Introduction of the debs

December 05, 1993|By SYLVIA BADGER

Baltimore society was formally presented with its newest members on the Friday evening after Thanksgiving. Debutantes dressed in elegant, mostly all-white gowns and elbow-length gloves participated in a bit of olden-day splendor during the celebration of one of Baltimore's oldest traditions, the Bachelors Cotillon.

The Cotillon was held in the ballroom of the Stouffer Inner Harbor Hotel, which was transformed into a lovely garden decorated with the bouquets sent to the debs, as well as arrangements by the masterful floral designer Bob Zimmerman. The Lester Lanin Orchestra played traditional waltzes and fox trots, while the young ladies and their partners, dressed in white ties and tails, danced the evening away.

The history of this ball is a long one. Founded in the 1790s, it became a permanent Monday evening social event in 1871, which would make it the third oldest such social institution in the country behind Charleston's Saint Cecilia and the Philadelphia Assembly. In the early 1960s the Monday German, as it was once called, changed to a Friday evening to accommodate debutantes in distant schools.

This year's debutante list from the Blue Book named the following young ladies to be introduced to Baltimore society: Mary Eugenia Arnot, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel du B. Arnot Jr.; Alice Carter Arnot, daughter of Oden Bowie Arnot and Rhea I. Arnot; Polly Potter Bonsal, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank zTC Adair Bonsal Jr.; Katie McPherson Browne from Charlotte, N.C., daughter of Mrs. George W. Browne and the late Mr. Browne; Whitney Young Fenwick, daughter of Ann Young Fenwick and John A. B. Fenwick; Marjorie Ann Fink, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Fink; Katherine Lawder Gamble, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. James Lawder Gamble III; Rosemary Anne Keyser, daughter of Rosemary Keyser Tydings and the late Peter Keyser; Helen Flanagan Pitts, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clinton Pitts Jr.; Elisabeth Alice Saint-Amand from New York, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Nathan E. Saint-Amand; Catherine Grace Schroeder, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank C. Schroeder III; Avery Barton Strachan from Wilmington, Del., daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. Stephen Strachan; Elizabeth Gabriel Tyler, daughter of Katherine Tyler and Alfred Tyler II; Elizabeth Wheeler from Ardmore, Pa., daughter of Dr. and Mrs. James W. Wheeler; and Laura Jenkins Yaggy, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Esher Yaggy.

I understand there has been one break with tradition since I attended many moons ago. In those days, the Cotillon was held in the old Lyric Theatre, where the seats were removed to create a ballroom floor. Mothers and grandmothers of the debs sat in the boxes at the Lyric, and all the other ladies, if they wanted to sit down, sat on large plumped pillows, in front of and on the stage, where they could watch the dancing.

I'm told women no longer sit on pillows and that a few tables have been added for seating. So things do change and will continue to do so, but not too much, I hope!

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Certainly you've heard of giving someone the shirt off your back, but the picture off your wall? That's just what Ramsey Prince, the manager of the Comfort Country Harborplace store, did when actor-comedian Robin Williams admired a painting in the store ,, window, which Prince had painted. Williams asked to buy it, but Prince would not hear of it, so instead, Williams walked out of the shop with his painting and Birkenstock sandals and Eddo and Northlake hiking boots.

Other celebs who've popped in recently include actress Linda Hamilton and her twin sister; Richard Dreyfuss, who stopped by to say hi to his old friend, Laura Waltz, the store's assistant manager. And imagine this: former Colts great Artie Donovan was spotted buying a two-strap suede sandal, while his wife, Dottie, opted for a pair of Dansko clogs.

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It's that time of year again. On Jan. 2, I will run a column listing winter and spring social events. If you would like your event included, please send the information, including a phone number for inquiries, to my attention, P.O. Box 1795, Baltimore, Md. 21278, or you may fax your information to me at (410)783-2519.

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