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Hello, dahlings! Gabby’s social
calendar spanned the gamut from
blue jeans to black tie this month,
with fun in full bloom.

 

 

 

Booze in the Night

“We’re arguing about who’s going to pay for the cab going home,” joked William S. (Bill) Lee of Rehoboth Beach, early on at the seventh annual Bartender’s Ball at The Baycenter in Ruddertowne. Among Bill’s entourage in Dewey Beach: his son Brud Lee and Brud’s friends, Wayne Brzoska, who works for Coors Standard, and Dan Boysen, a Chicagoan who’s helping Brud develop a business-related website on liquor distribution. One way or another, booze occupied most people’s minds.

Take the self-described Three Amigos—Tom Murphy of Wheaton, Maryland; Bob Sobun of Fairfax, Virginia; and Joe Kane of Dewey—all standin’ tall in black felt hats from Guinness Stout. “We’re in God’s country,” Tom told Gabby. The second-floor martini bar offered a choice of seven (count ’em, seven) different libations. According to bartender Tom Clayton, apple and ultimate chocolate were the faves. (The latter was “stepped up a notch,” in Tom’s words, with a fringe of grated white chocolate along the rim. Peel me off the ceiling.) Then we caught Dewey kingpin Alex Pires sipping P.I.N.K vodka, we asked if it were true that it’s an aphrodisiac? “I wouldn’t know about that. Here, have some,” Alex prompted.

Remember, we said booze was on most people’s minds. Betsy and Ray Rice of Dewey Beach, who are growing a sand garden, provided a quick lesson on beach horticulture. Betsy praised the virtues of Vitex, “which looks like purple lilac, blooms all summer and survives with salt spray.” Since it was too late at night to hit Lowe’s for seeds and a trellis, the talk switched to Diane Cooley’s metabolism-boosting diet. “I’m not losing any weight, but I really like it,” reported Diane, Alex Pires’ better half. “I’ve given up coffee for specialized green tea that I get in Washington.”

Another social cluster: Joe Maggio of Rehoboth Beach, fresh from a month in Key West, with Jenn Barrows and Mark Betchkal of Yes Marketing LLC. “This is my friend Gabby,” Joe said, by way of introduction. “Really?” Jenn gasped. “I thought you were a gay man.”

 

Awake and Sing

Kay Wood Bailey, Delaware Press Association’s award-winning communicator, dropped in on Jerry “Crabmeat” Thompson’s folk-music moment at the Carvel State Office Building with her husband, sculptor Richard Bailey. “Richard is on a butterfly tangent,” Kay said, showing us a photo of Richard’s recent work, “Disc Fish,” a splendid creation made of Spanish marble. “Crab” (as his friends call him) is a triple threat writer-singer-guitarist who kept things humming with numbers from his new CD “The Birthday Trampoline,” such as “Two Chickens (Fly Toward the Light)” and the destined-to-be immortal “Poodles From Hell.” Crab’s chum Alan Wasserman, a classical pianist who’ll perform at Carnegie Hall on June 2, traveled to Wilmington as supporter-in-residence. James McGiffin was Crab’s grinning bass accompanist.

Because Crab’s concert was in connection with his Delaware Division of the Arts Fellowship for Emerging Artists, he cited another DDOA winner in the audience, Roz Unruh, a masters fellow in literature. The previous week, the peripatetic Roz partied at the Ballou Room in Kid Shelleen’s for Delaware Literary Connection’s 10th anniversary blow-out. Lucia Blackwell, the DLC’s founder, who now edits copy at the News Journal and got a DDOA grant some years back, was a welcome presence. So was Billie Travalini, the DLC director and the DDOA’s Established Fiction Fellow. Do so many award-winners under the same roof make you feel artistically challenged? Grab a guitar. Start that novel…

 

CLIMATE CHANGE

Has Delaware Theatre Company considered changing the name of the Barefoot Ball to the Blue Jeans Ball? The DTC’s don’t-miss dress-down gala is now held on the chilly cusp of spring, so denim, not beach garb, is de rigeur.

There was Carla Markell, who chaired DTC’s Wine Feast & Auction a few weeks before, in DKNY jeans she’d snapped up for $10 at the Tower Hill Clothesline Fair. Add red-polished toenails in leopard-print sandals. Carla couldn’t have looked snazzier. About 900 party-hearties transformed the Wilmington Room at Chase Center on the Riverfront into what resembled the Great White Way on New Year’s Eve. (Translation: Tout le monde was there.)

Tawny blonde Angela Costello served Isbre (a Norwegian glacier spring water bound to give Evian a run for the money), while Home Grown Café dished out delectable crab fondue at its kiosk. Nancy Lynch, chair of the education committee for DTC, scarfed down a hard-roll sandwich. “I’m starved!” she told Gabby and late arrivals Lyn Doto and Bill Montgomery, fresh from the art show of their painterly muse Edward L. Loper, Sr., at the University of Delaware. “This is a good party, but there aren’t any dogs here,” quipped Patrick Carroll, director of development for the Delaware Humane Association.

Maybe not, but the SEX sign at the Wilmington Jaycees table made up for the lapse, buzz-wise. “We’ve welcomed both since l984” appeared under SEX in small print. Gawkers were undeterred. “One girl wanted to buy it,” said Jill Henebry, the Jaycees’ secretary who displayed the sign. “But most people just come up and want to know what it’s about. Curiosity.” Just like the real thing when the mood is right.

 

E.R.

For anyone who partied too hearty at the Barefoot Ball, 400 nurses, doctors and backers of the Junior Board of Christiana Care were next door at their own black-tie affair. But the highlight of the 10th annual Medicine Ball, held the same night at Chase Center, was the chance to see their colleagues in formal wear instead of hospital scrubs. Nurses occupied 27 tables, with nursing scholarships and programs as the night’s focus. About $140,000 was the anticipated goal. Event chair Harriet Porter said, “There aren’t many people out there who can’t say, ‘A nurse hasn’t touched my life in some way.’ They’re the ultimate caregivers.” Added Denise Schwartz, president of the Junior Board, “It’s all about nurses tonight.”

Which is how we met Sandy Steggell, JoEllen Workman, Lisa Popiel, Jennifer Velasco and Susan Long (all registered nurses from The Visiting Nurses Group) and their director, Pat Lynch, so elegant in a chocolate-colored pantsuit. Natalie Dyke, director of special gifts at Christiana Hospital, introduced us to community health outreach manager Nora C. Katurakes, trauma nurses Donna Donahue and Donna Mower-Wade, and Linda Laskowski Jones, vice-president for emergency, trauma and aeromedical services. Folks, stay healthy. If you can’t, save this list. Or as Christiana Care Health System CEO Robert Laskowski put it, “We like to party. We celebrate health. We celebrate life at Christiana Care.”

 

ALTER EGOS

“Do your best Elvis Presley,” Governor Ruth Ann Minner told master of ceremonies Mario Rocco at the sixth annual Sussex County Police Officer and Firefighter Appreciation Dinner. So Rocco, that talented jack-of-all-trades from Magnolia, obliged our chief executive with a sonic serenade of  “Stuck On You.” The rock ’n’ roll homage followed an at-table game called Pass the Salt Shaker (a cross between spin-the-bottle and musical chairs), a hula-hoop contest and a pop-gun foray called Air Bazooka, as well as the ongoing Guess-this-TV-Show’s-Musical-Theme-for-Free-Drinks” as part of the night’s agenda. Since the appreciation bash always has an off-kilter vibe, everything conformed to the norm.

State Representative Pete Schwartzkopf, Secretary of Public Safety Dave Mitchell and State Treasurer Jack Markell were among the celebrity servers at the Baycenter ballroom in Dewey Beach’s Ruddertowne. With so many pols pitching in, the state of the state surfaced as Topic A. “We’re watching the bottom line,” Markell told Gabby, citing a revenue decline from the real estate transfer tax. Meanwhile, the slots start-up in Chester, Pennsylvania, could spell competition for local casinos.

The early-bird presidential race spurred banter with guest speaker Minner. Will Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Barack Obama and John Edwards be barreling through the state? “You’re forgetting our favorite son,” Minner replied tactfully. Oops. “But where do you think Joe Biden’s going with this? What does he want?” we persevered. “Senator Biden wants to be president,” she said.

Mentioning Oval Office traffic, the governor had just received the new hardcover by John  Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry, “This Moment on Earth: Today’s New Environmentalist Leaders and Their Vision for The Future,” inscribed to her by former candidate Kerry. The guv gets lots of books and sweatshirts in her job, she said, some of which she shares with her grandchildren. With scads of Sussex County Hero souvenir mugs at the dinner, she took an extra for her grandson, who’s a policeman… Ta-ta, ’til next time. 

D

 

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