Santa Rosa had about 100 social groups for women in 1906 according to gossip columnist “Dorothy Anne,” but Mattie Oates belonged to only three: The Married Ladies’ Card Club – the first post-quake party in Santa Rosa was a get-together at Mattie’s house – the Saturday Afternoon Club, and “The Bunch.”
The Saturday Afternoon Club was the most intellectual club in town; in the excerpt below, Mattie presented a paper on early 19th century German poets. The highbrow group could also be snooty; an item from 1904 found a member denouncing Sunday newspaper comics as “a bad influence on children.”
But at least twice a year, “The Bunch” rented a lodge hall and held a dance, which was usually a highlight of Santa Rosa’s social season. Particularly wonderful in this newspaper item below is the lyric phrase of dancers spending “happy hours in the mazy whirls.” According to citations in Google Books, “mazy whirls” dates back at least to the 1840s.
“BUNCH” HAS NEAT PARTY
The dance at Germania Hall Thanksgiving evening by the popular “Bunch” crowd was one of the jolly reunions of these young people. For some time past the dances have not been frequently held, and the absence of the terpsichorean events during the past few months made the dance Thursday evening all the more pleasant. The hall was elaborately decorated. The orchestra was partly hidden beneath branches of holly, which were dotted with tiny red, white and blue electric lights. Streamers of the national colors, with purple and yellow added were effectively used across the ceiling and hall.
The dances held until morning and every one present spent happy hours in the mazy whirls. Delicious refreshments were served. The patronesses were Mesdames John P. Overton, Allen B. Lemmon, James Wyatt Oates and E. F. Woodward.– Santa Rosa Republican, November 30, 1906
…The Saturday Afternoon Club met at the residence of Mrs. Dr. Thompson yesterday afternoon, Mrs. James Edwards presiding. The large attendance testified to the extent of the interest taken by the members in the subjects discussed: Mrs. James W. Oates read an interesting paper upon Goethe and Schiller, their Friendship and Relative Importance. Mrs. John B. Davis entertained the club with a sketch in the life of Mendelssohn, while Miss Hahman and Mrs. Hall gave selected readings from the Faust legend…– “Dorothy Anne” gossip column, Press Democrat, November 18, 1906