4:00 P.M., December 5, 1996
8, 1981, in Redlands
by Harley E. Tillitt
Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public Library
© 1995 by HARLEY E. TILLITT
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 95-090308
Harley Tillitt is a native of the village of Del Rosa, California
located in what is now the North East part of San Bernardino. He attended Del Rosa Grammar
school, which was on the same site as the school in which his parents, in about 1900, met
in the first grade. He attended Highland Junior High School, and was graduated from San
Bernardino High School, the University of Redlands, and the Claremont Graduate School.
In 1938 he was married to Sylvia Jewel Payne. There were two children,
Jay Lanning and Kay Lynn.
After five years in the California Public School System he became
involved with the Manhattan Project [A-Bomb] at the University of California, Berkeley,
and at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. After War II he was employed by the U.S. Navy, in the
Mathematics Division of its largest laboratory, then known as the Naval Ordnance Test
Station, at China Lake, California, with the responsibility to establish a center for
scientific and technical computation. In 1971, "on loan from China Lake", he
became a part of the Headquarters Staff of the Navy Material Command, located in
Arlington, Virginia. He was involved with the acquisition and dissemination of information
related to the Navy's Research and Development programs.
He has given papers on computer-related topics both in the United
States and abroad.
He retired in 1975. He was widowed in 1994. In 1996 he married his high
school sweetheart, Frances Lucille Hunting Bryan. Frances passed away in 1996.
405 Thursday Coffees
by Harley E. Tillitt
HOW IT ALL STARTED
THE FIRST TEN COFFEES
PARTIAL LIST OF ATTENDEES
DATES AND ATTENDANCE,
COFFEES IN REDLANDS
It was on October 8, 1981, when Sylvia and I first opened our house for
a Thursday Morning Coffee Event.
According to some notes that were kept, ten people, in
addition to the two of us, were in attendance.
May 5, 1994, was the last Coffee for the 1993-1994 Season. This marked
the 405th Coffee Open House we had held. On May 17, 1994, Sylvia died. As a consequence of
her not being with us any longer, in many ways this 405th Event turned out to be the end
of an era. We all know that past patterns and practices cannot be reconstructed. On the
other hand, perhaps recollections can contribute to the future.
The purpose of this booklet, therefore, is to describe how the Coffee
Open House idea came into being, and to record some pertinent items about the Events such
as: Refreshments, Decorations, Entertainment, Guests, and some Anecdotes.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
Sylvia and I were often asked how we happened to start holding Coffee
Open Houses at The House on the Corner, in Redlands. Some people expressed interest in the
details of the venture. For examples: When did we start to do it? How long did we do it?
What kinds of things did we serve? What inspired the different table decorations from week
to week? What was the attendance from week to week? Were there any anecdotes that might be
typical or otherwise interesting?
So, back to the beginning. We bought The House on the Corner in 1963,
at Sylvias suggestion. We had been in the area one weekend to visit our son and
daughter, Jay and Kay, who were students at the University of Redlands, where we had
graduated in 1937. On the way home we passed this house that had a small FOR SALE sign in
the front yard. Sylvia said. "Stop, lets look at that house." I asked why
we should do that and she said, "Someday we will retire and might want to return to
Redlands and become involved in the Community."
So, we stopped. We were met at the front door by a man who said, when
Sylvia explained our purpose, "Are you sure you are interested?" Sylvias
YES must have been convincing, and we were invited inside. We found out that the family
was planning to move from the area in the near future, and wanted to sell quite soon.
This suited Sylvia. She was ready. Now! Within about three weeks [check
this] the house was ours. The date on the Deed is October 11, 1963.
Now we had to decide what to do with our new house, since we were both
still employed at China Lake, which was about two and one-half hours away. For quite a
while we came to The House on weekends and holidays. From time to time we would spend
longer periods as a part of a vacation.
In 1971, Sylvia retired from her School Administration position at
China Lake, and I took a position, still with the U.S. Navy, in Arlington, Virginia, just
across the Potomac from Washington D.C. This change in our lives, of course, would not
permit this weekend commuting, mentioned above, to continue. So, for a few years we leased
The House, usually to University of Redlands faculty members. We still made frequent trips
back to California, and once in a while, the situation would permit us to live in The
House, between leases.
In August 1975, I retired but continued to work until January 1976. We
did not return to California right then, although we were able to travel back and forth
between the two ends of the country without having work schedules interfere. Still, if The
House happened to be leased at the time, we could not stay in it whenever we liked. For
example, during one summer we stayed in the house of Kay and her family while they stayed
in another house in Redlands. As it happened, this other house, in which they stayed, was
that of a former tenant in our House. This incident illustrates how complicated it was
becoming to be involved with two houses on opposite sides of the country.
In time, this transcontinental "commuting" started to make us
ask questions about what our long-range plans might hold for us. We had looked at property
in Virginia, but still had ties to The House on the Corner. In 1977, during a summer
"vacation", in our own House, we remodeled the kitchen to what it is today, from
the three small rooms which had been the configuration when we bought it.
During 1979, we started to move back to Redlands. I say "started" since it took three separate "moves" to complete the
transition. We had become involved with activities on both sides of the country, and also,
from time to time, took vacations in Europe. Hence, the entire move was somewhat extended.
Sylvias notes show that Bekins Van and Storage had arrived, in Redlands, on the
following three dates: May 10, 1979, December 4, 1979, and May 4, 1980. Finally, we had
"come home", for good! Living in two places had been interesting, but it also
had some disadvantages.
Now we recalled the idea, expressed in 1963, when we bought the House:
If we were going to become involved in the Community, how do we get started? In time we
became acquainted with new people, looked for nurseries to buy plants for the yard,
identified restaurants and specialty grocery stores, and became involved with the
University of Redlands in several ways.
It must have been about Springtime, in 1981, when we started to talk
about what led to the Thursday Morning coffee Open Houses. We thought this might be an
enjoyable activity and decided to try it, with a proposed starting time being somewhere
near the opening of the Universitys Fall semester, in 1981. We selected October 8,
1981 for the first Event.
We wondered how to let people know about the idea. During recent years,
invitations, with a standard format, appropriate date changes, and a different color of
ink, have been mailed at the start of each Season, as shown on the cover of this booklet.
For the first year, however, this was not the case.
At the beginning, for the most part, we merely walked around the
University campus, talked to the few people we knew by then, and invited them to coffee.
This was an unusual idea to many of the people we talked to and they would often ask,
something like: "What will we do when we get there?"; "Is there any
agenda?"; "Could I leave early if I have to?" ; "You mean you are
going to do this every week"?; and so on.
We were anxious to get the idea into operation and, soon enough, the
day arrived. Some data shown below, pertaining to the first ten Coffees, came from notes
made at the time.
THE FIRST TEN COFFEES
||WHAT WAS SERVED
||Dutch Chocolate Coffee, Dutch Honey Cake
||Brazilian Santos Coffee, Brazilian Santos Coffee, Assorted Cookies
||Brazilian Santos Coffee, Harvey Walbanger Cake
||Brazilian Santos Coffee, Halloween Pumpkin Cookies, Black and Orange
Jelly Beans Candy Corn
||Brazilian Santos Coffee, Dutch Spice Cake, Dutch Cookies [White],
||Dutch Chocolate Coffee, Dutch Cookies, Speculaas
Dutch Chocolate Coffee, Mexican Cookies, Speculaas
||No Coffee Thanksgiving
||02 [+1 Regret]
Brazilian Santos Coffee, Speculaas
Brazilian Santos Coffee, Dutch Cookies, Speculaas
Dutch Chocolate Coffee, Dutch Cookies
||No Coffee Christmas Time
||No Coffee Christmas Time
I do not recall that we had any second
thoughts after our first Coffee. We had not set any particular goals, neither for the
general acceptance of the idea, nor for attendance. To us it seemed enjoyable. Part of the
pleasure, we came to realize, was the uncertainty associated with each Coffee. As 9:30
approached on each Thursday, we would say to each other. "What will today
bring?" We were never disappointed. Even on November 12, 1981, when no one arrived,
we had our own Coffee Open House. We could not complain about the Company that day. As a
matter of fact, we never had a day about which we could complain. It was always enjoyable
meeting the people who visited us.
From time to time, over the thirteen years, we thought we were able to
detect some patterns among those who came to see us. I say we thought we might be
identifying a pattern. But, usually, just about the time we thought we understood a
situation, it would either change or disappear. For instance, one person would come in,
say hello, and without chitchat, go to the table, pour a cup of coffee, pick up some of
the refreshments, and go to a certain chair, sit down, and stay put for most of the time
he stayed. Others would join him, and lively conversations would follow. But then, for
some reason, after several months, he changed chairs to a different location, and
"held court" in the new location. We often wondered what brought about this
change in his activity.
For two or three people, we started to think that we could predict
their reaction to the size of the cups on the table. Tea cups were usually at one end of
the table and coffee cups at the other end. There were no "official" servers, as
we relied upon do-it-yourself serving. For those two or three special people, on days that
we put demitasse cups at the coffee end of the table, we could count on their saying that
they hoped we did not mind if they used tea cups for the coffee since the other cups were
too small...they had to be refilled too often. Of course we did not mind. Especially since
each time this happened, our sense of being able to predict the action was enhanced.
The first year we did not stop as summer approached. We continued,
without a long pause, from October 8, 1981 to May 26, 1983. One consequence of this long
season was that we did not have to consider an invitation situation until we started
again, after a summer break, on October 6, 1983. For this new Season we merely invited all
of those who had participated before, plus other individuals we thought might be
After starting again on October 6, 1983, the Season lasted until May
31, 1984. It was for the next Season, starting on September 20, 1984, that we were
confronted with the question: "Who (and how) do we invite for this next Season?"
It was clear that some people had moved away and that others, perhaps because of their
employment responsibilities, could not attend. There were, no doubt, still others who did
not find the Events something they enjoyed.
We did not want to keep inviting people who did not care to participate
because we thought this might be some kind of embarrassment for them. On the other hand,
if people did not come "last year" because their employment did not permit
attendance, we did not want to exclude them if and when they could come.
As a consequence of this dilemma, we seemed to evolve toward a system
of : "When in doubt, extend an invitation. But, if after two years of no
participation, withdraw the name from the invitation list." There were several
situations where this informal procedure caused us to have second thoughts. One of these
situations developed, after the two-year period had passed, when a person said." I
did not get an invitation to Coffee this year. Have you stopped doing it?"
So much for solving that problem!
Sylvia enjoyed setting a nice table, and both the refreshments and the
decorations were a parts of her special interests.
Although the list showing some of the details of the first ten Coffees
had several repeat items: Santos Coffee, Dutch Cookies and Speculaas, that pattern did not
prevail very long. The "Rule" became: Do not repeat what had been done the last
few times. Diversity was the thing to achieve. This was made easier by Sylvias
interest in coordinating both the refreshments and the decorations with special holidays.
Each year, after the first "long Season", an attempt was made
to "celebrate" the following special days: The beginning of Fall [Usually the
first Event of the year]; Halloween; Thanksgiving; Christmas; Hanukkah; Epiphany;
Valentines Day; St. Patricks Day; Easter; and Cinco de Mayo. Sometimes there
were others as well, such as Chinese New Years Day; Childrens Day [Japan]; and Super
With a little effort, involving trips to certain specialty stores, and
visits to some clever bakers, special refreshments were not too difficult to locate. On
many occasions, however, we made the refreshments ourselves, at home.
Beverages also eventually fitted into this pattern of seeking
diversity: We sought several kinds of teas, coffees, juices, and bottled water. We also
used cider and a few special syrup concentrates. During one era, cocoa was prepared for a
guest who did not care either for tea nor coffee. In this kind of planning, such questions
were considered as , " Should we have a red-colored juice? If so, how will it go with
the color of the icing on the cake?"
Sometimes people would offer to bring refreshments to celebrate a
special event such as a spouses birthday, or merely to share in the festivities. We
always "made room" for these special gifts and appreciated these friendly
gestures very much. On a few occasions these gestures took an unexpected turn.
These were the times when a person might say, "Ill bring a
cake next Thursday". But, when Thursday arrived, the person did not attend. On other
occasions the person might attend, but would forget to bring the cake. None of these
situations ever caused any difficulty since we always had some extra items we could put on
the table, and of course we never mentioned the substitution to anyone. It was just one
more aspect of the whole idea from which we derived enjoyment.
Also, from time to time, guests would bring a variety of gifts: cans of
coffee; packages of tea; a box of candy; a cake or breakfast rolls "just for the two
of you"; or bouquets of flowers.
In one way, the choice of refreshments dictated the selection of
decorations since the colors of the table covering, napkins and flowers needed to be
coordinated with the appearance of what was going to be served.
In time, we became acquainted with several suppliers of items such as
mentioned above to supplement our own collection of cups and saucers, glasses, dishes,
bowls, plates and serving pieces.
The providing of entertainment was not considered to be the main
purpose of the Coffee Events. It was our thought that guest participation in conversations
and other interactions should be the principal activities. Of course, from time to time
there would be special occasions when entertainment of one kind or another would be a part
of the Event. Some examples follow:
1. A Bagpiper appeared on more than one occasion to help celebrate a
2. University of Redlands students, who were members of a choral group,
would appear from time to time, during a few years , for some informal singing.
3. A student instrumentalist appeared two times, with an accompanist,
to play selections which were going to be a part of a future solo performance with the
Redlands Symphony Orchestra, thus providing an opportunity to "practice" before
4. A group of about 30 Japanese students, studying English on the
University of Redlands campus, came to see "a typical American House" and to
receive their Certificates of Completion [of their Course]. These Certificates were
distributed by Sylvia.
5. Two professional musicians, one a University of Redlands faculty
member, appeared on more than one occasion and improvised a program which lasted an hour
6. While not entertainment in the usual sense, many people would bring
announcements or materials to distribute which were pertinent to their special interests.
Some typical items follow: City of Redlands election campaign materials; Cooking class
announcements; Programs of musical events both in the City of Redlands and at the
University of Redlands; Copies of diskettes of individual students recitals at the
University of Redlands [Sometimes these were for sale]; Announcements of the Redlands Bowl
programs; Announcements of the Redlands Symphonys programs; Travel tour pamphlets by
7. Another situation, which while not quite entertainment, deserves
special mention: Some University of Redlands students, dissatisfied with what they thought
was an inappropriate University Policy pertinent to certain musical performances were
considering a "strike" [against the University] unless the policy was changed.
[As far as I know, the prepared letter, which was brought to a Coffee Event, was never
delivered to the University Administration.]
On October 8, 1981, the following guests attended the first Coffee
PHEBE AND ROGER BATY
NORA MC LAUGHLIN
YASUYUKI OWADAVICTOR RIOSIOLA THREATT
We did not have a regular procedure to keep a record of guests who
attended the Coffee Events. Usually, after the last person left on a given Thursday, we
would consider what to have for lunch. Once in a while we would go out to eat, but more
frequently we would stay at home. Cleanup activities were usually put off until later.When we ate lunch at home we would frequently discuss the
mornings activities and who had attended. At this stage Sylvia would usually write
the names of attendees we could remember on "todays" page in our desk
calendar. On occasions when we went out to lunch this calendar record was often forgotten.
As a result of this informal procedure we did not put anything on the calendar, even
later, which resulted in an incomplete record of attendees.Nevertheless about 81% of all appropriate calendar pages do show names.
A count of this incomplete record shows that during the period October 8, 1981, through
May 5, 1994, 750 different people attended at least one Event. How many others were not
identified is not known.
Of course, many people became "regulars", that is, they came
nearly every time. Another group seemed to be "almost regulars" in that they
attended on a periodic basis but not necessarily weekly. We knew, also, that some people
were involved in other organizations and activities which had regularly scheduled
calendars. This meant that for these indivivuals, we knew, pretty well, when they would not come to our Coffee. At least one person, who was a golfing enthuiasist and played with a
group on Thursdays, would never be at Coffee, unless it was rainy day, which meant that
there was no golf that day, and Coffee was "in". The makeup of these
"regular" patterns varied from year to year as people moved away, or as new
people became acquainted with the idea and joined in the activities.
After the May 5, 1994, Coffee, in anticipation of writing this
booklet, attendees during the 1993-1994 Season were asked if they could recall any special
stories, events, or anecdotes which might serve as a basis for a "Coffee
Summary." There were many responses, about 50 of which are listed below. They are
presented in a different font to emphasize that they are taken from comments made by
SOME COFFEETIME TID BITS
© So many pleasant memories crowd my mind,
but what comes first is the first time we were in your home. I didn't know you and Paul
said, "We've been invited to a fondue party at the Tillitts." I was so enamoured
by Sylvia that evening that when she sid, "Come to our Coffees on
Thursdays," I was overwhelmed with the idea of seeing you wonderful people every
Thursday. Paul never missed, but occasionally the King or Queen requested my presence at
my desk. Thank you so very much.
© My memory is more in general - the lovely
tables always in keeping with the seasons or occasions, the tasty cakes, cookies, etc.,
the congenial group of people, the generosity of Harley and Sylvia.
The happiness of Sylvia's face as she showed me the Awards she had
received from the Alumni Group at the University of Redlands lingers as the last time I
saw Sylvia. She was such a special person Harley, you were both blessed to have had each
other for almost fifty years. [Ed.: Actually almost 56 years.] May the treasured memories
give you strength.
Phebe and Roger Baty
© I pause to reminisce about all of the
pleasant Thursday Morning Coffees, I looked forward to see the Flag flying, the fire
burning in the fireplace, the different table centerpieces, and all the cakes and goodies,
my mind goes back to the morning of the Mardi Gras [Ed.: Actually Twelfth Night.] cake
with the doll inside. This made me think I was back home in New Orleans and how you both
made me feel like a part of California now.
"Time isn't measured by the years you live but by the deeds you do
and the joy you give." Friendship is made up of things such as these: Caring and
sharing warm memories. That is what comes to my mind when I'm thinking of the Tillitt home
on University Street.
© When I visited my brother, John Krill, in
Redlands, I looked forward to my visit at the Tillitts' Coffee Events. Through the
Tillitts I met many interesting people. On one occasion a gentleman was visiting the
Coffee Event and he gave me a beautiful stone for a necklace. I enjoy wearing the necklace
as it reminds me of Mr. and Mrs. Tillitt and their wonderful hospitality.
© I never got a chance earlier to tell you,
but I think it's great that you started up your Coffees again. Grandma would be very proud
of you. I'm very proud of how well you've been getting through, or at least dealing with
[Ed.: This is an excerpt from a longer letter that Anni, my
Granddaughter, wrote to me.]
© John recommended getting a cake (For the
first Coffee of the Season) from a bakery in Fontana. (It is called Piece O' Cake,
[909-829-8085], and is owned by Malena and Tom Kutansky. (John became acquainted with Tom
when they both worked at Kaiser Steel.) [ Ed.This has been the practice since about 1982.]
Kay and John Bunnell
© I worked hard to get my desk in order and
in so doing I misplaced your enclosure [Ed.:The blank form asking for comments on the
Coffees.] I just knew I could put my hands on it, but it is not where I put it. Probably a
robber came in...
I"m not coming to Coffee this morning as my nephew is coming in.
I will never forget when my husband died, and I met you at Provident
Federal Savings Bank, and though I didn't know you very well, you were so kind to me and
urged me to come to your Coffees. I then met dear Sylvia and you both were so special to
me. Sylvia will surely be missed, but we will take comfort in having you. I hope to make
the next Coffee.
© You asked what I remembered best about
the Thursday Morning Coffees. Of course the first and most important was the opportunity
to meet and chat with old and new friends.
Secondly, I enjoyed the delicious coffee, often served in Danish china
cups. This coffee represented Sylvia's and Harley's wish to serve only the best to their
friends, for they purchased choice beans, lovingly ground and prepared, thus providing us
with a cup of coffee that, in my judgement, is the "best on this globe."
© One particular morning that stands out
was the time that the Tillitts' guest from Japan (?) drew pictures using a black, wide
brush. It seemed so simple. Then later when it was matted and framed it was greatly
enhanced. (Phyllis) [Ed.: It was China, not Japan.]
What I appreciated in addition to Sylvia's and Harley's hospitality was
the lovely art work. I particularly liked the brown sculpture of a mother and child and a
picture by Albert Landeros of Mexican children. (Phyllis)
I enjoyed the culinary delights from around the world, on birthdays and
holidays. And equally, the interesting books with scenes and art from around the world.
And of course mingling and talking with persons from various walks of life! (Albert)
Clark Phyllis and Albert
Since I attended only one or two Coffee Sessions, I do not have much go
on to add that would be of much interest.
However...What I do remember and appreciate is your wonderful
hospitality, your friendship, your great sense of humor, your making me feel welcome and
comfortable, and your and Sylvia's smiling (at least grinning!). You're wonderful and one
of a kind.
I apologize for being so slow in responding to your kind invitation to
your morning coffees. I think it is great for you to continue the customs that Sylvia and
you established. I miss Carl as you miss Sylvia.
You may not have remembered that Carl and I never attended your "Coffees". Not that we wouldn't have enjoyed them, but always felt too busy,
especially mornings. So I would have nothing to contribute as a remembrance. Also I still
find myself so involved in handling my affairs at this time.
It was good to see you at the Edwards' the other evening. Aren't
friends a comfort.
Thank you for the invitation, maybe some morning, I will feel like
getting out and stop by for coffee.
My wife, Heidi, and I were very sad to hear about the passing away of
your wife. One of our fondest memories of the University of Redlands is the day we were
walking hand in hand around the campus, and you and your wife stopped us, saying, "Be
careful, you two - that's how we started out."
I also very much enjoyed the Thursday get-together I went to last
Spring with Judy Strack and Doug Bowman. Everybody was so friendly and welcoming. That's
part of what makes Redlands so special.
We've enclosed a picture of our wedding day, taken at the Alumni House
on December 19, 1993 - the event that you and your wife predicted on that walk.
Doug and Heidi Evans
© As I attended the Coffees, I so enjoyed
the pieces of art, the sculptures, Landeros' children, the Brussels lace church, etc. etc.
I enjoyed the people both from the University, Diana Sommer's foreign students, and
townspeople, many from the Sister City Group. The beautiful breads one pre-Christmas
impressed my memory.
The Tillitts' Thursday Coffee Time has been a wonderful custom and so
generous of the Tillitts, a true gift to the Community.
Dora Evelyn Frederick
© I remember your gracious greeting and
hospitality when I brought Allan's Mother, Leone, and her little friend, Florence Bell.
They were so delighted to be there and to be engaged in the conversations with "all
those interesting people." Mom was 95 and still in good health (then) and her love of
people, and natural curiosity, made your Thursday Coffees especially appealing to her.
They told many friends about the "special Coffee" they had attended.
© As the Coffee Hour Time of the year
approaches, which coincides with Autumn and all its glory, we think especially of all the
joyous occasions we shared with the two of you over the years. We couldn't make the trek
from Yucaipa as often as we would have liked to do, but tried to drop in for the SPECIAL
times like Sylvia's Birthday, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Hallowe'en, and "Special
Event" Days. It's always been a fun and great place to meet and greet.
Ginny and Phil Haisley
© Actually, I have no dramatic, amusing, or
interesting tales to tell.
But, I hope modesty will not deter you from including praise for the
presentations that have given us joy.
In addition to the "fellowship", we could look forward to:
perhaps a new work of art; a musical performance; and always to an artistic table
of goodies. The one table decor I particularly remember was the Fall football field one.
No cutsie leaves and so original.
© I remember many wonderful episodes in
regard to the Coffees. Just meeting you and Sylvia was a wonderful bonus in my life. And
the people one met were most interesting. One of the ladies I remember was from Castle
Rock, Colorado, and she told me she had been a hot air balloonist and was a judge in
balloon races. And Janet Edwards' uncle who made the beautiful jewelry from rocks. And he
gave me a lovely piece that I still use. The time I helped to arrange with Kevin Blandford
to come to the house to play the bagpipes for Harley's birthday.[9/9/93] Sylvia had tears
in her eyes that morning when he arrived and come into the house playing his bagpipes.
When I made the arrangements with him, he asked me if he would be paid and I told him, no.
But he came anyway!
The beautiful centerpieces, matching napkins and tablecloths were such
a pleasure to see each week.
I don't know how many years I have been coming to your Coffees
-possibly 5 or more - but it has just been an absolute delight to be a part of your
get-togethers on Thursday mornings. And I thank you. I will treasure these fond memories
for the rest of my life.
Doris Howard 
© And of course the picnic [6/23/92] I
helped organize to surprise you and Sylvia. The greatest thrill of that was that we did
surprise you. You were most worthy of being honored in that way. [Ed.: As far as we knew
we had been invitied to the Cunninghams for lunch. Bill picked us up at our house, but
instead of going to the Cunninghams we went to the Jenny Davis Park where over 100 friends
had assembled for the pot-luck-surprise-picnic.]
Doris Howard 
© Whenever we left the Tillitts', after
Coffee, we always left with the feeling that the two of them were very lovey-dovey.
Rosaline and Ching-U Ip
© The Thursday Coffee Events are so special
for a variety of reasons.The first being the warm and friendly greeting at the door - a
smile, a hug, and the immediate feeling of warmth and hospitality. And then the
Matchmaker-superb took over. Harley would introduce you to someone he thought you should
know or who had similar interests. Then he disappeared having activated the fine art of
The festive table was always a source of interest - the centerpiece, a
special cake or taste treat, decorations for all occasions and thoughtfulness in planning.
Sylvia, with her pixie-like stature and precious giggle that came so
easily. "The Crowd" consisting of regulars and visitors - from so many diverse
backgrounds and professions - artists, educators, writers, businessmen, politicians,
students, foreign visitors, musicians, etc., etc., surely made for the most exciting
meeting place in town. It was a joy to be included, and has been a unique and wonderful
experience in our lives. Thank you Harley and Sylvia for making this possible. Our circle
of friends has grown by these interactions and has made our Redlands experience ever so
much richer. Sylvia is missed by all, but never forgotten, and how fortunate we are to
have stored such grand memories of a special lady.
Norie and Dewey Jacobs
© Meeting new people is certainly one of
the delights of the Tillitt Coffee Hours, but my favorite experience involved an old
friend whom I hadn't seen or heard from in many years.
In Ridgecrest, we were raising four small children. The most
gregarious, Geoffrey, moved freely around a wide neighborhood. Cassie Sever was one of his
good friends, and I enjoyed her mother, Gerda. We left the area in 1975 and had lost
contact with the Severs - until a Tillitt Coffee, some time in the mid-1980's. When I
noticed a pretty lady who looked familiar, Gerda and I enjoyed a great reunion and funny
memories of my rascally son, and her daughter. What a surprise!
(I also valued Coffee-at-the-Tillitts as a tool for conducting Symphony
business - making and forming and nurturing contacts!)
Cheers to you, Harley, for keeping up the proud tradition!
Mary Lou Jones
© Because of our responsibilities with our
Kiwis, I have been unable to attend as many of the Coffees as I would have liked, but
always I associate with them warmth, friendliness, good conversation, beautiful art to
enjoy, and delightful people, and always to be greeted warmly by either Sylvia or Harley
and sent off with a fond goodbyes. One time stands out particularly in my mind, maybe in
March of 1994. It was a dark, cold day and I walked into the living room where there was a
fire in the fireplace, a mellow warmth reflected from the beautiful orange and golden
rugs. How it warmed the heart. As I walked into the dining room I gasped, for there on the
table was the most beautiful basket of Spring flowers one could imagine - daffodils,
tulips, etc. - so fresh and bright and beautifully arranged. On commenting on it to
Sylvia, she said, "Well, I thought we needed something to brighten up the day to make
it look like Spring even if the weather doesn't cooperate." There were always
delightful surprises and I treasure the memories.
Winnie and Bob Knight
© Paul Allen made a remark about a park in
Ontario which was named for an "Old" Edison (Company) acquaintance...
Wow! We went on and found that our fathers had both worked for Edison and
knew each other.
So...Paul and I became Edison cousins.
We had only a couple of times to say, "Hi, Cuz."
Caroline B. Kurhajec
© I HAVE KNOWN AN ANGEL
Yes, I have known an Angel. A friendship that rarely is told about.
Sylvia was an Angel in every respect. She was loved by everyone that
knew her. She was surrounded by wonderful, and interesting friends of all walks of life.
I remember when she and her Guardian Angel came to our Scotch Dinner
dressed in their full regalia. They were Angels in Scotch clothing.
The Thursday Coffees were a delight, not only because of the delicious
cookies and cakes, but meeting new and close friends and seeing Sylvia smile as she walked
about talking to her guests.
Sylvia was the "Angel I knew" and everyone will agree she was
© I remember Cinco de Mayo, since this is a
holiday I, as a Midwesterner, was unaware of. What I remember most is the kindness both
you and Sylvia showed me when I first started coming to your Coffee Hours in the Fall of
1992. I met so many nice people, friends of yours, and for that I am most grateful. I was
so happy to hear you were going to continue your Coffees, and I know that somewhere, our
dear Sylvia will be orchestrating the morning.
© Phyllis had not accompanied me to the
Thursday morning Coffee because she was slowly and painfully recuperating from a total
knee replacement. Sylvia and Harley graciously inquired about her healing process. As we
continued talking I had hardly noticed that Harley was absent and only Sylvia and I were
chatting. He returned with a framed picture, or photograph, which he deliberately carried
face down, I assumed is was a citation from the U.S. Government applauding Harley for some
significant mathematical contribution he had made in the service of his country . Or maybe
is was a photograph of family members of whom he was exceedingly proud.
I was wrong on both counts. He turned the framed item over and at first
glance I was puzzled as to its identity. Observing my look of uncertainty, Harley informed
me that it was an X-Ray of the ersatz material Sylvia had had implanted in her knee when
she underwent a total knee replacement. Apparently, the framed X-Ray of bone, plastic, and
stainless steel, (Ed.: Titanium , not steel.) was a cherished memento that adorned a wall
in one of their rooms. How like Sylvia and Harley!
Phyllis and George E. Riday
© Besides friends, new acquaintances, good
food, and conversation, there seemed always something new and interesting to see -
a new book, a new picture, a memento from a trip, a special table centerpiece.
I remember especially the centerpiece near Thanksgiving time in 1992.
When I commented on it, you or Sylvia replied that Iola had made part of it. She had made
attractive little turkeys out of construction paper and pine cones. I copied the idea and
made arrangements a couple of times, but mine were never as clever and artistic as Iola's.
Whenever I use them I think of your "Coffees".
© After I had been in Redlands and at the U
or R for less than a year, I became concerned about what I perceived to be an absence of
contact between the residential students and the Northside Community. I came up with the
idea of a "Kite Festival" to bring the two groups together and I proposed the
idea to Harley and Sylvia at one of the Coffee Hours in the Winter of 1983. Harley took
off. He began to study kites. He called the Smithsonian Institution. Coffee Hours became :
"Kite Festival" planning sessions. Harley was a whirlwind in making the event
© Harley Dear, because I have not been a "fair weather friend and attendee", and only come when it rains, I do not have a
list of events to relate. As you know, I try very hard to hone my golfing skills on
Thursdays. Over many years, the only thing that stands out is the joy and warmth and
welcome of the host and hostess - the fire in the fireplace (best on a cold rainy day) -
warm drinks and delicious delectables to munch on and some of the nicest people in
Redlands and vicinity to meet and visit with. I'm grateful for the memories and
camaraderie and am sorry I couldn't be there every Thursday. I hope to do better -
California needs the rain. !
© Some of the main things we remember have
to do with Sylvia's birthdays and her continual surprise and delight in the ways you
arranged celebrations for her. She said to me after the last (surprise at Rama Garden) "He did it again -- always a real surprise." (which makes you pretty devious and
very clever.) We are sure that surprises occurred on many other occasions also. What fun
We were there for the Scotch bagpipe party which was outstanding,
We always enjoyed the musicales, as well as the varied group who
gathered around you. (Wonder how much and how many varieties of coffee you have served
through the years---bet you know.) We loved the ones w/a hint of chocolate.
P.S. We're so glad you are continuing the tradition tho her bright face
and perky wit will be missed greatly.
Joanne and John Runkel
© Nellie Ann and I remember the happy times
when we were able to be at the Community beloved Coffees in past years. Sylvia and Harley
were at the door with warm smiles when we entered and when we left. Conversation with
friends from all over Redlands was both relaxing and thought provoking. What a joy and
help the day Kim was introduced to the method and the material to get his book Susan,
Lay Ministry on the Frontier, into the Library of Congress!
Our first Coffee visit was with our son, John, and his wife, Kathleen,
when he was the curate at Trinity Episcopal Church, from 1983-1985.
Nellie and Kim Saville
© I sort of remember a cake you had on the
dining room table with some musical passages written on it. I believe the guest of honor
was the author of that music and I seem to recall that you had left off one of the
passages and I seem to recall your telling him he could not eat the cake until he figured
out what was missing. Do I have any of this straight?
Love you, Harley.
[Ed.: The story is about a person named Lionel Dakers, a musician from
England, who was visiting Redlands. At the time he was Chairman of the Royal School of
Church Music. His specialty was hymnody, and he was an expert. If you asked for a hymn
appropriate to a specific event, he could give you the page number in the hymnal where you
could find it. The cake had been decorated with a musical staff and a few notes of one of
his compositions. The challenge for him ("No cake unless...") was to identify
the music, not to point out a missing component. He got the cake, with ease. He had a
great sense of humor.]
© (I enjoyed) bringing flowers to Sylvia
from my garden even though she had beautiful arrangements each time. (Every time I would
be) looking for a vase for each offering. Finally (she solved that problem by) buying a
special vase (and I learned) that she had found a special place where I could find it each
time that I brought flowers.
Iola Threatt 
* The chance to meet old friends and to make new ones.
* Sitting in the corner with Marylou, Doris, Beverley, et al.
* Watching the men congregate in one room and the women in the other.
* Saying "Hello" to Sylvia, at the door, coming in, and
"Goodbye" going out.
* Seeing Harley make coffee, greet guests, and tell his stories, find
* Listening to music.
* Seeing lonely people enjoying one another.
* Enjoying the variety of people, ideas, cultures.
Iola Threatt 
© One of the traditions of boat and
motorhome vehicles is to fly your flags. Flags to remember family, places you have been,
personal memories and/or the current event this day and this hour, such as cocktail hour
or, of course, Coffee Time.
One of the traditions at Harley's and Sylvia's is Coffee Time. So when
Bill and I saw the Coffee Flag (It's a small flag with a brewing Coffee Pot on it.), we
got it, in about 1987, to fly at the Tillitts. Of course, it has been flying ever since!
Iola Threatt 
© This particular Coffee fell upon St.
Patrick's Day and Sylvia had decorated the table with an appropriate green motif. Also,
the refreshments were clearly "Irish", including a glass pitcher with a green
One of the guests said, in jest, "I would like to register a
complaint." When asked what the complaint was, the guest said, "There's no Irish
This comment must have motivated Harley since, in about 45 seconds,
there was a bottle of Imported Old Bushmill Irish Whiskey, along with "shot" glasses, on the table.
The "complaining" guest took the incident in stride and,
along with some others did the "proper" thing: they partook.
Iola Threatt 
© Jin Xia had come to be my "# 2
Son". In the dining room, Harley, near the East windows, you introduced me to Carol
Robinson and mentioned that I had taken Xia. Carol said, "You must have a big house
or a big heart." You, Harley, said, "She has a big heart." Your words
touched me, because you see, I have remembered them.
Lucille von Wolffersdorff 
© Harley, you and Sylvia invited Mary Lou's
(Jones) and my first group of Japanese Home Stay students for barbecued hamburgers in
March or April of 1982. We were to gather around 5:00 or 5:30 P.M. and I was late. Mary
Lou wanted you to go ahead and begin. She told me later that you said, "Lucille will
be here soon and then we'll start." (Sounds as if I remember compliments, doesn't
it?) But as I had made the arrangements with you, you courteously were not going to start
It was a delightful experience. It rained. Undaunted, you still cooked
the hamburgers outside with a host family father holding an umbrella over both you and the
barbecue in the far Southwest corner of the yard. We showed the Japanese where the meat
went- between the 2 halves. Somehow everyone could sit at the dining table, snugly. Then,
to complete the evening, you provided two guitars, I think, which several Japanese could
play, (Masaaki in particular), and we sang songs. Nobuaki Nishida was missing, but Mary
Lou and I hadn't panicked yet although we should have because he was walking home to
Mentone (where his host family lived) from San Bernardino, having missed the last
bus. We marveled that he even knew the way.
Lucille von Wolffersdorff 
© I have been able to attend only two of
the Thursday Morning Coffees, - probably in 1993 and, I remember the first time, I thought
there would be only 3 or 4 people there, and there were about 15, and such quantities
of wonderful food all beautifully laid out. I was sure this was a special event but
when I went again two months later, there were even more people and even more wonderful
food. I was amazed how you could keep doing this week after week, year after year - and I
am still amazed at your fortitude to try again. You are a remarkable man, - nice, too!
© I have no anecdote, but I would like to
mention how much Esther Mertins enjoyed the Coffees.
I had known Esther since 1965, but it was not until we had both moved
into Plymouth Village, in 1987, that I saw her on a day-to-day basis. Always she made a
point of telling me when she had gone to the Tillitts for Coffee. It was a noteworthy
event in her week, and she took pleasure in letting me know that she was welcome and that
she enjoyed going. (Ed.: Esther passed away on September 7, 1994, at the age of 90.)
© Thursday Mornings meant a heart warming
welcome,making each one of us feel a special bond, an opportunity to enhance old
friendships and to make new friends gathered around a festive table decorated for the
Season with special treats to match, with Harley brewing an endless supply of fresh coffee
interspersed with stories of travel vicissitudes, and Sylvia in a long skirt and a ready
smile, hospitably moving from group to group.
There was often special music - bagpipes, clarinet, harpsichord, harp,
bells, violin, foreign students singing "Home on the Range". And special events:
an acupuncture demonstration; Ralph Westervelt's 81st birthday with Virginia supplying his
favorite chocolate cakes; pictures of Harley and Sylvia's 50th wedding anniversary with
life-size enlargements of the bride and groom; surprising the Tillitts with a picnic in
Special foods like Harley's tree of removable edible circles, Norwegian
cookies, German kuchen, Mexican specialties, Oriental delicacies.
Virginia Westervelt 
© This past year (1993-1994) especially, I
think of those who will always be with us in Spirit and in Memory:
Sandy's cheerful smile from his wheelchair.
Joe Hearn's reviewing recent travels.
Paul Allen, dressed to give another speech somewhere.
Ralph Westervelt, standing tall, foregoing both fishing and golf to
appear at the Tillitts'.
Esther Mertins reminiscing about her early years in China.
And Sylvia, happily working on her poetry book and looking forward to
the 1994 Anniversary Party.
Thursday mornings have been Occasions for which we who have
participated are eternally grateful and deeply appreciative.
Virginia Westervelt 
© My very first visit to THE COFFEE HOUR was February 10, 1983. I was driving from Long Beach to Forest Falls for the Lincoln
Birthday weekend and had to use the bathroom. The Coffee Hour became my regular time for a "Pit Stop". Once, when it was afternoon and the Tillitts were out to lunch, I
went next door and asked to use their bathroom. Talk about good neighbors!
Patty Williams 
© On November 17, 1988, I delivered mint to
Sylvia for your garden. Is it still growing? Has it taken over?
Patty Williams 
© March 5, 1992, the day after Sandy's
surgery, I announced to friends his diagnosis and need for an oncologist. Thank you again,
to everyone, for the outpouring of love I felt.
Patty Williams 
© On November 12, 1992, I remember a
surprise party for Paul Allen's birthday. I will send a photo of Norie Jacobs and Paul.
Patty Williams 
© Because you love numbers and statistics,
I've calculated how many times I* attended each year.
1983 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 [Years]
2 6 5 14 18 14 18 10 [Times attended]
* If I didn't, Sandy did.
Patty Williams 
© I just remembered the fish - a smoked
salmon, maybe - with the treble clef and notes from some English composer's (of Church
Music) hymns. A guest of Jeff's at Trinity (Church)?? You must know. It was one of your
[Ed.: See the item in this collection identified as JS 01, written by
Jean Stein. The details for both stories will be clarified later.]
Patty Williams 
My memories meld into a melange of gracious welcome by host and
hostess, guests who are always happy to see one another, a table and sideboard with
special coffee and sweets (breads), theme foods and more, special entertainment, and
intellectual fellowship. Nice!!
You asked about special guests. I brought to one of your Coffees Mary
Val and Dwight Twist. They will be visiting me this week, again. I shall bring them along
to your opening Coffee. I didn't want to miss it.
Lois Fair Wilson 
© Your request for specific information has
stimulated both thought searching and datebook checking. Maintaining a
detailed daily journal would have helped! Special memories include a September Coffee near
your birthday, on September 9, when a bagpiper arrived playing _ _ _ Happy _ _ _ Birthday
_ _ _ with the player in full dress, kilts and all. ~ ~ causes me to relive the delight
and pleasure of singing to you Happy Birthday accompanied by the bleating of the
pipes. So, belated Happy Birthday to you in '94 ~ may you have many many more.
Lois Fair Wilson 
|PARTIAL LIST OF ATTENDEES
The following list of Attendees was
derived from Notes that were taken after the Coffee Hours were completed for a given day.
Sometimes Notes were not recorded because other scheduled events on the same day
interfered with the notetaking, and we forgot to return to the job later. Accordingly
There may be a few situations where a name is included when in fact the
person did not attend, because we somehow concluded, usually after the fact, in a
discussion something like: " So and so must have been here because I
remember he was sitting by the door when..."
On some occasions we did not recall the names of everyone who attended.
Sometimes we remembered only one of the names of a person who visited for the first time.
No doubt there are some names which are not spelled correctly because
in the introduction of an individual we did not find out the proper spelling.
All of this says that it is known that the following list probably has
errors of one kind or another: some of the kinds mentioned above, and perhaps
typographical errors as well.
For these situations, I apologize.
Donna and Laurie Abbey
Helena and Paul Allen
Dorothy and Gunther Amend
Emily and John Arras
Sandy and Fred Arth
Ryan and Kyle Baker
Sing and Dan Baker
Abigail Halsey Barden
Emmalou and Harvey Baty
Phebe and Roger Baty
Alicia Townsend Beckie
Carolyn and Don Beckie
Christine and Steven Bell
Carol Critchlow Bentley
Jo Ann Bergeson
Kay and John Bunnell
Linda and Bob Burroughs
Anna Jean Cartin
Anogene and Dr. Sam Cartin
Dr. --- Chuck
Phyllis and Albert Clark
Barbara and Bill Clover
Editha and Dan Cohen
June and Stanley Collins
Wen Bao Cui
Beverley and Bill Cunningham
Birgitte and Alfred Damlund
Ruth and Sam Dickey
Dr. --- Dickie
Peggy and Vernon Dornbach
Zion and Abraham Dree
Pauline and Doug Eadie
Madeline and Bill Edison
Chris and John Edwards
Janet and Fred Edwards
Jane and Steve Elder
Connie and George Ellis
Evia and Sal Ferrandini
Laura Henry Flatt
Dr. --- Franklin
Karen and Bob Gardner
Maxine and Neil Gatch
Jane and Frank Gearhart
Marsha and Jim Gebara
Belle and Bill Gee
Beth, Danny, Sean Gillispie
Alice and Ed Gleitsman
Marie and Phil Glotzbach
Lenore (Onie) Griesemer
Nancy and Allan Griesemer
Susan and David Griesemer
Pauline and Eric Gruenler
Ginny and Phil Haisley
Li Zhong He
Lily and Joe Hearn
Pat and Al Heeseman
Catherine and Rob Hodges
Harriet and Ralph Hone
Emily and Anders Hörnblad
Mabel and Charles Howell
Rosaline and Ching-U Ip
Lenore and Durand Jacobs
Audry and Bill Jones
Gwen and Glenn Jones
Mary Lou and Dick Jones
Irene and Kenneth Kent
Teresa and Bjørn Keyn
Mary Ellen Kisabeth
Mary and Don Kleckner
Charlotte and Ivy Kloepfer
Winnie and Bob Knight
Libby and Jay Krantz
Janet Lake ?
Dorothy and Albert Landeros
Jo and Harold Leiby
Pan Xiaogang and Qing Li
Barbara and Colin Lidgate
Louella and Stuart Lindenberger
Dorrie and Ralph Livoni
Barbara and Chuck Lohne
Gretchen and Howard Lohnes?
Jia Qiu Yi and Qian-Gui Lou
Xiang-Li Du and Jing-yu Lou
Stephanie Book Markley
Mr. Tim Mason
Jean and Stan Mattson
Per Matz ?
Mr. and Mrs. McCrae
Rosa Lamoreaux McHugh
Newell De Arnol McLean
Diedre Westervellt Meehan
Mary Beth Melcher
Jo and Art Miller
Dee Ann Milson
Ann and Bob Morlan
Jette and Steen Mortensen
Diana and Ron Murray
Lois and Klaus Musmann
Gloria and Matthew Nardella
Claudia Proctor and Doug Newton
Anne and Gene Ouellette
Judy and Yasuyuki Owada
Michalyn and Dan Palmer
Florence and Madison Payne
Chao Pei Pen
Mary Jane and John Pratt
Annette and Chris Putnam
Margo Tower and John Redford
Mary Beth Richardson
Maureen and Jeffrey Rickard
Jenny Rickard ?
Phyllis and George Riday
Julia Ann Riday ?
Cindi and Heather Rinne
Joanne and John Runkel
Don Rusk ?
Mary Beth Sarhatt
Kathleen and John Saville
Nellie and Kim Saville
Nancy and Bob Scully
Ann and Jim Seargeant
Phyllis and Orin Sheldahl
Elizabeth and Eddie Smith
Marc Jack Smith
Neva and Charles Snyder
Diana and Jim Sommer
Jean and Harry Stein
Jeanne and Jim Stellar
Winnie and Ron Stephany
Bernice and George Stevens
Eva and Hans Strübing
Nelda and Monte Stuck
Ten LCP Students
Three Japanese Students
Twenty-five Japanese Students
Four Japanese Students
Helena and Phil Swanson
Fumiuko and Nanako Tamaru
Iola and Bill Threatt
Cora and John Tincher
Linda and George Tung
Tonya--- [Russian Friend of] Tungs
Mary Val Marsh and Dwight Twist
Jean and Boyce VanOsdel
Catherine [Timmy] Waldrop
Mr. and Mrs. Wales
Letha Dulaney and Dick Walker
Jennifer, Friend of Robt. Walters(Jr)
Myrna and Robert Walters
Virginia and Ralph Westervelt
Patty and Sandy Williams
Lois Fair Wilson
Helen and Howard Winger
Brenda and Rick Winston
Barbara and Jim Wright
Yuki and Takashi Yamamoto
Note: Pages 38 to 50 of the original paper list coffee
dates showing number of attendees by year from October 8, 1981, to May 5, 1994.
The paper can be read by inquiring at the Reference
Desk of the A. K. Smiley Library.
It was mentioned earlier that after what had already been scheduled
as the last Coffee of the Season, on May 5, 1994, Sylvia passed away on May 17, 1994.
Whether or not to continue the practice of starting to have Coffee Open Houses in the fall
of that year was something to be considered later.
In time, it was decided to continue, but only on an every-other week
basis. The first and third Thursdays were selected. This was a way to continue the
tradition but "with a difference". During this time there were newcomers to the
Coffee tradition. These names are shown along with the others in the list of attendees,
but they have an asterisk [*] by their names. There are probably some names that should
have an asterisk but do not, and vice versa, because incomplete records made it difficult
to know when the person in question made his or her "first visit".
This was done for two years on the dates shown below:
Year Date Number attending Comment
1994 October 6 60
October 20 30
November 3 38
November 17 22
December 1 24
December 15 41
1995 January 5 31
January 19 22
February 2 25
At Janet and Fred Edwards HomeFebruary 16 21March 2 13March 16 23April 6 17April 20 17
May 4 22
May 18 25October 5 37October 19 34November 2 25November 16 26December 7 26December 21 26
1996 January 4 17
January 18 20February 1 17February 15 16March 7 23March 21 19April 4 17April 18 --- No coffee this day
May 2 17 Last Coffee of the Season
.These additional 30 Coffees bring the total to 435.