The Valley Line: A fine summer evening for Oakmont League

Slowly, ever so slowly, we are crawling into the dog days of summer. The weather, just as the Greeks and Romans scripted them, is hot, humid and sometimes evil.

This time of the year, according to an ancient storyteller, "the sea boiled, the wine turned sour, dogs grew mad and all other creatures became languid."

I know first hand about the languid part; when it is hot and humid I don't want to move a finger. Yes, I might even growl if I am provoked.

In all seriousness, various sources report that the saying "dog days of summer" came from a Greco/Roman belief that Sirius, also called the Dog Star, was somehow responsible for the hot weather. Sirius is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, which means large dog. Voila! Dog days of summer.


Good thing the dog days weren't quite here yet, because last Friday evening was glorious in every respect for an outdoor party. The Oakmont League of Glendale, a philanthropic organization that is almost 75 years old, held its annual summer fund-raising party.

Chloe and Lee Ross graciously opened their lovely home for more than 70 guests who came to sip refreshing beverages, dine on fine cuisine and share news of their summer vacation trips.

Chloe Ross shared the duties of chairing the event with club member Jeri Benton. The theme for the evening was, "It's a Small World." Each of the dining tables placed in the Ross' expansive back yard were centered with an extensive private collection of Madame Alexander dolls representing many different countries.

The theme of the evening was cleverly introduced by Crescenta Valley music students Gavin Traber on trumpet and Nick Castellana on trombone. They played "It's a Small World," the theme song from Disneyland's amusement ride of the same name. Chloe, who is a retired Glendale Public School music teacher and a private music instructor, introduced her student Carolyn Carothers, who played the flute.

Chloe and Lee's granddaughter, Crysta Ross, seemed to be like a garden fairy as she gracefully offered guests hors d'oeuvres from silver trays. Donna Sauer, outgoing president of the organization, greeted people as they gathered in small groups for chatting.

Cuisine from around the world was served from different stations in the garden and prepared by Frank's Famous Kitchen and Bakery, which also provides catering services. The diners sampled tasty dishes from Italy, China, the Caribbean and Mexico.

One of the highlights of the evening came when a live auction, led by retired professional auctioneer Joe Mendicina, sparked great interest. Two outstanding opportunities were four owner box seats for a Padres baseball game, and also prime Laker seats.

Multi-media artist Hea-Sook Yoo, a classically trained artist from Seoul, Korea, who has dramatically made her mark in the abstract genre of collages created with acrylic, watercolor, oil and other mediums, offered one of her works for the auction. She, along with her husband, Jeff Hyman, explained her unique creative process. They were very generous to make this donation to the club.

A lovely watercolor painting of the famed Colorado Bridge by Jeanie Windoffer was another fine piece of art that went on the auction block.

Oakmont members who lent their talents and elbow grease to make this evening a great success were Sarita Gomez, Natalie Graw, Lana Handley, Marlene Hirt, Shirley Johnstone, Sue Kimberlin, Judy Mendicina, Nina Ratliff, Roberta Raffaelli, Monica Sierra, Rosalie Youra and Pam Spiszman.

Ian Spiszman, Frank Sauer and Larry Ratliff, all spouses of league members, acted as bartenders for the evening's event.


The summer music scene in La Cañada Flintridge continued Sunday evening during Music in the Park. Featured were the traditional sounds of Ireland, with some rock sounds thrown in for good measure, as performed by the Fenians, Southern California's authentic Celtic/rock band.

The group — Terry Casey, Rob Williams, Brendan Harkins, Tardu Yegin and Bryon Holley — were more than delighted about the rising success of their new album, "Take Me Home," released just a month ago.

These "boyos," with the luck of the Irish, say they represent "Everyman — sweet and sorrowful; brave and beautiful; angry and amused."

If you closed your eyes while listening to their music, you could transport yourself to an Irish pub where you might be sipping some of Ireland's finest whiskey that comes from the Gaelic words, "uisce beatha," meaning water of life.

One thing for sure, many of the folks at the park — with or without the whiskey — were dancing a jig to the lively music.


JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada Flintridge social scene. Email her at with news of your special event.

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