Way hosts ‘Downton Abbey’ gathering PDF Print E-mail
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor   
Thursday, 20 June 2013 09:34
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Barbara Flahiff (left) of Perrysburg chats with library volunteers Pat Muast (middle) and Wendie Kiskaddon (right) during a Downtown Abbey themed tea party at Way Public Library. (Photos: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
PERRYSBURG - Big hats with feathers and flowers, jeweled chokers and antique purses came out of Wood County closets Tuesday night as fans of the PBS blockbuster hit series Downton Abbey partied with fellow travelers.
Nearly 90 women - and four brave men - converged on the lower level of the Way Public Library for a high society Downton-themed tea party that channeled the manor house style of pre- and post-World War I England. The tribute to the phenomenally popular Masterpiece Theater program that has riveted followers on both sides of the Atlantic ever since its 2010 debut was dreamed up as a highlight of the library's 2013 adult summer reading program.
"I've been a fan from the day it started," gushed Joan Caswall of Perrysburg, who sported a huge-brimmed red hat with flowers and ribbon, a long black dress with tiny sleeves and a black lace choker with jet beads. Even her belt was authentic, circa 1920.
"The clothes; I love the British humor," Caswall said, explaining why she is enthralled with the show. "I love the way there's such a modesty with love and sex" in the period series that falls somewhere between accurate historic fiction and high-brow soap opera.
Her pouch-style bag, also an antique, featured gold embroidery, jet beading and a big black tassel.
"It was my aunt's."
Library volunteers dressed as downstairs maids in the mode of series favorites "Anna" and "O'Brien" served up hot tea with lemons, cream and even tongs for the sugar cubes.
Guests were invited to bring their own favorite tea cup to drink out of and many did, with delicate gold-rimmed bone china especially well represented.
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Joyce Grimshaw (left) and daughter Sharla Cook (right), under the pseudonyms of Duchess Elsie Watermill of Wayne and Lady Mae Watermill of Wayne, enjoy tea.
There were scones with lemon sauce, petit fours, fresh strawberries and more to nibble on.
Acting as host for the program which followed was Cathy Kamenca of WGTE public television, who held the audience rapt with teaser Downton film clips, prize giveaways and even a couple of Season 4 spoilers.
Especially amusing was a four-minute clip that condensed the entire first two years of the plot, and managed to repeatedly refer back to the demise (gasp) of the Turkish diplomat Pamuk in the virginal bed of Lady Mary Crawley (gasp).
If you haven't already heard, O'Brien is off the show; Lady Mary and her newborn baby, "George," won't be getting along too well; and she has two new suitors lined up to replace the much-mourned Matthew who met a heartbreaking end in the final 60 seconds of 2013's concluding episode.
Since that riveting third-year finale in late February, the show's 5 million U.S. viewers are currently enduring a long dry spell until eight new episodes are finally unveiled in the States, months behind their UK debut. Kamenca said it will run Sunday nights from Jan. 5 until Feb. 28, 2014.
Tuesday's tea party-goers were invited to rename themselves by combining the title of either "Lady/Lord," "Duchess/Duke" or "Princess/Prince" with their own middle name followed by the name of the street on which they live, and the county in which they were born.
Most did end up sounding impressively British as in the case of this reporter, reborn as "Lady Louise Mercer of Putnam."
Marty Hogle of Perrysburg, who said her Downton name was Lady Lee Cricket of William, could have won the best-dressed award if one had been given.
She wore a high-collared ivory lace blouse with a cameo pin that had belonged to her English mother, and a cream satin hat with fabric flowers.
Hogle says she found the hat while on a visit to Ohio Amish territory. "It was in a store where they sell linens and things."
An occasional historic reenactor, she's used it for other events, including Historic Perrysburg's 2012 Titanic anniversary soiree and when she portrays the character of the 19th century Christian hymn writer Fannie Crosby.
Accompanying Hogle at the Downton Abbey tea was her granddaughter, 26-year-old Jenilee Dolder of Bowling Green.
Dolder says she's a latecomer to the Downton fan club, but an enthusiastic one nonetheless.
"The first episode I ever watched was the season three finale" which was on while she was visiting at her grandmother's home. She was immediately hooked.
"We were hoping Matthew wasn't really dead," she recalls.
She's since gotten entirely caught up by buying the first two seasons on iTunes.
 

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