Living: High Noon for Women's Clubs

Faced with new competition, they must adapt -- or disappear

When Clarice Conley was nine years old, her mother and grandmother began the initiation. Dressed in her finest, shoes shiny, gloves pristine, she was allowed to follow them through the heavy oak doors of the Highland Park Ebell Club in the hills of northeastern Los Angeles. In the cavernous main hall, surrounded by distinguished ladies with brows aloft, she listened to dramatic readings, or speeches on art or tropical Brazil. The children even had a dining room all their own.

More than a half-century later, Conley is president of the club. But the hub of cultural and social activity that flourished...

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