An Ebell Valentines Story

from Lizzie Blatt, Director of Publications

February 7, 2022

The first date (Left to right): Peter, Cathy, Sonja Carlin and her husband, Jesus, pictured at The Holiday Ball, December 2015.

“This is a real Ebell story.”

So begins Cathy Ely‘s tale of how she met and married her husband, Peter.

“It all began with LACMA’s [now defunct] Costume Council,” says Cathy, “where I met [former Ebell President] Ginger Barnard.”  When the Council shut down, Ginger suggested that The Ebell could be a good site for future activities.  Ginger also invited Cathy to a lucheon. “I knew of The Ebell,” says Cathy, ” because my grandmother belonged to the Long Beach club and I attended events with her when I was younger.”

Cathy eventually came to a luncheon at The Ebell, but Ginger’s table was full, so Cathy found she was sitting on another, next to Sonja Carlin.  They got on immediately, and Sonja began talking about the 2015 Holiday Ball. “I was single, in my 60s, and I never had anyone to take me to these things,” says Cathy, “but Sonja said: ‘I want you to come, and I have the perfect escort for you.'”

This was just to be a social arrangement, stresses Cathy, definitely NOT a blind date.  Peter was Sonja’s “go-to” escort longtime friend and widowed in 2013, for when her military fiancé Jesus was not available.  Previously, Sonja had shown Peter The Ebell and taken him to update his tux for similar events.

The night of the Holiday Ball arrived and Cathy was very impressed that Peter gallantly offered to drive from Ventura to her home in Redondo Beach to pick her up, rather than meet at Sonja’s offered midpoint Brentwood home. The drive to The Ebell took a substantial amount of time, thanks to a DUI checkpoint traffic jam – “Thank God it did – we had time to get to know each other on the journey. We’d never have gotten a word in edgeways at the Ball!

“We ended up having a lovely evening,” Cathy continues. “We had so much fun and everyone could see we’d hit it off. ”

Over the Christmas vacation they had their first date and it was like they’d known each other for ever.

However, Cathy was diffident about embarking on a new relationship with a widower.  “Like I said, I’d never been married, I was in my 60s and I thought: do I know how to make a man happy who had been so happy with his wife?”  Nonetheless, she invited Peter for Christmas brunch – “so he wouldn’t be alone, as his family is in Toronto.”

As it happened, Peter had a myriad invitations for Christmas Day but had turned them all down.  “I was determined to prove to myself that I was OK in my new normal, without my late wife, so I decided I’d spend the holidays on my own,” recalls Peter.  But as these things have a habit of turning out, it didn’t quite work that way.  Peter had sent Cathy a text, turning down her invitation, but for some reason she never received it.  Assuming Peter was going to be joining her, Cathy was delighted when she received an invitation to Ginger’s for Christmas Day.  She called Peter to ask him if he would like to go to Ginger’s after the brunch, and he didn’t have the heart to tell her that he wasn’t going to be available, so off they both went to Christmas dinner with Ginger and her husband, John, and friends.

“That was it!” says Cathy.  “After that we were never apart.”

Cathy and Peter Ely on their wedding day, at Martha Tynan’s Playa Del Rey home.

The couple married in May, 2017. And that’s another Ebell story…  Martha Tynan and Cathy were friends and when she found out how much Cathy had enjoyed the Holiday Ball with Peter she joked later  that, if it all worked out, her husband, Mike, a judge, should marry them!  When they announced their engagement, Martha insisted they marry at the Tynans’ Playa Del Rey home.

And so it was.  Cathy and Peter Ely have been blissfully married ever since.  And it’s all due to The Ebell.

Happy Valentines, everyone!

Partners in “crime” Ginger Barnard (left), Sonja Carlin (center), and Martha Tynan (right)