The Valley Line: Oktoberfest comes to the Thursday Club

Autumn arrived last Sunday at exactly 1:44 p.m. Did you notice? Last weekend was such a delight because our little world here in the foothills had a different feel to it. Even my garden looked different.

The cool mornings brought a crispness to the day that we hadn’t felt in such a long time. I hope that the beautiful liquidambar trees that dot our landscape got the message. Soon we can just pull up a lawn chair, sit back and watch them change colors.

The Thursday Club greeted this first eve of the autumn season beautifully with a social event held in the club’s historic Spanish Revival-style clubhouse on Woodleigh Lane.

The evening had an Oktoberfest feel about it with the colorful leaves decorating the buffet table. Sprigs of berries lined the fireplace mantel, accented with glowing candles in tall crystal cylinders. Crystal beer steins topped by white chrysanthemums centered each dining table. Colorful balloons were tied to the handles of each stein. Thursday Club member Jody Platisa created the floral decor in the clubhouse.

Club members Sheri Morton and Alma Tycer were the party chairs and they did a superb job of pulling together each detail. They were delighted to greet the nearly 130 members and guests who came to take part in this autumn festival. Gale Caswell, president of the club, also welcomed guests.

Upon arrival guests gravitated to the club’s patio for hors d’oeuvres and conversation. Gene Wilcott and Tom Kempson were the very able and extremely busy bartenders — I don’t think they ever got a break. I guess people were pretty thirsty.

Cynthia Brooks Catering created the absolutely perfect menu for an festive Oktoberfest party — warm German potato salad, grilled bratwurst with sauteed onions and red peppers, chicken schnitzel, a purple cabbage slaw and a caramel apple pie for dessert. Brooks also caters the club’s monthly luncheons and she does an outstanding job.

Providing the tunes for the evening was Otis Hutchins’ Wright Stuff Jazz Band. Otis, who is the tuba player, is the husband of club member Pat Hutchins.

The Thursday Club dining room was rocking with polka tunes and Dixieland jazz licks. Dee Trent played banjo and Doris Goss was the pianist. Doris, who is a lively 93 year-old redhead, knows her way around a piano and there isn’t anything that she can’t play. They will be coming back to the club in February for a reprise performance.

The festive evening was a great way to begin a new club year.


Bob Craven was a “birthday boy” last week and he got to choose how he wanted to spend his very special day. His choice was the Abraham Lincoln exhibit at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.

Accompanying him on this birthday adventure was his wife, Liz, and their daughter, Caroline.

I just happened to be at the exhibit on the same day with my friend, Jeanne Walston, and her friend, Mary Lewis, whom she has known since childhood.

The Lincoln exhibit is only open for a few more days. I hope you can make a last-minute dash to see it before it closes on Sept. 30 because it is quite spectacular.

Thirty renowned Lincoln collectors and Dream Works Studios brought this exhibit to the library. There are more than 250 Lincoln objects on display, including Lincoln’s famous stovepipe hat, his gold pocket watch, a bloodied pillow from the night he died, a Lincoln-signed Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment, and sets and costume from the Dream Works’ “Lincoln” movie.

After Bob Craven went through the exhibit, his next birthday surprise was to go to the library museum store to pick out whatever T-shirt he wanted for his birthday present. He said it was his favorite gift this year.

By the way, the next exhibit to open at the library is set for Oct. 24 and it is all about intrigue — I know it will be quite fascinating. The exhibit is called “Spies: The Secret World of Espionage.”


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

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