The Star-News


At this tea party you will find civility and good manners

Sat, Mar 26 2011 12:00 PM Posted By: Richard Pena

Last Sunday was one of those cold, blustery days that we sometimes experience in the early spring. According to the weather man it was supposed to rain but by mid afternoon it was still as dry as the desert, but threatening. It was the type of day that compels most of us to grab the Sunday funnies, crank up the electric blanket and crawl in for an afternoon of comfort.But, since I am reluctant to take on the characteristics of an old guy I had a different idea.

The idea happened to be the annual St. Patrick tea and lunch staged at the Bonita Museum. Three years ago a small group of ladies, active in museum circles, enlisted the help of Janet Goff the owner and operator of "My Cup of Tea," an English style tea room located here on Third Avenue, and a tradition was born.

I was first alerted to this event by Glennalie Coleman, a Bonita lady long associated in the cooking trade, having run a catering business for many years. Some years back she wrote a cooking column for The Star-News, featuring some recipes that, I daresay, are still in use in many of the local kitchens.

She was joined in the formal tea event by Ernie Trimble and Mary Jane Pye. Both of the latter ladies are also experts in culinary endeavors.

I became associated with Ms. Goff, familiarly known as "Lady Jane," a few years ago when her shop was located almost next door to The Star-News.

On my editing day at the paper I would occasionally drop in and pass the time. She has one of those attractive places that makes one want to examine and ask questions about each item. In addition to the tea and refreshments she serves, she also has a wide array of chinaware, books and other items ideal for gifts or merely things that one would like to have. She has patterned her place after a genuine English tea shop, you know, something that makes us think that we are someplace else.

Since the English tea is a somewhat special affair I made it a point to dress for the occasion. So I selected an outfit that I seldom wear. This consists mainly of a dark, navy blue, sports coat that daughter Margaret gave me some years ago.

It is of a material that mostly resembles suede but it has the feel of cashmere. In short, it is something that I would not have bought for myself. I, therefore, felt quite comfortable when I sat down at a table with five ladies, all equally dressed for the occasion.

Unfortunately, the mere mention of a tea seems to frighten most men away. They equate such things with something like a baby shower, an occasion where men are strictly taboo. It really is a shame.

At tea one gets to partake of finger type food that he would not get anywhere else, including his own home. Lady Jane does it up right. There is a cluster of goodies delivered to each table that in reality is enough to satisfy anyone for one full meal. There are various types of sandwiches ranging from chicken to cucumbers all with a distinctive, delicious taste. There is fresh fruit, strawberries and the like, and small custard cups of various flavors.

Some of the ladies at my table I have known for some time. There was Jane Campbell who has been active in the museum and other community doings for many years. She was a member of the museum board and has been a member of the voluntary patrol in the valley. Then there was Darlene Montgomery and her daughter, Amy, who is a kindergarten teacher in East County. Darlene, a longtime friend of Glennalie and Ernie is very active in the local garden club.

Then there was Bea Putian, another community activist who is involved in local affairs. The conversation ranged through an array of subjects, not all of it of the lady variety. I think that nearly all of them were aware that the San Diego State Aztec basketball team is on somewhat of a roll.

On returning home Zula's caregiver, a young lady named Veronica, had to know all about the tea. As I was explaining it to her she kept looking at my feet.

"Do you know," she asked, "that you are wearing different shoes?" I looked and both shoes, it is true, were black. But one was plain toed and the other was a wing tip.

I must be getting old.


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