About teas, Emily Post has said, "The major difference between a reception and a tea is one of atmosphere, like the difference in furnishing twin houses. A reception always takes itself seriously. A tea, no matter how formal it pretends to be, is friendly and inviting. We do not go to be impressed or instructed, but to enjoy seeing our friends and to be seen by them."
And Suzanne Marx wanted to see her friends. She's been on the Los Angeles County Grand Jury this year, riding in patrol cars, observing PCP drug raids, sometimes absent from the social scene.
"I decided that the best way to see all my friends, was to have a tea and invite everyone." Thus, out went the pretty Crane invitations with the big red drum and the message, " 'Tis the season to be jolly, Christmas trees, bells and holly!," and 250 lady friends joined her for Holiday Tea at the Bistro Garden.
One thinks of Haviland teacups, white Madeira linens, gleaming silver teapots and gadroon-bordered trays and powdered sugar rum balls as The Tea--in a crowded dining room with chintz curtains and quiet chatter.
This was a different kind of tea--one definitely with the effervescent Suzanne touch, and the very first tea for the Bistro Garden Pavillion. About 17 waiters circulated with trays, serving California vintage Domaine Chandon champagne, dry sherry and Perrier. The tea itself also was served by waiters, offering jasmine, orange, herb and cinnamon varieties in tea bags with hot water from china teapots.
David Jones glamorized the tables with flowers, and the traditions were there on the sweets table: the buche de Noel, the fresh raspberry roll, the raspberry, strawberry and kiwi tarts, the raspberry cheese cake, the apple strudel cake.
Across the way, the finger sandwiches included the traditional watercress and cucumber and the curried egg salad favorites with a salmon mousse and pumpernickel competing with the scones the hostess had called for with Devonshire cream and imported jellies. More than several of the city's slimmest indulged.
"I just love my friends," Mrs. Joseph Marx said. "It means a lot for me to see them," and they were in abundance--Wallis Annenberg, Joan Hotchkis, Maria Hummer McCambridge, Liz Familian, Eleanore Phillips, Bobbie Galpin, Marcia Hobbs, Katherine Price, Robin Parsky, Peggy Parker, Barbro Taper, Patricia Nettleship, Bonnie Green, Gloria Holden, Fran Cey, Judy Carroll, Nancy Livingston, Kay Conrad, Joan Burns, Susie Niven (off to Sun Valley for skiing), Joanne Kozberg, Margaret Carr, Carolyn Caputo, Alyce Williamson, Lois Erburu and Olive Varga.
Ginny Ueberroth, exuding warmth and telling of their family plans for the Caribbean for New Year's, brought along "my new friend." She was Sara Brown, wife of Dr. Bobby Brown of Ft. Worth, president of the American League. Later they were driving back to La Jolla, where Brown and Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth were meeting. Nearby, a trio of Diane Miller, Lynn Evans and Susan Shumway compared Christmas plans, and at another table Caryl Carothers and Mary Ann Mobley Collins, ditto.
In the Big Room, the crunch was heavy. There, Doris Dana and Geri Schabarum, wives of Los Angeles County supervisors, joined Nancy Petersen, Dorie Pinola, Joan Quinn, Judy Ruderman, Margaret Baird, Louise Danielian, Valerie Rigby, Loreen Arbus, Marge Fasman, Regina McConahay-Orr, Lennie Greenberg, Bea Lavery, Mary Jones, Frances Franklin, Ruth Berliner, Ginny Cushman, Barbara Schneider, Joan Seidel, Joan Selwyn, Judi Davidson, Joy Fein, Mary Ann Heidt, Suzy Henney, Lee Howard, Carlotta Keely, Joan Luther, Carolyn Minchin, Terri Childs, Barbara Marcussen, Maggie Russell, Diana Bollero, Pam Clyne, Beverly Job.
Gossip is out at teas, but news is fine. Lady Dodge, who did the nice thing guests do at teas--bring the hostess a present--was exuberant about her appointment to the Statue of Liberty Ellis Island Centennial Commission. Forty-seven will serve: Another is Suzanne Marx (and, more, Ginie Braun and Peter Ueberroth, Jeane Kirkpatrick and Pat Buckley).
When it was time to leave, the hostess had instructed Santa Claus to give each guest a big bag of popcorn.
Few give more teas than college presidents' wives. Last week, Mildred Goldberger, wife of Caltech's president, who tosses her holiday greetings in the most marvelous Imari bowl in her hallway, joined with Dotty Hayman, wife of Caltech Associates president Richard Hayman, to host a tea for Associates women and Caltech faculty women with the help of Joanna Muir, vice president of the Associates.
As expected, it had the academic touch. Mildred could tell you the botanical names for most of the horticultural specimens on the dining room table, and even whisked guests out to the service porch to see the English seeds she was sprouting.
College residences have a way of inheriting the exquisite silver of deceased benefactors. For the occasion, the president's wife had whisked out an impressive array: the Russian Georgian-style tea kettle, sterling trays and candelabra, a capo da monte chocolate service, Meissen, vermeil, a Sheffield piece. She tipped it for inspection. Praline cookies were in Victorian biscuit boxes. The epergne was filled with asparagus fern. Raspberries were in compotes. It had taken Reba Carraway and Ruth Anderson two weeks to polish it all.
That morning the president's wife had climbed atop a ladder to adjust the lighting in the dining room to make the silver sparkle. The camellia clippings everywhere were her handiwork, too.
In the kitchen, caterer Peggy Dark, at the behest of Lydia Matthews, who programs a lot of the Goldbergers' entertaining, was assembling open-faced tea sandwiches--watercress, shrimp, crab, cucumber, smoked salmon. Others were filling cream puffs, arranging trays with lemon curd tarts, pecan bars, almond cookies, cream cheese pastries with a variety of fillings, all of them caloric.
In the dining room, the goodies disappeared like magic, particularly the wonderous chocolate and hazelnut truffles being sampled by a crowd including expert tea-giver herself Carolyn Volk, and another, Georgie Erskine, who also was admiring the Scandinavian rosettes, and was off that evening for San Francisco to host a party with her husband, Paul, and daughter Eugenia at the Villa Taverna to honor Catherine and Charles Thompson. (The Tony Duquettes, Deven Howes and Jackie and Hoyt Leisure were also flying up.)
At a tea, the intimate friends of the hostesses usually are asked to pour. Emily Post notes that these women are chosen "because they can be counted on for their gracious manners to everyone and in all circumstances." Taking half-hour shifts at the Caltech tea were a group including Frances Larkin, Evelyn Bray, Arrola DeBridge, Janet Delmonte, Anne Gilbert, Judge Cynthia Holcomb Hall, Hannah Bradley (she did two shifts for a no-show), Maggie Jagels, Ria Lee, Edith Murphy, Gwen Laurie Smits, Sharon Wright and Bernice Zurbach.
They were exchanging pleasantries about the beauty of the table and the delicious offerings, as the ladies who pour are permitted to do, with quite a crowd: Isabel Arnett, Eleanor McLain, Amytis Barrett (the only new woman on the Associates board), Charmian Robinson, Elsie Sadler, Margery Morse, Tempe Brooks, Marilyn Brumder, Frances Clayton, Alice Coulombe, Ginny Cushman, Pat Earl, Adelaide Hixon, Betty Keatinge, Hellen Tuttle, Beverly Ballard, Malu Wright and Virginia Mahoney, and also with Valerie Hood, whose husband, Leroy, is chairman of the biology division (and rumored to be Nobel Laureate material), and Alice Stone, whose husband, Ed, is chairman of the division of physics, math and astronomy.
They were all drinking Earl Grey tea and vanilla coffee. Somewhere there was sherry, but the Madelines and ginger cookies were in heavier demand.
It was a bit ironic. Associates, quite often men who pledge $20,000 for a life membership (it goes up to $30,000 over 15 years in 1986), had to worry about the money, and received nary a savory. The ladies had tea.