Along the Avenue

It is time for polo shirts, pink pants and cabana stripes – and I’m not just talking about on the gals. But before summer’s hottest month sweeps away our early summer memories, let’s look back at a few of June’s parties. For many, these were the last hurrah before debunking for Highland, the Hamptons, Aspen, Jackson Hole and Maine for the summer. Invariably the Avenue set packed books, to read and gift, from New Orleans authors including Julia Reed’s delightful The House on First Street and J.E. Bourgoyne’s Marietta’s House.

When I moved home in 2004, “Juleps in June” was one of the first parties I attended. It was so Southern … magnolias, men in white linen and a Faulkner Society aren’t things one often encounters in New York City. This year, it was held at the stately manse of Patricia Strachan. Rosemary James greeted one and all at the door with miniature silver julep cups and a copy of Hearsay from Heaven and Hades: New Orleans Secrets of Sinners and Saints by TJ Fisher. In the dining room, Thibodeaux’s placed stalks of pitcher plants down the center of the table while roses and greenery draped moss-like from the antique mirrors. Outside in “Mother Rose’s Gardens,” gray, pink and while balloons floated above roses, trumpet plants, boxwood and walkways into which tables had been tucked. Virginia Miller and Bruce Wallis, who took me to my first “Juleps in June” were there along with Dolly Jordan, David Speights, David and Shauna Grissett, Nick Bodor and others numerous, generous and literary.

Generations Hall was the scene of back-to-back fundraisers. The March of Dimes “Spotlight on Success” was held on a Friday and on Saturday, Simone Bruni and Sarah Shaw transformed the rooms for The New Orleans Medical Mission Services Foundation, which provides international health relief around the world, held it’s “Mission Possible” gala. Some 16 silent auction boards lured bidders as did Dan Milham and Greg Battistella’s live auction antics. Honorary chairman Dick Treuting, NOMM’s President and Chairman Dr. Dan Jacob and Dr. Tom Kennedy and their wives sampled Fleur de Lis’ catering. I thought I spotted Senator Fritz Windhorst, Ken Kuebels, and Paul Leamnan Jr. But it was a big crowd in three big rooms. Erica Normand, Fred Mikill II, Louis Wilson and Jim Lilly were definitely on hand.

The next night, Paula Maher, Sara Stone, Hirschel Abbott, Anita Georges, Bill and Laura Plunkett among others put their hands together for Symphony Volunteers at its annual recital and dinner at the JW Marriott. Artists have come from afar for this special evening but this year, the organization looked no further than Uptown … requesting Touro Ob/Gyn Dr. Quinn Peeper and winner of the 26th International Piano Competition at the Giornate Musical Festival, Italy, to be the program’s star.

He played Schumann, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Poulenc and Liszt. As well, the good doctor’s descriptive definitions of the music and composers (Liszt was the Elvis of his day tossing his green gloves to his adoring fans, for example) delighted and enlightened. There was champagne, an elegant dinner and applause for co-chairs Linda Skidmore Forman and Cynthia Glancy.

That caravan of cars headed north on Interstate 59 on the Summer Solstice weren’t Druids in search of a Southern Stonehenge, they were the near and dear to Bob and Ann Anderson who flung open the gates of Abba Orchard for frolicking among acres of blueberries, just perfect for the picking. Among those filling their baskets Michael and Phyllis Schmidt, just back from Tuscany, Aline Walshe, Nell Howcott and children galore.

By now, 22 debs will have made their first formal curtseys at Le Debut, more than a few of those will have been honored at parties this summer and more than a few will be packing their books for college. The city will gear up for White and Dirty Linen Nights and the last roses of summer will be on display. Let’s celebrate summer before it fades!

 Along the Avenue

Dr. Jim Lilly, Co-Chair of the NOMMS Gala, Sarah Shaw  and Maureen Shaw.
Along the Avenue
Linda Skidmore Forman, Symphony Volunteer event co-chair, and her sister, Lynn Skidmore.
Along the Avenue
Anita Georges at the Symphony Volunteer Gala.

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