Clayton's charm and connection to old-fashioned traditions are steeped in its commitment to continuity.

The town's annual Camellia Silver Tea, which began in 1977, will be held this Sunday at the Clayton Historical Museum. It has been a way to celebrate the original pioneers who set the stage for defining a place that is rich with lore.

Ray Strong relishes Clayton's "feeling of being a frontier town," and gets a palpable sense of family pride each time he enters his great-great-grandfather's home -- now one of the renovated buildings that is the museum and home to the historical society.

"Every time I go to his house, the memories flood over me," he says. "They are the keepers of my roots."

Strong shares a mechanical engineering bent with town founder, Joel Clayton, who reportedly once owned 75 percent of the Black Diamond Mines. Strong plans to volunteer there as a docent.

Strong and his cousin, another Joel Clayton descendant -- great-grandson Charles Calhan -- were co-grand marshals of the recent Fourth of July parade, and Strong also recalls watching the festivities sitting on the front steps of his ancestor's home.

This year's Camellia Tea, so named because of the flowers given to decorate the event by the late Edith Mazzei, also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the town's incorporation.


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It honors its first mayor Bob Hoyer, who along with his late wife Eldora, were instrumental in bringing several key elements to the town, including Grove Park, the Clayton Woman's Club, and the bronze plaques noting the town's historic landmarks.

Today, the City Council convenes in a meeting room at the library, officially called Hoyer Hall.

Sunday's tea also will celebrate other mayors who have served, including current Mayor Hank Stratford.

Former Mayor Julie Pierce calls herself "a relative newcomer," moving to Clayton in 1984, serving on the council since 1992, and on the board of directors of the Clayton Historical Society, as a liaison to the council.

"We respect our history. There's a real reverence for where we came from and an appreciation," she says. "We maintain and improve upon ... We don't throw out. Aside from the garb, the cars, the size of the homes, nothing has changed ... That's what this (event) celebrates."

If you go
WHAT: Camelia Silver Tea
WHEN: 1-4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 16
WHERE: Clayton Historical Society and Museum, 6101 Main St.
COST: Free
INFORMATION: Call 925-672-0240 or visit www.clayton
history.org.