On Saturday, April 16, our first annual English Tea began at 11:00 a.m. with all the ladies arriving in their gorgeous hats made with style and imagination. The room was decorated in warm and stimulating works of art, quilts by Catherine Conkey, and eclectic and powerful paintings by Nance Carter.
Eight tables for eight were covered with beautiful ivory linens and graced by the finest teacup and teapots, glass sugar bowls, and glass creamers. The sugar bowls held an array of white crystalized sugar swizzle sticks as used in the finest hotels in Europe. Three-tiered glass plates held stunning arrangements of flowers on the top; the other tiers were covered with finger sandwiches.
During the Tea, guests enjoyed the sandwiches: egg salad; cucumber with chive and cream cheese; chicken, celery, scallion, herbs and toasted almonds; smoked salmon, lemon, and dill cream cheese. On the side there were orange poppy seed scones with clotted cream and preserves. A special treat was chocolate covered strawberries rolled in nuts. It was all accompanied by English Breakfast tea.
The program started with an observation that, had we all been pioneer ladies, we would have arrived by horse and buggy, and probably very dusty. It was also explained that at a ladies’ tea in Europe you could tell the difference between upper and lower class by when they put the milk in their tea. If you were lower class, you poured the milk in first. It meant that you could not afford good china. You risked breaking the cup if the tea was too hot, so you had to pour milk in first. Of course, the upper class had a choice.
The program was as follows:
Pioneer Women: Doris and Barbara from the Lyle Museum brought some wonderful material on Lyle. Photos, newspaper articles, a beautiful black dress and some lingerie. Doris and Barbara (dressed in the era of early 1900’s) told a story of what it was like to live back then.
Catherine Conkey: Catherine, artist and teacher, told the stories of her inspiration of each quilt, some of which were already being displayed.
Centerville Singers: Three beautiful songs were sung by the girls.
Decision Time: prize for the most unusual hat. Nance and I could not decide. We choose four, and by applause of the guests we narrowed it down to three. Myrtie McKercher, Terry Chabbert and Judy Suhr were the winners. They each took home a beautiful basket, graciously donated by Brigitte Free.
Etiquette Question: “Does a lady always have to shake hands upon being introduced?” Everyone at the table had to discuss it and come up with an answer. No prizes here, just the glory of getting it right. We then auctioned off a one night stay at The Columbia Gorge River Hotel. It was won by Shivon Crossman.
More Prizes: We gave away prizes to anyone who had a paper dot on their chair. Some of the prizes included table runners and place mats made and donated by Deb Hansen.
According to the people we have heard from, the Tea was enjoyed by all. We only had one problem – we finally ran out of scones. A good complaint!
We would like to thank these ladies who made everything possible:
• To the ladies who allowed us to borrow their china cups, saucers and teapots.
• To Doris and Barbara who donated their time. A great job.
• To Shivon (Portland) and Judy (Seattle) who worked their buns off, we could not have done it without you.
• To Catherine (Portland) with her gorgeous quilts, what a treat, thank you.
• Nance Carter who hung her amazing art for our pleasure, we are so lucky to have such a talented and hard working lady in our community. It was a pleasure to work with you.
• To the Centerville choir who sang like angels, and choir instructor Patty McKern. Thanks.
• To Deb Hansen who made and donated the smashing table runners and place mats, thank you.
Mertie in her award-winning hat
• To Deborah Fenwick who sewed up the table cloths, with everything else you had going on in your life. A big thank you.
• To Diane Cazalet who took in money and handed out place cards, thank you, too.
• To Myrtie who always shows up and quietly helps out, thank you.