Stepping Back in Time

Ramona Rockettes stand in front of the Living Christmas Card at the entrance of Town Hall, 729 Main St. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson
Ramona Rockettes stand in front of the Living Christmas Card at the entrance of Town Hall, 729 Main St. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

Ramona Town Hall trustees and Honorary Mayor Sharon Davis lead their guests in song during the first Christmas dinner in the historic Town Hall in approximately 50 years. From left are: W.T. “Woody” Kirkman, board president; Sandee Salvatore, secretary and treasurer; Darrell Beck, board member and Construction Committee chair; Davis; Bob Hailey, board member and Honorary Mayor Committee chair; and Bob Krysak, vice president. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

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

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Ken Davis takes photos of guests in front of the Town Hall Living Christmas Card. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

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Breaking with Town Hall’s No Intoxicating Liquor tradition, Kirkman announced the current trustees had rescinded the alcohol ban and he called for a toast: “To this magnificent gift bestowed upon our town so many years ago — the Town Hall — Cheers!”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

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W.T. amp;quot;Woodyamp;quot; Kirkman talks with violinist Andy Stubbs and pianist Pam Stubbs. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

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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Honorary Mayor Sharon Davis, who coordinated the event, visits with Dawn and Woody Kirkman. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson
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Dodie and past Honorary Mayor Chuck Apgar enjoy the evening. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson
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Phil Parker, Woody Kirkman, Clare Parker, and artist Sonia Peterson stand in front of the Barnett house illustration. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson
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Jim Cooper responds to applause as Woody Kirkman introduces him as the Best Dressed man at the dinner. At left is Jamie LeClair, Best Dressed woman. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson
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Bob Krysak, Town Hall vice president, and Jim Salvatore, husband of Town Hall secretary/treasurer Sandee Salvatore, tend bar. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson
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Steve and Barbara Lawrence and Jamie LeClair toast Town Hall. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson
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Children in Ramona Unified School Districtamp;#39;s All-Elementary Choir, directed by teacher Donna Ransdell, sing a medley of holiday songs for guests at the Town Hall Christmas Dinner. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson
   
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