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Ventura county members of the California Children's Home society wrote another colorful page in the long history of Rancho Camulos yesterday, as they made it the scene of a gala fiesta tea.
The rooms of the rambling, 120-year-old ranch house and the rose-filled gardens surrounding it were thronged all afternoon. Members of the society, dressed in Spanish and Latin American costumes, were on hand to make sure visitors saw the points of interest in the rancho, which Helen Hunt Jackson made the setting ground for her novel, "Ramona."
Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Burger opened their home, purchased from the Del Valle family 27 years ago, for the society's traditional spring event. Upwards of 600 guests signed the register presided over by Mrs. Ben Bartels.
In addition, there were many small fry, whose special spots of interest were a 100-year-old black walnut with branches spread out for many feet like the spokes of a wheel, and a stagecoach which has found its present home at the rancho after many years' service in the northern California mountains.
Guests were presented with mimeographed guides to the ranch and its history, supplying the background of the rooms and articles they viewed. On the wide porch by the entrance and again along the screened porches into which most of the rooms open, they admired hand-wrought iron garlands and painted roses made by an old German blacksmith employed on the ranch.
In the library, where Helen Hunt Jackson's character, Felipe, lay ill on a rawhide cot similar to one on view elsewhere on the rancho, visitors noted a tepee style fireplace, made of copper, towering in a room lined with bookshelves to its high ceiling. In "Ramona's room," guests could see the original iron bars at the window which once kept the historic Ramona from meeting her Alessandro. If they looked ceilingward, they saw beams decorated with a stylized floral design.
The tea held special significance for Mrs. Lena Jones of Camarillo, who recalled visiting Rancho Camulos when the Del Valle family still occupied it and had seen it only once since. She was pleased to find the huge old walnut still thriving and to see the way in which the present owners have preserved and enhanced the ranch's historical values.
Del Valle Friends
Several other guests were also familiar with the ranch and the Del Valles, including Mrs. E.C. Canet, Mrs. L.P. Garnier, Mrs. Armando Pezzi, Mrs. Myron Gabbert and Mrs. Harold Burket.
History was all around visitors, too, as they climbed the stairs to the upper floor of the winery, built by the Indians in the rancho's early days. There they saw the equipment in use when the ranch supplied California's missions with wines and olive oil, as well as dolls, guns, clothes and many other items from the Indians of the area and the original owners of the ranch. [Not exactly. Indians were the original inhabitants, but the Del Valles built the winery
in 1867, well after the mission period. They did employ some Native American ranch hands. — Ed.]
The tiny chapel, complete with a small, antique organ, was also one of the spots which were musts on every guest's itinerary. Brilliant sunshine marked the day chosen by the society for the event and made the punch table, presided over by Mrs. Sydney L. Graham and Mrs. Calvin Graham, as popular as the tea table. Placed beneath a vast ornamental iron chandelier, the tea table was covered with a handsome old red and white embroidered cloth.
Asked to pour were: Mrs. Louis W. Achenbach, Mrs. Edwin L. Gardner II, Mrs. E. Domingo Hardison, Mrs. Robert Sheridan, Mrs. Edwin Carty, Mrs. Francis Prince, Mrs. Frank Harpold and Miss Marian Nicholson.
Mrs. Josephine Darling was the general chairman for the tea, which society members are sure to mark down in their annals as one of the most successful in their long series of special benefit affairs.
Chick Peters was on hand as a wandering Spanish troubadour during the party.
"All Aboard" was the word when the younger generation spotted this sturdy old stagecoach at Rancho Camulos, Piru, yesterday.
On the passenger list for this trip — if there were a team of horses ready to make it — are Jan Harmonson, Dale Van Metre, Nicole and Michele McShurley,
Donna Van Metre and Christine Hall.
Looking out toward the central garden, fragrant with blooming roses, are two of the costumed hostesses at yesterday's Children's Home society tea in Rancho Camulos.
That's Mrs. P.F. Colanchick, left, and Mrs. W.H. Fear, right, with Miss Marian Nicholson, a director for the statewide Home society and honored guest yesterday.
They are standing before a doorway outlined ith wrought iron garlands.