Escondido City Hall Survives Big To-Do

The delicious comedy of manners that brewed and bubbled here during the last month simmered down to a mere tempest in a teapot Friday when Mayor Jim Rady did, in fact, poke his head in at the gala that previewed the opening of this city’s new and stunningly handsome City Hall.

At a Feb. 17 meeting of the Escondido City Council, Rady announced that he would boycott the $60 per-person “Party of the Century,” given as a fund-raiser by the city-sponsored Escondido Centennial Celebration Committee. Rady said he objected to holding an exclusive event before the general public had the opportunity to tour the building.

“The people should be there the first day and the rich folks the second day--and I’m not running for office,” Rady told the council.


Rady’s reluctance to socialize with the local elite prompted a Feb. 21 editorial in the Escondido Times-Advocate that suggested that the mayor was not only a nattering nabob of negativity, but a party pooper. “Rady has rained on the well-meaning committee’s parade with a from-the-hip populist sentiment,” argued the editorial.

Rady ultimately did agree to join 1,050 of his fellow Escondidans in buying tickets to the event (his decision was duly noted in a March 4 news items in The Times and other publications), and when Friday evening rolled around, the mayor rolled around to City Hall. The invitations specified cocktail attire--there had been some debate about whether Escondido is “a black tie community"--and the mayor looked correct in a dark suit accented by an aubergine necktie that nicely approximated the shade of the building’s carpet.

Asked if he was pleased to be part of the happy throng, Rady, clearly tired of the subject, said, “I never didn’t want to come. I just thought the timing was bad.”

Judging by the smiles that lit most faces, though, the timing was right on target for those who turned out to sip white wine in the structure’s gracious halls and public areas. The general consensus seemed to agree with the string trio in the forecourt that played “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning,” since many of those present saw the erection of the building, the first component of a major civic and cultural complex, as the dawn of a new era for the inland city.

Shelley Lindstrom, executive director of the city’s centennial committee, said that the evening was “a great party for Escondido.” She also called the event an official kickoff to a series of public events--including a street fair and a parade--that will be partly underwritten by “Party of the Century” proceeds and will culminate with the Oct. 8 birthday party at City Hall. Midway through the gala, Lindstrom led a champagne toast to the city’s past and future.

Architect Richard Dalrymple was one of several men who could not resist the urge to turn out in black tie; he expressed himself pleased with his handiwork and said, “I knew this building would be special at night. It’s so special.”

Some of the furnishings that made the building look so special were installed just hours before the party. Kay Byrne, who shared gala chairmanship duties with Jean Stenstrom, said that the upstairs carpet was laid late that afternoon. “The building wasn’t really ready for this party, but we were,” she said.

The guests nibbled tortellini in front of the city clerk’s office, and antipasto by the city attorney’s quarters. In a move that may have been unintended but was certainly serendipitous, pastries were arranged on the massive, doughnut-shaped mahogany table in the principal conference room. (This table features a hole in the center that conceivably could be captured and held by aggressive orators.)

Amusements were many, ranging from the Earle’s Pearls jazz group in the circular City Council chambers (anyone who stands directly beneath this room’s dome will find his voice magnified several times over), to the Lil’ Elmo and the Cosmos ‘50s rock group in the main stairwell.

Doris Thurston Parker, who will become Mayor Parker in June, presided as honorary chairman over a gala committee that included Sue Arsham, Linda Wilson, Ann Lievers, Karen Portillo, Nancy Lyon, Dorothy Pauletto, Patty Delaney, Maggie Singleton, Judy Kroesche, Evelyn Penfield, Terry Wade, Jo Nissen, Dee Strathdee, Janie Eickhoff and Bernadette Stein.

The silly season struck the seaside neighborhood of La Jolla Saturday with the news that the Hot Flashettes again were on the prowl.

A Hot Flashette--and there are 44 of these high-stepping ladies--is a member of Soroptomist International of La Jolla, an association of women professionals that long has sponsored the annual Village Vaudeville, and Saturday celebrated the silver anniversary of this popular community show and fund-raiser. The Flashettes, required by custom to don beaded “flapper” gowns two weekends each year, serve as the chorus line of a show in two acts that includes everything from corny comedy to serious singing.

A gala reception at La Jolla Country Club preceded Saturday’s performance of “Silver Sophisticates,” the name of this year’s Vaudeville. Some 300 guests attended the fund-raiser, the proceeds of which will be added to Vaudeville revenues, the chief source of funding for Soroptomist charitable projects.

Soroptomist President Betty Press, a Flashette of long standing and a solid, serious businesswoman most of the time, was on hand for the reception. “We all have full-time jobs that keep us busy, but we always find time for this, which is our way of giving back to the community,” she said. “We use the proceeds to zoom in on womens’ causes, everything from programs that assist battered women to sponsorship of a girls’ softball team.”

Director Dick Ford also showed up to sample the freshly carved turkey and roast beef. Something of an institution in Vaudeville terms (he has directed six of the last eight shows), Ford said that he opted to take an on-stage role as well, just to stretch out his participation.

“It’s awfully hard to direct and be in the show, but if you don’t take some little part, you’re finished after opening night,” said Ford. His idea of a “little part” was participation in a skit called “Dogs and Violins” that also starred his pet pooch, Tripper.

The Vaudeville first took to the stage in 1964, to meet its stated purpose of “utilizing the wealth of talent in La Jolla in a home talent show (that) would not only be a money-making project, but an occasion for perpetuating the fast disappearing village atmosphere in a rapidly expanding La Jolla.”

This sort of statement, if issued presently in La Jolla, certainly would strike a responsive chord. The truth of the matter is that 25 years after its inception, the Vaudeville continues to perpetuate the village atmosphere; Saturday, entertainers and entertained all seemed to know one another, a fact that nearly dissolved the invisible wall that usually separates an audience from the stage.

The show continues at Parker Auditorium on Friday and Saturday with a roster of entertainment that includes more than a sufficiency of hoary jokes, as well as skits by popular performers who have been in the show almost since its inception.

Among the Flashettes sponsoring the Vaudeville are Linda Beach, Connie Beights, Lois Cyr, Shirleymae Davis, Cecelia Felcher, Shelley Gellman, Mimi Hambrick, Barbara Scott, Rose Mary Taylor, Kathe Heitt, Thelma Jasper, Joan Peterson, Mary Kathryn Riggs, Mary Wayne and Carol Tuggey.