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Women's Club goes back to Dickens' time

December 19, 2010|By DAVE MCMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • British actress Anne Flosnik reads from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" during Sunday's Victorian Christmas Tea at The Women's Club in Hagerstown.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — For a moment Sunday, a small corner of Hagerstown was moved to another time, when flaming Christmas pudding, some tea and a Christmas tale about ghosts were standard offerings.


It happened at The Women’s Club, which was an appropriate backdrop for a tribute to English author Charles Dickens and his classic story “A Christmas Carol,” published in 1843.


The home at 31 S. Prospect St. with its high ceilings and rooms resembling Victorian parlors from Dickens’ days blended with hosts serving a welcoming glass of sherry and treats like homemade scones.


The 20 or so guests learned what it was like to celebrate Christmas, English-style, including pulling on a Christmas cracker — a cardboard tube wrapped in decorative paper. When it is pulled, the cracker makes a popping sound, dumping out treats.


At Sunday’s Victorian Christmas Tea with Charles Dickens, guests were instructed to sit in a way in which they were all linked as they held onto their Christmas crackers.

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The guests were then instructed to pull.


The crackers popped, unveiling prizes like a hat, a mustache comb and a joke written on a scrap of paper.


Besides the sweets, the guests dined on celery stuffed with crab meat and other treats using chicken tarragon, cream cheese, olives, cucumbers and capers.


“And of course we’ll be drinking tea,” said Judy Larkin, who helped organize the event.


“(That’s) the staple of it all,” added Anne Flosnik, a British actress who read excerpts from “A Christmas Carol.”


Larkin said one of the reasons the celebration was held was to introduce people to English cuisine popular during Dickens’ time.


That included desserts that have “way more sugar” than people in the U.S. are used to, said Larkin, who labored over tables full of treats like jam tarts and mince pies in a kitchen area of the home.


While people gathered to learn about English tradition, Women’s Club member Susan Dean talked about other parts of the historic home, like upstairs rooms that are reserved for single women who need a safe place to live.


The rooms offer low rates for the women, who are not allowed to have husbands, boyfriends or children with them, Dean said.


“Most people don’t know that,” Dean said of the program.

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