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Thanks to all who made the 2010 Back Alley Garden Tour & Tea a grand success

By Staff | Jun 11, 2010

Shepherdstown celebrated the end of spring in fine fashion with the presentation of the annual Back Alley Tour and Tea. And what a presentation it was! As the tea Coordinator, I wanted to acknowledge and profusely thank all the volunteers that made the Back Alley Tea such a success. Someone said “It takes a village to raise a child” but I want everyone to know that it took the whole village of Shepherdstown (and everywhere between Martinsburg , Harper’s Ferry, Charlestown and Keedysville) to put on the tea. I could never have done it without my faithful committee coordinators, Shirley Derr, Martha Young, Nieltje Gedney, Sheri Garner and Diane Cushing.

Many of the wonderful volunteers are yearly “returnees”. One of the most important groups that I can count on without fail are our “flower” servers, who all are, without fail, the nicest, politest, most cheerful and hardworking teenagers that one could hope to work with. This is their fourth tea and big kudos go to the Howards, Libby who does all the paper work, and Nathan, who is the best recruiter I have ever seen. In addition to Nate, they were Sierra Grabowska, Katy Super, Anya Wallace, Mariah Lukens, Kathryn Paquet, Ellie Coggins, Serena McDonald, Molly Briggs, Carlos Nathan, and Zoe Levine. Most of them stayed both days, all day.

We worked hard to make the tea a charming place to rest after the ardors of walking the tour. Diane Cushing helped me decorate. (Since she can still climb tall ladders, she had to do the lattice screen and hang the umbrellas from the chandeliers). She also did the signs found all over Shepherdstown and spruced up the front of the Library and the Shepherdstown Volunteer Caregivers Office. Jane McSwain loaned me the child’s table and chairs again, we borrowed Lillian Kinser’s dolls and doll’s picnic set and we used Nieltje Gedney’s child’s tea set which was on the table. Judy Olson let “Aunt Rose” and “Guido” join my “Mae” at their own tea party in the corner. Meg Spurlin made the beautiful flower arrangements in the windows using flowers from many of our gardens plus from her own. They certainly followed the theme of “April Showers bring May flowers” and enhanced the atmosphere of the room. The Friday Painters provided many of their works of art to help create a welcoming touch. Judy Olson did our flyers and cards with her usual capable cheerfulness. A crucial part of the tea is the use of the tea urns and gorgeous tea cups and teapots loaned to us by Donn Marshall and his Shelly A. Marshall Foundation. Sheri Garner, now known as the “Hot Tea Lady” and the other tea ladies Vicky Thomas, Vicki Lanham, Lily Hill, Joan Keith, Carol Ringoot, Cindy Keller, and Doreen Wooten helped slake the thirst of the hardy walkers. Eunice Earls, Sylvia Boyer and Gaye Snyder took Tea tickets.

The kitchen was most efficiently run by Shirley Derr, Martha Young and Nieltje Gedney. Kitchen helpers and sandwich makers were Ann Eden, Judy Jenner, Anne Small, and Jenny Haynes. A very important crew was the cup washers since the cups were antique and many were hand painted. Those hardy souls who had to do their work standing up were Bill Butts, Jenny Haynes, Judy Jenner, Millie Wells, Lillian Kinser, Winnie Bernat, Mary Clare Eros, Diane Kradel, Didi Champion and Mehmiah Packard. The ladies hidden behind the screen filling plates were Kelly Duncan, Judith Briod, Peggy Humphreys, Pam Arnold, Ann Knode, Judy Jenner, and Merit Davis.

Two special ladies I want to thank for moving from being my tea volunteers to being the docents at the Thomas Shepherd Grist Mill are Alice McCarthy and Geneva Davenport. (It is hard to give up good help but I knew they would be perfect for that position.)

Thirty five wonderful bakers pulled together and provided 2884 cookies and 500 scones. They are Carol Asam, Aileen Boyd, Nan Broadhurst, Merit Davis, Honor Dorsey Anne Eden, Jean Ehman, Sheri Garner, Nieltje Gedney, Pat Grinnen, Jacque Haynes, Jenny Haynes, Libby Howard, Peggy Humphreys, Judy Jenner, Nancy Kautz, Joan Keith, Alice McCarthy, Wendy Mosely, Esther Murphy, Judy Olson, Christine Parfitt, Vina Vaughn Parmesano, Judy Shepherd, Bonnie Sitman, Anne Small, Vicki Smith, Suzy Spencer, Vicky Walker, Ann Wayt, Doreen Wooten, Martha Young, Mina Goodrich, who made 200 pepper cookies, Shirley Derr who made 500 tea cakes, Carol Dunleavy who made 500 rosemary cookies and my committee who each made 100 scones.

The worst part of having a big event like this is the clean-up. I had such extraordinary helpers who either signed up or just plain stayed to get it all taken down, boxed up, put in my car, and cleaned and mopped the floors, all in just two hours. These amazing people are Anne Small, Judy Shepherd, Judy Jenner, David Startzell, Judith Briod, Nate Howard, Roy Winkel and Didi Champion. Thanks to Mary Stanley, the Tour Coordinator and Vicki Lanham, her “assistant in training” and Mary’s husband Bob Smith for all their support. I’d also like to thank the two unknown men that I snagged at the Farmer’s Market to carry ice up the stairs for me. And naturally, huge thanks to my husband Mike, who though busy with the Friday Painters and his bees, put up with no dinner smells wafting from the kitchen and endless phone calls. If I missed anyone, I am truly sorry. Now it can be seen that it really does take a village to put on a tea!

Bonnie Austin

Back Alley Tea Coordinator

Shepherdstown Men’s Club Hospitality Chairwoman