The torrential rainstorm that poured down upon the metropolis were really tears of joy from the “Queen of Soul Food,” Sylvia Woods, as her spirit reigned over her 50th anniversary party.
The sun shone just long enough for the brightest block party Harlem has seen in a very long time. Orderly lines comprised of longstanding residents mixed with the new regentrified stood side by side as breakfast, consisting of a piece of Woods’ famous smothered chicken, grits and a biscuit, were handed out to all who cared to partake.
Class act that she was, seating was arranged for those who, once they had their plate, wanted to sit down and eat. But what would a block party be without a little fun and games? An easy ring toss was set up so that everyone who tossed could get a prize (I chose the cutest little pink colander, perfect for straining spaghetti or rinsing fruit).
For the creative, white aprons were handed out, one to a customer, with nearby tables lined with coloring pens where everyone was kept busy expressing themselves. Next–yes, there is a next–decorative pieces of material were available for the choosing, while seamstresses were eagerly waiting to sew on the finishing touches. It was great to see young ladies sewing on Singer sewing machines and to know the trade still exists. All of this was made possible compliments of Target.
Throughout it all, music filled the air. The first performance featured the incomparable Lonnie Youngblood, Harlem’s hardest working showman, who wailed. He was followed by the cast of “Mama I Want to Sing: The Next Generation.” This young group of soulful, gospel singers are amazingly talented. Their next scheduled performance is Aug. 18. You simply must catch this show at the Dempsey Theater, 127 W. 127th St. For tickets, call (212) 280-1045.
The celebration was completed with a cupcake parade while the crowd was treated to red velvet cupcakes to the beat of the Brooklyn Marching Band. The Manhattan borough president then proclaimed Aug. 1 to be Sylvia Appreciation Day. I can’t wait until next year.
Aug. 11 promises to be another full day, as the 118th Street Block Association will hold its annual health fair. Vendors will be there representing New York University Dental, Harlem Hospital, Harlem United, the Sydenham Clinic, Chase Bank and Carver Bank. Screenings for eyes and blood pressure will be offered, along with food, music, fun and games for the kids and more.
The Explorers from the 28th Precinct are also volunteering their services–three cheers for the community!
You can stay in the community, too, as later that evening, Ginny’s Supper Club at the Red Rooster presents the legendary Bobbi Humphrey, the “First Lady of Flute.” Located on Lenox Avenue at 126th Street, performance times are 8 and 10:30 p.m.
Judge Debra A. James, currently acting New York County Supreme Court judge and friend of the late Bill Freeman, is seeking election to the New York State Supreme Court this November. Thus, the fundraisers have begun.
The first of what I’m sure will be many, as James is so well-liked, was held at the Wall Street aerie of David Rubin Esq. and Kay Unger. In attendance were Lana Turner, Denise Shaw Esq., Toussaint Cummings, Gail Edwards, Faye Ellman and many just too supportive to mention. These receptions are always so festive and fun, and guests have an incredibly good time–all in the name of justice.
The annual Boule Soiree and Art Show featuring exhibits from the Sharon Simmons Art Gallery, took place at B. Smith’s in Sag Harbor and brought out all of the locals. The only ones missing in action were Appellate Court Judge Cheryl Chambers and her husband, the newly elected president of the New York Bar Association, Seymour James, due to a scheduling conflict.
The Sunday afternoon event was preceded by a Saturday afternoon clambake on Haven Beach. While there weren’t any clams on the menu, there was lobster, mussels, corn on the cob, baked barbecue chicken and salad, with watermelon for dessert.
Seen having a delightful time were Jim and JoAnn Skeets, Randell and Lisa Cooper Hudgins, Antonio and Lisa Desamoure, Luther and Camille Clark, Marlene Bunny Ledford, Godfrey Murrain Esq. and his wife, Peggy, Carlton and Dr. Thelma Dye Holmes, Melvin Douglas, Ivan, Steve and Ida Roach, Ed Dudley Esq. and his wife, Joan, Mamett Spaulding and Barbara North, just to name a few.
The after-party–there is always an after-party–was held at the home of Al and BeBe Granger-Sujay. BeBe’s pottery making has gone from a hobby to a full-fledged business. She has an array of pieces, ranging from cups and bowls to vases and casserole dishes. Guests shopped and shopped while they sipped champagne, sparkling apple cider and munched on chocolates, cookies and pound cake. Yum.
Back to the Boule Soiree; almost all of the guests from the clambake returned dressed in their Sunday afternoon finery. Added to the scene were Teressa Manning, Nancy and George Jordan, Debbie and Mel Jackson, Nola Whiteman and her daughter Sheryl, who awards the annual scholarship given out in the name of her late husband, Herb.
Also dancing to the music of the Warren Daniels Band were Cloe Stentson; Karen Selsey; Renee Buford; Barbara North, Rep. Charles Rangel and Alma Rangel; Robin and Drexel Harris, vice president, associate general counsel and assistant secretary of Reliance Insurance Company; Curtis and Lynn Ruffin-Cave, along with their charming father, Chester, and Gladys Redhead; Virginia and Earl Arrington; Barry Stanley; and, of course, Sharon Simmons.
Simmons was beaming, as she very well should have been; she had an impressive array of artwork in addition to the news that her son Hank has gotten engaged–but more about that next week.
The after-party–of course there was one–was held at the beautiful Skeet estate. You haven’t been to an after-party until you’ve been to one hosted by the Skeets. Not only is their home inviting, comfy and cozy, it’s spacious enough for everyone to partake in whatever makes them comfortable. Alma Rangel made the fish cakes, Jim Skeets made the meatballs and ham and everyone in between chipped in. A special shout-out goes to Jackie Fischer, who definitely knows her way around the spacious Skeets kitchen.
Next week, it’s on to Mary Redd’s party, the opening performance of “Big Maybelle” at the Bay Street Theatre and the Greater Metropolitan Chapter of the Link’s summer affair at B. Smith’s.
Happy birthday to Doug Stokes, Eddie Green from Canaan Baptist Church, Sharon “MTA” Watts, Ms. Hope, Belinda Gillard, Louis Betts and Hoppy.
Rest in peace beloved Rodney Carroll and Bishop Norman Quick, senior pastor of Childs Memorial Temple Church of God in Christ and a founder and member of the board of directors of Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement through 2010.
Until next week…kisses.