Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe another year has passed and we are now in 2014 — 106 six years after our Mystery Dancer story left off! In Ursula’s world, it is January 1908, a year of firsts: The first Times Square Ball drop ushered in the new year; the world’s first airplane passenger flew with the Wright brothers; and the first Ford Model T made its debut. It also was the first year of the Cheshires’ new life in Los Angeles, California.
And what better way to start a new year than with a party? On January 29, 1908, the Los Angeles Herald’s “Society” column reported that a “do something” party had been given the previous day in honor of “Mrs. Alfred Dudley Cheshire, late of San Francisco, who will, with her husband, make her home in Los Angeles.”
What is a “do something” party, you might ask? It actually sounds like fun: guests are asked to participate in a “do something” program by presenting an original story, poem or musical performance. At this particular party, Ursula’s mother, Clara, played one of her own compositions on the piano, while other contributions included an impersonation of a “young lady on a street car”; a humorous account — in rhyme — of “an experience in a Turkish bath”; poetry, and more. The partygoers then enjoyed a buffet luncheon under a bower of pepper boughs in a sun parlor festooned with pink carnations.
The newspaper report also includes the first mention of Ursula in a “Society” column. At 5½ years old, she was one of three children who greeted guests at the door and acted as pages during the party, as was common at afternoon events in those days. I have a feeling we’ll be reading a lot more about Ursula and her mother in the society pages of Los Angeles!