S.D. Woman's Club: More Than 100 Years With Water Crisis

The San Diego Woman's Club, an organization that not long after its founding worked "to secure cheaper and better public baths for women and children" and whose current programs include the assistance of battered women, Tuesday began its celebration of its centennial year with a formal recognition of members of 50 and more years standing and a fashion show of turn-of-the-century apparel.

Appropriately enough, the event at the handsome Third Avenue clubhouse, designed by leading architect Frank Hope and built in 1940, took place on the nationally designated Citizenship Day. The proceedings opened in time-honored fashion with a prayer, the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National Anthem.

Mirroring a situation that many in the city believe still exists, the club grew out of the 1887-88 "water crisis," fueled by a population explosion that exhausted the unreliable flow of the San Diego River. "The slogan then was 'Too many people, not enough water,' and a century later we've come around to the same problem," said Centennial coordinator Pauline Thompson.

Following the 1885 real estate boom provoked by the removal of the city from Old Town to what is now downtown by Alonzo Horton, population rose from 5,000 to 40,000, until the water shortages of 1888 caused 10,000 to depart in that year alone. The response of the Chamber of Commerce included the organization of the Ladies' Annex to the Chamber, whose purpose was to promote the city as a desireable place to live. Members pledged to shop locally and to work for improved water supplies, parks, new railroads and a public market. The return of prosperity in 1892 caused the Annex to be disbanded, but seven members who felt that women could and should make contributions to civic life immediately founded the San Diego Club to take its place. In 1925, the group expanded the name to San Diego Woman's Club.

"Through the years this club has given literally millions of dollars to charities," said President Dorothea Barbour, who, like other members of the centennial committee wore for the occasion the high-necked shirtwaist blouse and ankle-length skirt favored during the "Gibson Girl" era that coincided with the club's founding.

"We have supported every organization for women and children that I've ever heard of. Right now we're very concerned with battered women and have many volunteers in Meals-on-Wheels." Barbour added that in the early days, the first of those millions of dollars were raised by club members who would roast an entire ox and charge 25 cents per person at all-you-can-eat dinners. "I'd like to see women dressed like we are today do something like that in 1991," she said.

Club publicist Julie Batchelor said that the practical concerns of daily life have been and continue to be at the forefront of the club's efforts. Early programs included support for women's suffrage (Susan B. Anthony and Dr. Anna Shaw spoke to the group in 1895), the passage of a law requiring the testing of milk for tuberculosis, separate prison facilities for women, women doctors in mental hospitals, minimum wage and child labor laws and the abolition of the red light district that existed in what is now the southern portion of the Gaslamp Quarter. More recent programs include the establishment of the San Diego Scenic Drive and support for a motorcycle helmet law.

Barbour said that a primary goal of the centennial year is the addition of at least 50 new members to the current roster of 274. Special events include a gala luncheon to be given February 15--First Lady Barbara Bush has been invited to speak, and the club remains hopeful that she will, although confirmation has not yet been received.

At Tuesday's event, Helen Eilerman was honored for longest continuous membership; others recognized for 50 years of more of membership were Marjorie Foxworthy, Harriette Marshall, Emily Kelly Switters, Rowena Naidl, Betty Lydon, Elizabeth Montgomery, Kathryn Naiman, Elsie Gillia, Margaret Lowrie and Louise Day. The centennial committee includes Eileen Kruzen, Ann Mokiao, Mary Eleanor Jones, Phyllis Wood, Kathleen Coates and Virginia Riedy.

LA JOLLA--Numerologists, get out your calculators. On Friday the 13th, 13 hospital chefs labored to serve a six-course meal to 350 guests, most of them drawn from health care professions. The result added up to $35,000 for the beneficiary, the Transitional Employment Program for brain injured patients at Sharp Memorial Hospital.

Given in the ballroom at La Jolla Marriott, the third annual Gourmet Summit featured the best efforts of executive chefs from 13 Southern California hospitals served by the health care division of Marriott Management Services. All worked on the dinner, and during the Champagne reception several offered demonstrations of hors d'oeuvres preparation and simple garnishing techniques. If anything, the evening proved that the potential at least exists for decent hospital fare, and that goo rather than bon gout need not be the perpetual plat du jour for those whose medical conditions already are causing them some degree of suffering.

Despite the prodigious number of chefs, six committee members found themselves drafted into the labor pool at mid-day, when the construction of the elaborate salads turned out to be too time-consuming for the staff to handle on its own. Of the experience, co-chair Barbara Llorente, who when not tossing greenery serves as director of patient care services at Sharp Memorial, said "We had to practice, but after a while we wowed 'em in the kitchen. Now we know our La Rosa lettuce from our oak leaf lettuce, and now I know I'm going to remain a nursing director and not become a chef."

Maggie Schuman, who chaired the event with her fiance, Bob Watkins, said that the unlucky connotations of the day escaped her notice until after it had been chosen. "I'm very superstitious, but it all seems to be going well," she said. "Some really creative minds got together on this." Schuman specified that romance and glamour be twin themes of the arrangements, and the candlelight dinner was served behind a bower of potted trees and flowering plants, fountains and pools.

Sharp Memorial executive chef Steve Stancer supervised preparation of the dinner, which opened with a tricolor vegetable timbale and continued with Mexican-style abalone, salad, a sorbet of tropical fruits, stuffed pheasant breast and a ganache torte. "It's a lot harder cooking for this group than for patients, but it's more of a challenge to cook in a hospital, because you can't use butter and cream," he said.

Among guests were Sharp Health Care chief Peter Ellsworth and his wife, Doris; Rita and Rudy Galicia; Eleanora and Johyn Barson; Cindy and Daniel McLEan; Marion Hubbard; Debbie and Bob Kelly; Marlene and Chuck Koch; Jan and Ron Stichler; Meredith and Lawrence Pollak, and Julie and Dick Ormsby.

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