Last updated: February 16. 2013 4:47PM - 203 Views

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Back in Victorian times, a lady might not come right out and say, "I want to dance the next waltz with you," or "I need some air" or any other comment she wanted to get across to a gentleman at a fancy ball or party.

Fortunately, there was another way to give signals. Using the fan she held in her hand, she might tilt it this way or that, fold it or flutter it all sorts of ways.

"It was presumed no one else understood what they were communicating to their beaux," Victorian expert Carle Welter said. "But, probably, everyone did."

"The language of the fan" will be demonstrated Sunday afternoon at the Frederick Stegmaier Mansion in downtown Wilkes-Barre, as part of a Victorian Tea and Garden Party.

Chef Jody Klocko is planning a menu of "fresh blueberry muffins and various creams and butters with salads and soup and tea sandwiches," Welter said. "And, of course, he's a pastry chef, so the dessert will be magnificent."

Welter, a retired teacher from Dallas, will be hostess for the event and has been sewing a new, early-1900s-style gown in honor of the occasion.

"I've always been interested in history, and I started doing Civil War re-enactments with the 81st Pennsylvania regiment," she said. "Then I fell in love with (the Frederick Stegmaier mansion), and now I have a whole new wardrobe."

Other guests at Sunday's party needn't make entire outfits from scratch, but to add to the atmosphere, Welter said, "We're hoping ladies wear hats."

Plans call for guests to be greeted on the Stegmaier Mansion's newly renovated porch with raspberry lemonade, and the meal will be served indoors.

If the weather cooperates, everyone will be invited to try their hands at croquet, courtesy of John and Jennifer Ochman of West Pittston, who are bringing vintage mallets. Croquet may be considered a children's game nowadays, Jennifer Ochman said, but it was a popular lawn game for adults during Victorian times.

If you go

What: Victorian Tea and Garden Party

Where: Frederick Stegmaier Mansion, 304 S. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre

When: 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday

Reservations: (570) 406-1435

Tickets: $38.50

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