Diane, who was raised on Balboa Island, told me her mother originally had the idea of a full-scale dress-up tea party because she was from Michigan and still appreciated the sense of formality and pageantry that's not really a deep-rooted part of West Coast beach culture. In fact, at her granddaughter's party, Diane wore her mom's mink coat, the same one she was photographed wearing back in 1960 (though back then, it all but swallowed her up).
She had such fond memories of the party that when Mende turned 10, it was a no-brainer to recreate the same sort of affair. But styles had changed.
"When I went through my mom's closet for my 10th year party, it was like Madonna's wardrobe," Mende said. "All bright colors and big shoulder pads. Now today, the girls all look like they're going to a prom. So with these parties, we see how fashion changes, too."
Mende added that she likes this kind of family tradition, because the fast-paced world around us has had its way with many traditions, chewing them up and leaving them on the dust heap.
The girls at the Capital Grille all seemed enamored of the concept of wearing their moms' dresses (slightly altered for the party), wearing a little makeup and behaving like the grownups they dream of becoming.
A chocolate frosted cake with colored sprinkles awaited on a white linen tablecloth, as did an elegant lunch and a silver tray full of Shirley Temples on the rocks.
And pictures were taken, of course, to commemorate and continue a Huntington Beach tradition that we are proud to present here in the Independent.
Toby basked in the moment of tradition with great aplomb and seemed to appreciate the gravity of what had come before her, telling me that when she grows up, she'd like to do her best to continue the tradition through the next generation.
And Toby, a note to you. I'd like nothing more than to still be writing this column at that point about your child's party. And I promise — we'll put the picture in the paper.
CHRIS EPTING is the author of 19 books, including the new "Baseball in Orange County" from Arcadia Publishing. You can chat with him on Twitter @chrisepting or follow his column at http://www.facebook.com/hbindependent.