The Viri Viginti Club of Philadelphia hosted its 98th Annual Garden Party on Sunday afternoon. It was a perfect way to end the club’s social season. The Drexelbrook Wedding and Banquet Facility in Drexelbrook, Delaware County. The lovely terraces, French doors and white columns provided a scenic venue for the event.
As club president, Louis DeVaughn and his gracious wife, Elaine Evans DeVaughn, made sure the cocktail hour was a flurry of excitement. Once again the Garden Party gave ladies, “Out & About,” an opportunity to show off an array of fabulous garden hats. Many of the ladies would have been very comfortable at the Diamond Jubilee celebration or Kentucky Derby. The array of millinery creations ranged from amazing portrait hats to the smartest fascinators. All of the ladies made beautiful fashion statements, with or without hats. The gentlemen were quite dapper as well.
The Viri Viginti Club of Philadelphia was established in 1914. It is believed to be the oldest African-American social club in the state of Pennsylvania. In 1914, 20 young friends came together to form a club and enjoy each other’s friendship, meeting on a regular basis. The gentlemen had difficulty selecting a name for the group until Mary Williams, eldest daughter of member Charles Williams, suggested the name Viri Viginiti, the Latin phrase for “20 gentlemen.”
The roster of 20 distinguished members remains intact today. President DeVaughn, who has served two terms for four years and has done a fantastic job, will turn over the gauntlet to R. Joseph Wade in September 2012. Other incoming officers are: vice president, Arthur Matthews; secretary, Robert Murphy; treasurer, Charles Wright and entertainment chair, Jimm McKee.
Other club members are: Robert Bembry, Frank Eaverly, Clarence Faulcon, Robert “Bob” Gorgas, Robert King, Charles K. Manns, Richard Martin, Arthur Matthews, Charles Mitchell, Frederick Miller, Robert Murphy Jr., Leonard Ricks, Lloyd Wallace and Andre Wilson. Club members Robert King and Rosamond Linsey, who passed within the last year, were sorely missed.
In Drexelbrook’s ballroom, guests enjoyed the exquisite sounds of Julius Brown. After a delicious lunch and dessert bar Jimm McKee introduced members. I spotted Barbara Gorgas chatting with guests as her husband, club member and terrific photographer, Bob Gorgas, took cocktail orders.
After a group picture of the membership was taken, Jimm McKee called one of the guests to the microphone. I was speechless as Judge Clyde W. Waite, Commonwealth of Pa., Court of Common Pleas, Bucks County called his beautiful friend of 46 years, Verna Hutchinson, to join him. He proceeded to sing her praises and profess his love for her. On bended knee, Judge Waite asked her to be his wife. Her answer was yes! I certainly hope to write about this incredibly romantic love story.
After the proposal, the floor was opened to dancing. The mood was just right for celebrating. Among those making good use of the stirring tunes were Patricia Perry, Gail Hawkins Bush and Charles Bush, Cynthia and Ed Muse, Everett Jones and Gloria Toxey Jones, Irma Brooks, Dr. Charles and Ruth Bridges, Lisa Hawkins, Beverly Richards, Shawn Alexandra Graham and Roger N. Graham, April and Bill Rawlings, Susan and Don Waterford, Juanita Blakley, George and Deborah Otey and Terence A. Ball.
Jimm McKee and his wife, Debbie, were also joined by their lovely daughter, Envy McKee. Jimm didn’t disappoint us with his traditional serenade. This year he offered a smooth rendition of “On Broadway” by George Benson. His accomplished back-up vocalists were Don Waterford and John Kirsey.
After many line dances, great conversation and another chance to be with friends, the afternoon came to a close. We left looking forward to next year’s garden party, planting our beautiful flowers (gifts for the guests of Louis and Elaine) and remembering what a fabulous time we had.
Have a fantastic week! I look forward to seeing you “Out & About.”