GLENDALE — It's December, 1957.
A young congressman, John F. Kennedy, quietly plots a run at the White House. A Soviet spacecraft named Sputnik sends a message that the Cold War won't soon turn to slush. Elvis Presley prepares to shuck his blue suede shoes for Army boots.
And, for the first time, some Glendale homeowners open their doors so youngsters can open their minds.
The Hoover Tour of Homes--which has raised upward of $180,000 for Hoover High School's Parent Teacher Student Assn. to pay for scholarships and other programs--has outlived local holiday traditions such as Brand Boulevard's "Tunnel of Lights," a dense display of Christmas lights over the boulevard that old-timers still admiringly recall.
Again, for one day only, the doors will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at four houses filled with Christmas trimmings, antiques, artwork, heirlooms, floral arrangements and food and drink that carry out the tour's theme for 1993: "Love and Joy Come to You."
Each year, the host families change (among previous hosts: Vincent Bugliosi, best-selling author and former prosecutor, and Gordon Jump of TV's "WKRP in Cincinnati")--but the tour's mission lives on.
Now, with state funds shrinking and classrooms bulging (Hoover's enrollment of 2,900 has nearly doubled since the tour began 36 years ago), the school's needs are critical. Things would be worse, administrators say, if the Hoover Tour of Homes weren't a tour de force for quality education.
"Words can't begin to describe what this event means to our young people," says Sarah O'Reilly, vice principal of instruction. "We wouldn't otherwise have the dollars to buy supplemental novels that our students can take home, videos that show French culture to our foreign language classes, computerized microlabs in our science classrooms or scoreboards for our sports programs."
Two houses are decorated by their co-owners--Mary O'Keefe, a boutique operator in the San Fernando Valley and elsewhere since 1975, and Sherri James, an interior designer.
And some Hoover students sell tickets, will bake cookies at the Spanish-style mansion of Teri and Gabriel Fagiani or will perform Christmas carols at Mary and Tim O'Keefe's residence.
The O'Keefes' three-story, Mediterranean house is a suggested first stop on this three-hour foray.
Noon to 12:45 p.m. (Mary and Tim O'Keefe, 1440 N. Maryland Ave.):
A Nativity scene, with figures crafted of papier-mache and chicken wire by Mary O'Keefe and her six children (all Hoover High graduates), greets visitors.
Inside, miniature musical instruments adorn the Christmas tree, and caroling students will entertain in the living room. Garlands and small white lights brighten the entryway and living room.
In the stairwell hangs a jewelry tree bearing mementos: the O'Keefe children's pins from Little League, Scouting, first Communion; Tim's U. S. Army lieutenant bars, career pins earned by Mary and her mother as nurses. Nearby is a 1923 aerial photo of the house under construction.
Downstairs, the family room offers a view and leads to the patio, where Mary has set up--naturally--a boutique.
12:45 to 1:30 p.m. (Vicky and Billy Schleifstein, 1541 N. Columbus Ave.):
Antique furnishings fill the dining room of this Southern Colonial house. They include an 18th-Century Welsh pine corner cupboard and an English coffee-and-tea set once owned by Vicky's great-grandfather. A buffet contains monogrammed plates handed down through the Schleifstein family. The chairs and bench at the table are from Ireland.
On the family room couch is a multicolored throw, a copy of a blanket made by Coogi Australia--a Melbourne-based knitwear manufacturer. (Billy Schleifstein is its chief executive officer.)
Near the pool is a white-lattice gazebo clad with garlands and a large red bow. Here, tea and cookies will be served.
1:30 to 2:15 p.m. (Teri and Gabriel Fagiani, 830 Kenneth Road):
In the late 1980s, this Spanish-style mansion was remodeled by Michael James, a local designer (whose house on nearby Idlewood Road, coincidentally, is next on the tour). The Fagianis moved in this year with antiques, family heirlooms, original artwork and tapestries.
A cathedral ceiling with original wrought-iron supports soars above the living room and a handmade tapestry from 18th-Century Belgium. In the dining room are a table, chairs and buffet--all 1930s vintage--and a framed family crest from the 1700s.
To reach the blue-and-white kitchen, just follow your nose. Fresh cookies will be baked by Hoover students, who will sell them along with homemade bread and cakes on the patio.
A sweeping, wrought-iron staircase to the second floor is decorated with garlands, family photos and artwork. In the office and bedrooms are lithographs signed by Thomas Hart Benton and other artists. The master bedroom's veranda offers a view of Glendale.
2:15 to 3 p.m. (Sherri and Michael James, 1603 Idlewood Road):