by Loyce Braun
The month of June is the end of the Ebell’s formal program year and it is historically the month when new members of the Board of Directors are elected and installed. In June of 1928, President Read, who had served an unprecedented two terms as Board President in order to oversee the enormous task of constructing and opening the new Clubhouse on Wilshire, stepped down to grateful accolades, having presided over the first contested election of a president in 10 years. In fact there were three other contested positions on the board, and five newspapers – The Times, The Express, The Record, The Examiner and the Evening Herald – all covered the unusual circumstances with great interest. The two candidates for office of President were Mrs. Bennett Cooke, a fourteen-year member who had also been the President of the Women’s Federation of Tennessee before settling in Los Angeles, and Mrs. Ilot Johnson, who had served as Mrs. Read’s first vice president. The election brought out the largest number of voters in Ebell history: 1,165 of our more than 3,000 members cast ballots. Members voted in person at the clubhouse, with polls open from 9 to 3. Many members were so keenly interested in the outcome of the election that they stayed through the dinner hour to hear the results. Campaigning had been said to be uncharacteristically intense with “active members forming themselves into definite camps.” Mrs. Johnson did not win the election and Mrs. Bennett Cooke became the Ebell’s 17th president. Mrs. Johnson may have been fortunate in her loss as this quote from the Herald reveals.
“Election to office for these women means that they must forego summer vacations, as an unwritten agreement in the club makes it mandatory that officers must not absent themselves from the city for an extended time, and that only illness which confines them to the house excuses absences from Board meetings.”
The Express of June 6 lauded the Ebell for its “careful and dignified elections,” unlike the scandalous scrambles of the California Federation of Women’s Clubs in Sacramento and San Diego that year, and clearly all was reconciled and harmonious by the time the last event of the year and the first real gala in the new Clubhouse took place on June 23. It was a Spanish Fete, to celebrate and also benefit the furnishings fund. Approximately $3,000 remained to be raised of the $135,000 required. Various members were to perform Spanish songs and dances and music, supplemented by professional entertainers and then all sat down to a fine dinner and concluded the festivities with the crowning of “The Queen of the Fiesta” ( chosen from eleven lovely young members, I know not how) who would then open “the Ball,” the concluding event of the evening. Mrs. Charles A. Chamberlain was crowned queen and presided over an attendance of 1,200 people.