Valley Line

Joanie Bartoli-Porto, left La Canada Thursday Club Centennial Garden chairperson, celebrates the beginning of the club's 100th birthday with club president Gale Caswell. (Photo by Jane Napier Neely / October 20, 2012)

Autumn came to La Cañada Flintridge on Oct. 11. The wind howled, the rain hammered the pavement and hail came in sheets, giving the landscape the brief appearance of being covered in snow.

However, just four days later it was summer again, with the weather people reporting triple-digit temperatures. How could this be? The surprises of living in Southern California! I guess we must love it, because we are still here.

Now on to the chitter-chatter of our folks who are out and about doing this, that and the other thing.

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The La Cañada Thursday Club is celebrating its 100th birthday this year, and its leaders are making certain that the many celebrations they are planning will be spectacular. I am a member of this venerable club and look forward to seeing how the year unfolds.

The oldest philanthropic organization in town, the Thursday Club has a storied history. It was founded by Elizabeth Knight in 1912 when she sent invitations to her friends, asking them to meet at her home. One of the club's earliest philanthropic endeavors was to roll bandages to be used by hospitals serving World War I soldiers.

The Spanish Revival-style clubhouse, situated at its exclusive Woodleigh Lane address, was designed by famed Los Angeles architects Henry Carlton Newton and Robert Dennis Murray.

Members and guests recently gathered at the clubhouse's newly redesigned patio and fountain for a dinner that kicked off the club's new year and initiated its centennial celebration.

Gale Caswell, president, welcomed the nearly 100 guests as she invited them to have a fun evening.

Barbara Self, Sheri Morton, Lorie MacKenzie, Joani Bartoli-Porto, Kim Bartine, Patti Wikersham, Abha Goel, Barbara Robison, Joanne Gilson, Gracella Gibbs, Becky Kankey, Dotty Greenawalt and Denise Greenawalt helped Caswell make this a successful event.

It was a balmy night as guests sipped cool beverages, caught up on neighbor news and even talked about what they might wear to the club's black-tie Centennial Christmas Gala on Dec. 1 in the clubhouse. This will be the really big birthday party that so many people are looking forward to.

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Just one of the things I love about this town is that I can temporarily lose track of someone for quite some time and then they suddenly reappear in my life. Such was the case recently when Julia Gaskill popped back up on my radar.

Julia and her husband, Andy, have lived in town for about 27 years. They raised their two kids here: Alan, a 2000 Prep grad; and daughter, Lauren, a 2003 Westridge grad who is attending UC Irvine.

Andy, a talented artist, worked for many years as an animator for Disney with movie credits such as “Tron,” “The Rescuers, “The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King,” just to name a few. He went on to work with Sony Image Works and is now a story artist with DreamWorks.

Julia, who is not known for letting any moss grow under her feet, is a classically trained pianist. For years she taught piano and was an accompanist.

Within the past two years she was named executive director of the Young Musicians Foundation. The foundation supports children and youth ages 8 to 25 through music education, scholarships, pre-professional musical training and performance opportunities. It also provides classical music experiences to elementary and high school students in the Greater Los Angeles area.

The foundation's orchestra just opened its season this past week. Its next scheduled performance will be a free concert at the Bing Theater at Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Nov. 11.

The program will bring together an eclectic collaboration of musicians, actors, dancers and stage direction for a moving and visually exciting performance of Stravinsky's “The Soldier's Tale.”

In keeping with Stravinsky's vision, the piece will be played, acted and danced.

So keep your eyes open, we will try to let you know more about it later.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada Flintridge social scene. Email her at jnvalleysun@yahoo.com.