On Sunday, Feb. 6, more than 30 undergraduates and several Mills alumnae attended the first Mills Sophomore and Junior Tea in Orchard Meadow’s living room.
This tea, hosted by the Alumnae Student Relations Committee of the Alumnae Association of Mills College, was intended to start a new rite of passage for Mills sophomores and juniors.
Mills alumnae were present to facilitate the tea. Harriet Fong Chan, class of ‘98, and Laura Compton, class of ‘93, co-chairs of the ASR, served enough hot Earl Gray to rival Alice’s Tea party. Phyllis Bader, class of ‘35, was on hand to pour tea.
The tables were decorated with silver platters filled to the brim with sumptuous finger sandwiches, fine pastries with swirling pink icing, chocolates, and cookies laid against a backdrop of white linen.
The afternoon sun shined through the many glass windows of the Orchard Meadow living room creating warmth even though the fireplaces were not lit. Three of founder Susan Mills’ precious teapots were tastefully displayed on a table for public viewing.
Mills alumna Jane Cudlip-King, class of ‘42 and director of public relations for Palo Alto Area Mills College Club, looked out at the many faces seated in cushy chairs and told the attendees about past teas from her time at Mills.
“You know in my day no one ever sat down. We mostly were moving around the room, talking to everyone, wearing heels, hats, and dresses.” Her snow-white hair framed her face and she wore a forest green skirt suit. “Some nights we would have tea in the president’s home and the entire faculty was expected to attend and they would line up to shake the hand of every student there. We would look our best.”
Catherine McGilvray, class of ‘56 and advisor to the Palo Alto Mills College Club, also shared her memories of her days at Mills. “I recall junior- senior Paint Night and we’d paint the bridges our class colors,” she said.
Since the 1920s, Mills students have been making memories by participating in rites of passage such as the Cap Hunt and the Pushball Game. The sophomores of the ‘40s had a “Ghost Walk.”
Junior Gloria Espinosa, co-president of ASMC, said she appreciated meeting past students. “I think this is a great community builder,” she said. “It’s nice to meet the alumnae.”
Mills tea socials are not only an opportunity to connect with alumnae, they serve as a forum to make announcements about life events such as engagements, to introduce friends, and to express ideas.
As the sun began to go down, students continued to chat with alumnae, gathering tidbits about yesteryear and building community at Mills.