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Brazil RPCV Mrs. Richard L. Strub reigns as Mystic Queen
Brazil RPCV Mrs. Richard L. Strub reigns as Mystic Queen
Mystic on home ground
Club reminds guests that New Orleans was a party town even before the Louisiana Purchase
Sunday March 02, 2003
For its 2003 ball, held Saturday at the Hilton Hotel, the Mystic Club stayed close to home, with "La Louisiane" as the evening's theme. Re-created at the Mystic ball was an extravagant party given in New Orleans in 1803 at the plantation house of Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville, not far from today's Elysian Fields Avenue.
Reigning as her majesty, the Mystic queen, and portraying Citoyenne Marie-Anne Peborde Laussat, the hostess of the lavish party, was Mrs. Richard L. Strub.
Ladies-in-waiting to her majesty were Mrs. M. Walker Baus, portraying Citoyenne Désirèe Lapenne; Mrs. Gary Hyder Brewster, as Citoyenne Delphine Le Carpentier; Mrs. Daryl G. Byrd, as Citoyenne Anne Gachot; Mrs. William H. Hines, as Citoyenne Thérèse Grandchaud; Mrs. Ruary C. O'Connell, as Citoyenne Eugenie Capmartin; and Mrs. O. Miles Pollard Jr., as Citoyenne Victoire Gachot.
Mrs. Strub, the former Miss Ann Allison Cox, a native of Columbus, Ga., graduated from Newcomb College and Tulane University graduate school, where she studied theater. She has taught locally in public and private schools, was a faculty member in the University of New Orleans Drama and Communications Department and has performed in productions at Tulane Center Stage, Le Petit Theatre and the Contemporary Arts Center.
Earlier, she spent two years with the Peace Corps in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She is a former board member of the Junior League of New Orleans, the Preservation Resource Center, Maison Hospitaliere, City Park, Newcomb College Alumnae, Friends of Longue Vue and the advisory board of WYES-Channel 12. Currently she serves on the advisory council for the New Orleans Museum of Art and is a member of the Newcomb Women's Art League. Mrs. Strub has been co-chairwoman of benefits for the Arts Council of New Orleans and the Contemporary Arts Center and is a member of Trinity Episcopal Church, where she volunteers weekly.
Eight years ago, she returned to school to study painting. She has donated her art work to charities benefiting WYES, Children's Hospital, Strive Inc., Ochsner Hospital, Art in Bloom, the Junior League of New Orleans, Preservation Resource Center, Metairie Park Country Day School, the Memphis College of Art and the Columbus (Ga.) Women's Hospital.
"Tonight there are no Lords and Ladies at the Mystic Club, because the French Republic prefers to call us all Citoyen and Citoyenne," guests at the Mystic ball were told. "It is Dec. 15, 1803 -- or as the Republic prefers to say, 23 Frimaire, year XII. We are the guests of Citoyen Pierre Clément Laussat and his wife, Citoyenne Marie-Anne Peborde Laussat."
Citoyen Laussat had come to New Orleans from Paris as colonial prefect and commissioner assigned to take back Louisiana from Spain for French First Consul Napoléon Bonaparte (who was not emperor until 1804). This exchange took place on Nov. 30, 1803. Laussat did not know it when he arrived, but he would later have to give Louisiana to the United States, on Dec. 20, 1803, as the Louisiana Purchase.
Even in 1803, New Orleans had the reputation of being a party town. Throughout December of that momentous year, outgoing Spanish and French officials tried to outdo one another with the lavish balls they gave.
On Dec. 8, the Marqués de Casa Calvo -- a former Spanish governor of Louisiana and one of Spain's commissioners who, along with Governor Manuel de Salcedo, transferred Louisiana to France -- gave a sumptuous all-night affair in honor of Citoyen and Citoyenne Laussat. The party re-created at the Mystic ball was the Laussats' return gesture in honor of Casa Calvo and his "noble and brilliant welcoming celebration."
The Laussats' gathering lasted 12 hours -- from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The reception rooms of the Marigny mansion were ablaze with hundreds of candles in order to show off the gorgeously dressed ladies. Gambling tables were everywhere. While hundreds more stood, 230 people were seated for dinner. Buffet tables groaned with food -- there were 24 different types of gumbo alone -- and dessert tables were paved with Bavarian pastries, along with tea, coffee and chocolate.
Music filled the air, as guests danced boleros, gavottes, popular English dances, country dances and gallopades. To satisfy French and American sensibilities, both French and English quadrilles were alternately played. Champagne toasts were drunk to France and Napoléon, Spain and King Carlos IV and the United States and President Thomas Jefferson.
Five days after the ball, Louisiana and New Orleans became American.
"For Americans, the events of December 1803 were joyous. For the French and Spanish, a world they had known was about to end forever. For everyone, a new and what would prove to be an exciting world was emerging," guests at the Mystic ball were reminded as they were invited to honor these events of nearly 200 years ago, and raise their champagne glasses in a toast to the Louisiana Purchase.
A Mystic Club tradition is the presentation of several young women to their majesties. This year they were Misses Holly Frances Aron, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Peter A. Aron; Whitney Reagan Boyce, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Thibaut Boyce; Jennifer Sevier Favrot, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Blackburn Favrot Jr.; Margaret Wheeler Johnson, daughter of Dr. Donald Hubbard Johnson Jr. and Mrs. Susan Wheeler Johnson; Elizabeth Lea Phillips, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Pope Phillips Jr.; and Cecile Honoré Villere, daughter and stepdaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Pierre G. Villere and stepdaughter and daughter of Dr. and Mrs. John Canada Bowen.
When this story was prepared, here was the front page of PCOL magazine:
This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?
Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."
In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.
Read the stories and leave your comments.