Stepping Back in Time
By Maureen Robertson
Wearing the tailcoats, top hats, bustles, satin dresses, hooped skirts, and cravats of another era, 92 people stepped back in time to enjoy an 1894-style Christmas dinner in Ramona Town Hall and experience a bit of the town’s history Saturday evening.
“In this age where everything is either wired or wireless, our goal here tonight is to take everyone back to a simpler time,” W.T. “Woody” Kirkman, Ramona Town Hall Board president, said in the West Wing of the 118-year-old adobe hall.
The evening, the first of its kind in Town Hall in at least 50 years, included a four-course turkey dinner.
“Starting with the Town Hall’s first Christmas, local merchants donated apples and oranges to be given to each boy and girl in town — a tradition that continued into the 1930s,” said Kirkman. “This evening, apples and oranges have been worked into the menu in honor of this much simpler time.”
Augustus and Martha Barnett donated Town Hall to
the townspeople of Ramona on Washington’s birthday, Feb. 22, 1894.
“We are honored to have one of their great-great grandsons, Phil Parker, and his wife Clare” at the dinner, Kirkman noted. At a dinner and tour of the Barnett Ranch house the Parkers hosted a earlier this year, they presented Town Hall trustees with a sepia illustration of the house by Ramona artist Sonia Peterson. The Parkers, Peterson, and Kirkman unveiled the artwork, hanging from a West Wing wall, at the dinner.
Breaking with Town Hall’s No Intoxicating Liquor tradition, Kirkman announced the current trustees had rescinded the alcohol ban and he called for a toast: “To this magnificent gift bestowed upon our town so many years ago — the Town Hall — Cheers!”
The evening netted approximately $4,500 for the building’s upkeep and renovation, and Kirkman thanked Barona Casino for its donation of $2,500, and Schwaesdall Winery for its sponsorship.
As guests seated in the West Wing and Bank Wing enjoyed the evening, Marsha Anderson and Dottie Day, Kirkman’s mother and mother-in-law, respectively, selected the Best Dressed winners: Jamie LeClair and Jim Cooper. LeClair wore a
Victorian-style satin dinner dress with a bustle and vintage boots. Cooper described his dress as a “1900s gentleman’s presentation,” saying everything from his raccoon coat to his pocketwatch is authentic.
Entertainment came from pianist Pam Stubbs, who donated her time and talent, and her son, violinist Andy Stubbs. Members of Ramona’s All-Elementary Choir sang a medley of holiday tunes under the direction of their teacher, Donna Ransdell.
After hearing a bevy of compliments about the evening, Kirkman said they may do it again next year.
“Now that we have one under our belt, we just may do this again,” he said.
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