SAN DIEGO — Karon Luce cooked dinner at home Sunday evening for her husband, Gordon; several other relatives, and close pals Charles and Susan Edwards.
This news, which on its face sounds somewhat less than earthshaking, gains more than a little interest from the fact that one of the relatives--albeit a quite distant one--was Ambassador Clare Boothe Luce, the author, playwright and former congresswoman who was Dwight D. Eisenhower's emissary to Italy.
(Karon, by the way, whipped up the carte du jour using just one hand, her left being encased in a plaster cast after she took a tumble in a mini-bike accident while vacationing in Bermuda. "I like to live dangerously," she joked, adding that she intends to stick to four-wheeled vehicles from now on.)
In town to speak to a convention of Catholic Health Care Assn. executives, Clare Boothe Luce was treated to a luncheon Monday noon at the San Diego Museum of Art, over whose board of trustees Gordon Luce presides. The select guest list ran to just over 40 souls, including the ambassador's granddaughter, Clare Luce; U.S. Rep. Ron Packard; federal Judges Gordon Thompson Jr. and J. Lawrence Irving; Brute Krulak, and John and Sally Thornton.
The moment was relaxed and casual, the ambassador having been promised that the luncheon was merely for pleasure and that there would be no speeches. She arrived early to tour the museum's current exhibit, "Dr. Seuss: From Then to Now," and had the pleasure later of finding herself seated next to Seuss himself, Ted Geisel, who presented her with a copy of his latest book, "You're Only Old Once!" On the inside cover, Geisel wrote, "To Clare Boothe Luce, who is much too young to be reading this book," a sentiment much appreciated by the sprightly Luce.
When Lee Cox noticed that this pair had been seated together, she turned to a companion and asked, "Isn't it fun that we have two legends seated next to one another? You can tell San Diego is growing up when you can attend a luncheon and find Clare Boothe Luce lunching with Dr. Seuss."
Gordon Luce, who made the day's only speech (a 30-second address in which he announced that no speeches would be made), teased the ambassador, who was his house guest: "I know Clare isn't a living legend because I saw her this morning with her hair curlers on." She led the laughter that followed.
Present to share in the luncheon of potage St. Germaine and tropical chicken salad were Ed and Barbara Luce, Carma Luce, Audrey Geisel, Dagmar Brezzo (museum director Steven Brezzo was in Washington on museum business), George and Alison Gildred, Bennett and Helen Wright, Ed and Helene Muzzy, Louis and Jane Metzger, Larry Cox, Frank and Jane Rice, Barbara Walbridge, Bill and Mim McKenzie, and Dan and Yvonne Larsen.
Some new names pushed their way into the city's society vocabulary over the weekend.
Not the names of people, but of streets, downtown streets that have existed for a century or more but have not been fashionable for decades, if ever. Streets like Island Avenue and Martin Luther King Way (until recently called Market Street), famous for their warehouses but not for their social pedigrees.
But a Sunday party filled these once-dowdy thoroughfares with a classy crowd that seemed delighted by the chance to pioneer the return to grace of these historic byways.
The crowd, more than 200 strong, dolled itself up in its Victorian best for "The Grand Celebration," a party that both benefited St. Paul's Manor and Health Care Center and rejoiced at the opening of the new (and very old) Horton Grand Hotel, which occupies the Island Avenue frontage between 3rd and 4th avenues.
The party marked the 100th birthday of the hotel. Although it is a restoration of two vintage hotels originally situated closer to Broadway, it was justified in lighting the candles for its centennial, and the celebration progressed in style.
The high jinks started with a late-afternoon parade that was as unusual as the institution it honored. A "stationary" parade composed of horse-drawn carriages, classic cars, clowns and a calliope, it parked on 3rd Avenue and allowed spectators to pass by it, rather than the other way around. Later, however, the parade did circle the block and pull up to the hotel's front door, where guests waved and cheered and Flanagan's International Band played ragtime.
Hotelier Dan Pearson, accompanied by his wife, Gaslamp Quarter Theatre director Kit Goldman, served as the parade's grand marshal. Just behind their carriage followed a second bearing Anne and Michael Ibs Gonzalez; Anne is president of LUV (Love Uniting Volunteers), the St. Paul's Manor auxiliary that sponsored the benefit.