Ebell Open House

By Shirlee Taylor Haizlip

Sunday, January 15, 2012, indeed a historic day for the Ebell.

There was no way we could anticipate or plan for each and every aspect, since there had been no template or precedent for the public of Los Angeles to visit the Ebell Clubhouse.

Hopefully, we had planned for at least one hundred visitors.  We ordered flowers, gave the building a good cleaning, solicited the gratis talent of ten performers, including singers, guitarists, pianists, a girl group of five sisters and an organ player. We put down the carpets, rearranged the furniture and set out a TV on a sideboard so football fans could see but not hear their big game.

The day of the event, an extensive and beautifully written article appeared on the front page of the California section of the Sunday Los Angeles Times and continued on an inside page with a significant number of gorgeous pictures reflecting a charming, stately, elegant, old-world beautiful place. It was mesmerizing, enchanting, mysterious. Tours were to begin at 1:30 pm. The first guests arrived directly from church services at l2:15 pm, eager to look around.

Tours led by the President began earlier then planned, because at 1:00 pm the two parking lots were filled, and a line had formed at the front door that snaked around the corner from Lucerne and Wilshire. The musicians began to play.  Then, as if a secret signal had been given, hordes of men, women, children of all ages and races swarmed into the building. With excitement and eagerness they looked at the ceilings, floors, lights, walls, draperies, furniture and the materials we had put out for their
edification.  They sat in the beautiful chairs, gazed out the cathedral windows, glided up and down the stairs and listened to the music. They surveyed the scene from the balcony. They tramped over to the
Theatre to hear the organ. They tramped back to hear the blues guitarist on the terrace. The weather held.

Three past Presidents were witnesses, hostesses and tour guides. As reinforcement platoons marched up the stairs, behind Board members and other volunteers leading tours through the second floor, with glimpses into the Board Room, the Junior Room, the Bride’s Room, the Musicians’ Balcony, and the hat and costume collections.  Tour groups passed each other like cross-continental trains. The legions were well-mannered, intensely interested and wanted to know everything about this place they were filling.

Squadrons went to the third floor where they heard about and saw the scene of Amelia Earhart’s first visit and last talk to the Ebell on April 7, 1937.  They saw the rooms where The Artist, J. Edgar and Forrest Gump were filmed.  They enthusiastically lined up at the membership tables to get more information, fill out applications and write checks. They bonded with their tour mates and swapped stories of Ebell experiences or memories in their own families.  They looked as if they had been transported to another place and time.

As different tour clusters criss-crossed the Garden they looked like clusters of happy ducklings following Mama ducks.

Yes, we collected their vital statistics, their email addresses, phone numbers and other relevant information.  If we did not have answers to their questions, we told them to call or email this week to obtain what they wanted to know.  At four o’clock, stragglers were still coming in as the closing procedures unfolded.  Thelast guests were gone by six.

The staff, the Board, the Membership Committee and the other member volunteers were exhilarated to have such a huge turnout. The Ebell beamed.  She knew that day she was once again the adored grande diva that she always believed she was.  Her lights glistened more brightly.  Her floors glowed more deeply.  Her walls stood more staunchly. All challenges had been met, and the Ebell had more than 1500 new BFF’s.

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