Emmy Lou Grady patted the pewter goblet hanging from her belt.
"In those days, people went to a party prepared, " she said.
These days, people let their hosts do the preparing--no news to Grady, who headed the decorations committee for the Orange County Guild of the American Paralysis Assn.'s "Medieval Yuletide Feast."
The Friday night benefit, the guild's first fund-raiser, drew 186 guests at $50 per person to St. Catherine's Parish Hall in Laguna Beach.
Grady, in a shimmering black-and-red taffeta gown--which she rented, along with many of the other costumes worn by committee members, from the Moulton Playhouse in Laguna Beach--said she took her inspiration for the gala from a medieval bash she attended two years ago.
To dress up the parish gym, Grady, event chairwoman Lynne Chronert and her committee hung multicolored banners from the vaulted ceiling, brought in a small grove of fresh pine trees, unfurled green floor covering and tablecloths, and placed handmade ball masks ("the sunglasses of the Middle Ages," Grady said) in the leafy centerpieces.
During cocktail hour, a harpist played yuletime standards; when the trumpets sounded at 8 p.m., guests settled in for a feast of cabbage salad, pot roast, leg of fowl, pease pottage and figgy pudding. Fullerton College students served the dinner and sang madrigals.
The guild was founded one year ago by Jackie O'Hara, whose son, Michael, suffered a spinal cord injury in an auto accident in 1981.
O'Hara said that for a few years after her son was injured, she "really thought that he would be (a quadriplegic) for the rest of his life. Now, I don't think that. Researchers are so close to finding a cure. They're successfully regenerating nerves now, so it's just a matter of time until they can reverse these devastating kinds of injuries."
Net proceeds from the evening, an estimated $14,000, will go to the national association coffers to fund research for cures for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury, head injury or stroke.