Saturday, November 5, 2011

Around Town: Hanging out with Chesty

On our last day at the Marines’ Memorial Club in San Francisco, I glanced at the posted “Today’s Events” sheet inside of the elevator and was shocked to see a reference to a reception for the “Flintridge Assistance League.”

“Is there another town named ‘Flintridge’ in Northern California?” I said, to no one in particular.

Days later, I finally understood the reference. There is only one Flintridge in California. There is only one Assistance League of Flintridge, right here in La Cañada Flintridge. Our Assistance League of Flintridge is a nonprofit service organization of volunteers, formed in 1951 as a chapter of National Assistance League. Our local chapter runs seven philanthropies in La Cañada Flintridge, ranging from summer school to the Bargain Box thrift shop.

But what was our own “ALF” doing in San Francisco, at my favorite venue, the Marines’ Memorial Club at 609 Sutter, close to Union Square?

The answer was simple: The Hilton was full.

There are 26,000 volunteer members of the Assistance League and their National Conference had convened at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, right around the block from the Marines’ Club.

Despite the circumstances, the Marines’ Memorial Club should never play second fiddle. The Club was created as a living memorial to the U.S. Marines who served in the Pacific during World War II. Since 1946, the Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel, a classic 1920s Beaux-Arts hotel, has been open to service members, veterans and their guests, as well as the general public, when available.

The staff is awesome. The (free) happy hour includes light hors d’oeuvres. The view of the city is stunning. There’s a swell library upstairs and a gym downstairs. The historic theater was recently renovated. The Leatherneck Steakhouse offers the best meals in San Francisco, and there's a statue of Chesty, the bulldog mascot, in the lobby.

The Club offers sophisticated elegance steps away from the theater district and Union Square.

On our trip to the Marines’ Memorial Club, I took all of my loot from Missoni for Target, but I was careful not to wear all the pieces at once, due to a piece entitled, “How not to wear your Missoni for Target.” (“When mixing Missoni for Target patterns with other patterns, do not use the same design throughout your entire outfit ....”)

As I strutted down Sutter, I noticed the jealous gazes of tourists and locals alike as they recognized my tasteful yet understated use of my Missoni for Target garb.

That, or my slip was showing.

It was all good.

Not that I’m biased or anything, but I hope the Assistance League of Flintridge ladies had a great time visiting my favorite club.


Letter to the editor (10/5/2011)

I often read Anita Brenner’s Around Town column in the Valley Sun on Thursdays and was surprised at the coincidence this morning that she was talking about the wonderful Marines’ Memorial Club in San Francisco where I had just been. Sorry we ALFies shocked her, but we had arranged a group dinner in the Leatherneck Steakhouse as a special outing for the 23 of us who represented our Flintridge chapter at the national Assistance League conference last week.

Far from playing second fiddle, the Marines’ Memorial Club was a much-anticipated highlight of our trip. The displays in the lobby about famous Marines and campaigns as well as exhibits in the upstairs library (which they kept open late especially for us) were fascinating. The staff was friendly, the views were gorgeous, and the food was outstanding.

Just to set the record straight, as you might imagine, the efficient members of the Assistance League made their reservations well in advance and stayed at the Hilton. By the way, as a special project this year, the 960 conference attendees contributed more than 1,200 books to the San Francisco Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs, gratefully received by the director of their facility in the Tenderloin district, just a few blocks away.

Gale Musker


Assistance League of Flintridge

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