Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lunch Mates Take Butler, Tux in Stride

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lunch Mates Take Butler, Tux in Stride

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton, Times-Union columnist

As Anne McCarty, the first guest to arrive, rang the doorbell, Zelda Taylor hid in the corner of her living room, camera in hand, ready to record McCarty's amazement.

Dressed in a tuxedo, Blair Hanner, Taylor's butler-for-a-day, opened the door and greeted the guest: "Welcome, Miss McCarty."

Taylor's quiet, middle-class neighborhood is the sort of place where nobody wears a tuxedo, except for weddings and proms. It's the sort of place where nobody ever has seen a butler, except in an English movie.

What Taylor wanted was a response, a dramatic response. Maybe someone would faint. Or shout in alarm. Or at least raise an eyebrow.

McCarty looked at the butler and, without comment, handed him a covered dish. Then she bustled into Taylor's living room. During the next 20 minutes, the other six members of the Geritol for Lunch Bunch, a group of retired school teachers who meet monthly, arrived at the door of Taylor's Arlington home. Each was greeted by the butler. None of them seemed surprised.

"I can't believe they're so blase about it," Taylor said.

There are a couple of reasons why these women, all friends for several decades, took the butler in stride.

First, several assumed the butler wasn't a butler at all, but one of Taylor's sons, dressed to play a butler. But Hanner is a real, professional butler who had been sent to Taylor by a Sarasota agency, The Butler Did It. Taylor had earned the services of a butler for a day in a contest.

There also was this: Old friends can be a tough crowd.

"I wasn't going to let on that I was impressed," Louise Fulgham whispered.

The Geritol for Lunch Bunch was started in 1975 by Hazel Edwards after she retired from Fort Caroline Elementary School. There were eight members then and eight members now, but Edwards is the only surviving founding member. …

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