta. This was the Wild West back then and the women reached out to one another for doses of culture and literature. A Shakespearian club was formed, a lending library put up in one of their mansions, and efforts were made by the good ladies to help the less fortunate, poorer neighbors in La Cañada. (Yes, you heard me right. La Cañada then was quite working class, and even featured – gasp! – a “Mexican ghetto!”).

The community-minded ladies began to coalesce into a group and by 1907 they were meeting regularly in various homes as the Crescenta Club.

In 1911 they officially became the La Crescenta Woman’s Club, and set their course as a community service group. Their vision was, via the unique and irresistible power of womankind, to make La Crescenta a better place. They promoted the arts and served the needs of the community, all while enjoying one another’s company. By 1924 they were big enough to raise money for their own clubhouse, which they finished the next year.

That clubhouse, with its stage, ballroom and kitchen has become their bread and butter, as it’s nearly constantly rented out to dance groups, churches, wedding receptions, you name it – raising thousands of dollars. The money funnels back into charity efforts such as scholarships for local students, disaster relief efforts, and things to just plain make CV a better place, like tree planting, etc. The rest of their efforts go into thinking of fun ways to raise and distribute even more money, like putting on fashion shows and charity balls, and holding rummage sales and auctions.

For 100 years they’ve been having fun and making new friends while helping their community, and at the same time have served as the hub for art and culture. For a community service group it doesn’t get much better than this!

So we’re throwing this big Christmas party to kick off their anniversary, and you’re all invited! The Historical Society and the Woman’s Club are teaming up to create an evening of simple pleasures, the kind of small-town atmosphere that amazingly still persists in La Crescenta.

First off, it’s a potluck, so bring some food to share. And since it’s a 100 year anniversary celebration, we’re asking people to bring something that’s 100 years old (or close) to display. It can be an old postcard or newspaper, an obscure old kitchen utensil or tool of some sort, maybe a toy or musical instrument – you get the drift. We’ll have tables out for you to display your items on, and then you take them back to your attic or garage when you leave. Sort of an Antiques Roadshow. We’ve done similar parties in the past, and it’s really fun to walk around and look at the odd old objects, chatting with people about the memories they evoke.

Our entertainment for the evening will be the Crescenta Valley High School Alumni Choir led by the legendary Shirley Nute. Miss Nute started teaching choir at CV High School when it first opened in the early ‘60s and was the life and blood of vocal performance locally for many decades, continuing into the present. Her choir is made up of CVHS grads from the last 50+ years, and you’re bound to recognize some of them.

So come by and check us out Monday night. Bring food and an old item to show-and-tell. It’ll be fun! That’s Monday, Dec. 20, at 7:00 p.m. at the LC Woman’s Clubhouse, 4004 La Crescenta Ave. (Piedmont and La Crescenta avenues).