It took 105 years, but Bonnie Clark Moses finally did it.
In a closed meeting Monday night, Moses broke a century-old tradition and became the first female member of Alexandria's Old Dominion Boat Club, a private social and athletic club at the foot of King Street that occupies one of the city's most valuable pieces of property.
"Someone had to be the first," said Moses, 41, president of two travel agencies, Old Town Travel and Travel Pointe. "But I don't feel I'm breaking down any walls because I think the club was ready."
But "ready" isn't the word some members said they would choose. Said 58-year member Julian Whitestone, 75: "I don't see why a woman would want to belong to an all-male club. I mean, it doesn't make any difference to me, but I imagine quite a few of the old-timers would be against it."
Even club President Paul D. Thomas declined to say how he personally felt about admitting the first female member. "I imagine some oppose it," he said. "But my job is to welcome all new members."
Resisting women as members and enduring ruckuses because of it has become almost a pastime for some of the 520 club members. In 1980, the club voted to throw out two male members who sponsored a woman, Clarissa Brainard. That same year, at the club's 100th anniversary, feminists chanted slogans while the future governor of Virginia, Charles S. Robb, tried to deliver an address.
It was finally the city government that pressured the club to allow women to sit around its bar and use its boat slips as full-fledged members, a move that caused the club to alter its by-laws in 1983.
But since that policy change, no women have requested membership, according to Thomas.
Brainard, the owner of Clarissa's, an Old Town boutique, said it's no doubt the all-male tradition at the club made women feel uncomfortable about applying even after they were allowed to.
"I love it. I love it," the shop owner said. "I wonder how they ever did it."
Moses said she did not apply to become a "female first." Rather, she said, "I just like the club. It gives me a private place to meet clients."
Even though she said a minority might be against her membership, "the majority who helped vote me in is welcome enough for me."