Susan McSherry was on the verge of moving from a home that her family had carefully restored. She was amazed that despite the meticulous restoration, potential buyers were wondering where the playroom and/or media room was.
How ironic on a day when 340 guests like Susan Williams and husband Highland Park Mayor Joel Williams, former Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm, Veletta Lill, Marj Waters, Robin Robinson, Caroline Rose Hunt, Max Wells, Anne Hobson, Nancy Carter, Debbie Francis, Sara Martineau, Carlton Adams, Margo Goodwin, Marilyn Augur, Aileen Pratt, Jill Smith, Ann Dyer, Barbara Sypult, Stuart Bumpas, Christie Carter, Angie Kadesky, Dedie Leahy and noted local historian Virginia McAlester were celebrating a double centennial of the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance Foundation (DCMSAF) and the historic Aldredge House at the Dallas Country Club.
To add to the occasion, Co-Chairs Sharon and Mike McCullough arranged to have 105-year-old Margaret McDermott and Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler on hand as honorary co-chairs.
With history-loving Pierce Allman serving as emcee introduced 100th DCMSAF President Barenda Hino.
Highlights of the luncheon included Lunch Co-Chair Lindalyn Adams without notes telling the 100-year founding of DCMSAF with DCMSAF historian Elizabeth Gunby looking on. Lindalyn had both honorary co-chairs speak.
Having grown up on Swiss Avenue, Ruth told of her childhood growing up with her two big brothers, Jim Collins and Carr Collins. It was Carr, who raced up stairs telling mother Collins, “Mother, come get Ruthie. She’s showing off again.”
Next to speak was “the heroine of cultural arts” —Margaret Milam McDermott. Staying in her wheelchair, she thanked the crowd and had her daughter Mary McDermott Cook speak for her. Mary turned the mic over to Joel, who said he had a special honor being seated between the two honorary co-chairs. He then said that if the group wanted to raise some money, he would be willing to auction off his seat. Joel then told how Margaret moved into the city of Highland Park in 1919 and has lived in the town longer “than anyone else that we know.” He went on to recall that each year Margaret has been invited to light the Highland Park Christmas tree on Armstrong, which is the oldest Christmas tradition in Dallas County. For the past five years, “Margaret has shown up and lighted that 152-year-old tree.”
After lunch Lindalyn and Pierce were joined on stage by American historian/author Dr. William Seale, who is a rock star in the world of historic renovation and preservation. When asked if the younger generation was appreciating and supporting past works, he said, “Most definitely. In fact, there are magazines devoted to it. The mistake that sometimes made is to try to convert a house into what you already understand is how the house should be rather than knowing it and basing your renovations on the building, letting the building be itself. That is one of the big things in architectural design and remodeling houses today is to understand the past of the house and honor that.”
Lindalyn recalled when a TV crew that had worked with “The Waltons” program negotiated to film a new show at Aldredge House. The only caveat was that they ‘wouldn’t say anything derogatory about our city.” They agreed saying it was a family show. The pilot aired with Sue Ellen Ewing forced to disrobe in Mrs. Aldredge’s parlor. The phone lines lit up. The show turned out to be “Dallas.”
When Aldredge family member Betty Aldredge Slater was later in Europe, word got out that it was her family’s parlor that Sue Ellen shed her clothes, the BBC interviewed her. Betty’s doctor also noted that he “particularly liked your stables.”
William told how visitors to historic homes want “authenticity. They’re very honest. If you’re honest to them, they’re honest to you. You don’t have to recreate the battle on the front yard. You just have to be accurate. In this world the historic building or house is a very worthwhile thing. In a world that we live in that doesn’t have a lot of accuracy. Most of what we look at or see on television is inaccurate. If you know anything about it, you know it’s inaccurate. It( the historic building) is the real thing. That’s what people appreciated in these places.”
When asked if The Aldredge House belonged on a national register of historical places in addition to its being recently receiving a Texas Historical Marker, William said, “Absolutely. Absolutely.”
Admitting that it would never be a mass tourist attraction due to logistics and the Alliance not want it to be, William went on to say that for people who seek it out, it will always provide for them what they’re after.
Going a bit off subject, he told how President Woodrow Wilson “hadn’t liked women, but he was controlled by women. As the war approached, suffrage, you know had organized the ladies everywhere. They demanded that a women’s commission for the government on the war and finally Wilson grudgingly did it. They laughed about it and called them ‘country club girls’ in Washington and they were kind of poo-pooed and made fun of. It is true that the first thing they did was to sponsor a law that removed brothels and saloons from being near the Army camps. There is an old story in New Orleans about Lulu White, the famous madame in Storeyville, being in a bread line. When asked why she was there, she said, ‘The country club girls have put us out of business.'”
Alas, just as the celebration was scheduled to conclude with a champagne toast, it had to be done with ice tea. Seems behind the scenes the bottles of bubbly hadn’t been uncorked in time.
For more pictures from the event, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.