Time stands still at Tallac
To know Carol Bordeaux you have to step back in time.
Bordeaux, aka Mrs. Tevis of the Pope Estate, even confuses other Tallac Historic site volunteers by flipping between her own identity and that of Susan Sanders Tevis. Tevis was the descendant of the family which built the Pope Estate.
The Tallac historian has been known to answer the telephone at the estate site as the San Francisco socialite.
It’s the first year Bordeaux will take on the aforementioned role for “Tea with Mrs. Tevis.” The Sept. 11 date has nothing to do with another historic event and more to do with the event always being on Thursdays. It’s at the Pope House at 2 p.m. and costs $12.50. It includes a stroll in the arboretum.
For nine years, the former Quincy history teacher had played the role of the estate matriarch, Mabel.
“I got to be too old to play her. She had young children. I could do it in my 40s, but it’s pushing it in my 50s,” said Bordeaux, now 57.
Bordeaux has learned to adapt.
“This is so much a part of me after all these years. It’s not something everybody does,” she said. “One day I just decided to do Susan. It even surprised the maids.”
When Bordeaux gives a living history of the Tevis women in the 1920s, she talks about the family. The Tevis family was wealthy and social, Bordeaux said. The family — under the direction of millionaire William Tevis — bought the Pope Estate in 1899.
Susan Sanders Tevis, a Kentucky native, tried to escape the demands of that life, along with the cold and damp weather conditions of San Francisco.
“Who would want to stay there when you could come to Tahoe?” Bordeaux asked.
A decade after the Tevis patriarch went bankrupt, George Pope bought the estate in 1923. The Pope signs are due to be replaced by Pope-Tevis markers to commemorate the contributions of both families.
Depicting the lake as it was in 1900s has challenged Bordeaux at times.
When personal watercraft roar by, she’s referred to them as “mosquito boats.”
For Tea with Mrs. Tevis, Bordeaux summons two maids, pulls out the fine china and puts on a turn-of-the-century outfit. The 13-year Tallac volunteer dons a dress the part-time seamstress made, a brooch her mother gave her and a hat that requires its feathers to be replenished.
What’s a girl to do?
A twinkle came to her eye at the thought of her ordering a corset kit for $56. New corsets are much pricier.
“I’m not spending $300, but I do want that S curve,” she said, while thrusting her chest out and stomach in as only a lady would do.
— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at email@example.com