Gunston School for girls is nestled above the Corsica River in TC Queen Anne's County. It's been there since 1911, when Mary and Samuel Middleton left Baltimore for their 300-acre summer place to found a co-educational school for their children and a few other "invited" Queen Anne's children. Gunston became exclusively a girl's school in the 1930s.
Today the acreage is smaller and the enrollment is 65 boarders and about eight day students, all of whom plan to go on to college. It's a real hands-on school where everything is orchestrated by youthful headmaster Temple Blackwood.
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending an annual holiday party given by the Blackwoods for the faculty and the school's board of directors at the headmaster's house on campus. During my years of living in that community, I'd heard about Julie Blackwood's culinary talents and I can assure you she is a divine cook.
Her finger-food buffet included two types of steamed shrimp, two differently prepared hams, divine quiche, meatballs, chicken breast, and a splendid spinach appetizer. Just preparing that menu would have taken me forever, but when I saw what she'd prepared for dessert, I was really amazed. The dining room table was laden with at least 10 different kinds of desserts. I feel like I'm gaining weight just writing about it. (It's hard to believe that the Blackwoods and their three children, Starr, Andrew and Alexander are so trim, considering their mother's talents in the kitchen. I understand she once even found the time to write a food column for the local paper!)
The invitation read black tie and tiara optional, so the chairman of the Gunston board, Robert Price, joined Blackwood and donned his black tie. I enjoyed meeting Nancy Price, a Grove Creek neighbor, who was wearing a cheerful red appliqued holiday outfit she'd found at the John's Hopkins Christmas sale.
Others enjoying the feast were Edith and Ed Grasse, she's vice chair of the board; Marguerite and Bill Thomas, she's treasurer of the board. (Bill was still glowing from his recent surprise 80th birthday party.) Board members and their spouses at the party included Barbara and Victor Bonat, Ed and Nina Curran, Mark Freestate, Sharon and Donald Braden, David and Harriet Gearhart, Louise and Ben Heilman and Jean and Neil LeCompte.
Everyone gathered in the living room, where Blackwood and Price presented the school's first Gunston armchair (the Windsor type) for a special lady, Lois Duffey, for her long-time devotion to the school.
Duffey, board member emeritus, is the owner of the horse Mr. Frisk, the 1990 winner of the Grand National in England and the first of her horses to run in that race. Watching the ceremony were her son Stoney Duffey and his wife Jigg, and Blackwood's father Terry and his wife Bette, who carried out the dress theme by wearing a crown and tiara.
Also on hand were Jimmy and Dulany Noble, she's alumni rep; Joan Merriken, headmistress of Kent School in Chestertown; Beth and Neil Mufson, headmaster of the Country School in Easton; and Karin and Richard Counts, chairman of the board of Easton's Country School.
What a delightful evening it was. The company was as good as the food -- well, almost!
It's almost time for the 7th annual Fillmore Frolic. On Jan. 6, the 191st birthday of President Millard Fillmore, the Society to Promote Respect and Recognition of Millard Fillmore, kicks up its heels at the Towson Sheraton.
From 2 to 5 p.m., the founders of the society, Rae Rosen, Jeff Amdur and Ken Sokolow will greet guests. Among the planned festivities will be a presidential look- and sound-a-like contest and a speech by recent Fulbright winner Elbert B. Smith, professor emeritus of history at the University of Maryland College Park. Admission is free. Call 655-3222 or 655-3444 for more information.