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Tea with the ladies makes history — fun

You have to love the holiday season. Parades, craft bazaars and parties. The list of activities goes on and on.

Music fills the air and lifts your spirit.

And then there’s the food. Especially the delicious treats, mostly handmade with lots of love.

There was an abundance of treats and good cheer last week when the women’s association of Grace Community Church held a Lady in Purple Christmas Tea. I was fortunate enough to be invited by my friend Linda Graham, president of the women’s group and wife of the church’s pastor, David Graham.

For the afternoon tea, the church’s dining hall was transformed into a purple winter wonderland. The tablecloths perfectly matched the centerpieces. Even the Christmas tree was adorned with purple ornaments and ribbons. My sister, who has practically decorated her entire home in shades of purple, would have been in heaven.

More delightful than the ambiance was the table in the center of the room that was laden with tea sandwiches, cookies and candies. You could tell that the ladies of the church had selected some of their most treasured recipes to prepare.

Everything looked so good it was hard to select just a few things to sample. And that was my choice; there was no way I could possibly try one of everything. There was just too much.

Even more enjoyable than the treats prepared by the ladies, was a chance to sit down and get to know some of the association members. They were sweeter than the cookies. They shared stories of how they met, some of the great events that happen in Boulder City and more.

Helping to “break the ice” was the program that preceded the tea.

A one-act play showcasing five women who have had a significant impact on Nevada was presented in honor of the state’s sesquicentennial.

Starring in the play were Deb Stolpe as Sarah Winnemucca, Bev Mazza as a mail order bride, Linda Nations as Helen Stewart, Kathy Whitman as Ruth Ball and Sandi Shaw as Clara Bow Bell. David Graham wrote and narrated the one-act play.

I don’t know how long the ladies prepared for the program, but their performances were stellar.

Not only did they seem to capture the essence and mannerisms you might expect from the woman they portrayed, they wore period costumes. It created an illusion like traveling through time as each represented another era in the state’s history.

We started in the state’s early history with Sarah Winnemucca, learning about how she defended her people’s rights and the struggles she has as a woman and Native American.

Then came the feisty mail order bride, who had her own set of qualifications in what she was seeking — and willing to accept — in a husband. Maybe “bride” is a misnomer since she never did marry.

Helen Stewart was next. As one of the founders of Las Vegas, I have heard and read many tales about her life since moving to Nevada. Somehow, hearing those same stories from “her” perspective made them seem more real. You could emphasize with the trials she endured.

Up fourth was Ruth Ball, who I knew nothing about. This quiet demure woman was instrumental in Henderson’s development after her husband came to help run the Basic Magnesium Plant. She became involved in youth activities and eventually became the registrar at Basic High School. She also was a member of Henderson’s Coordinating Councils and was instrumental in organizing social activities for the town’s residents.

Last, but certainly not least, was Clara Bow Bell, who came up to the podium to speak like the Hollywood starlet she used to be.

Each woman was so convincing and remained in character up until they sat down for tea. In fact, Mazza’s mail order bride kept her sassy attitude for most of the afternoon.

I felt the play was so informative and entertaining that it would be a great presentation for elementary school kids. It would certainly hold their attention, and they might learn something about the state’s early history.

I know I did.

For decades I have known about Clara Bow, the “it girl” of Hollywood’s silent era. And, independently I have heard about Rex Bell, former lieutenant governor of Nevada. But I had no idea they were married.

It was one of the most enlightening, entertaining and enjoyable teas I have been to. It certainly tops my list of holiday celebrations. I can’t wait to see what the ladies come up with next year.

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