Picnic With Hats 1919

This photograph is dated September 1, 1919. The people from left to right are – my Grandfather Mershell C. Graham (aka Poppy), Mrs. Hicks from Chicago and Moses L. Walker. They seem to be having a picnic. I don’t know who Mrs. Hicks is. She only appears in the photos from this day. Uncle Moses wasn’t actually our uncle. He was the uncle of our cousins and an old friend of my grandparents from Montgomery, Alabama. My grandparents roomed with the Walkers when they first moved up to Detroit in 1918 and they were my Aunt Mary V.’s Godparents.

I have transcribed below part of an interview my cousin Margret did with Uncle Moses daughter, Mignon.

Today is May 15, 1986. I am going to interview Mignon Walker Brown, my cousin.

Margaret: So now where did your mother and father meet?
Mignon: In Memphis.
Margaret: And how did that come about? Have you any idea?
Mignon: Yes. My father was from Montgomery but he went to Tuskegee to School. And he became a protégé of Dr. George Washington Carver and he wanted to go to business school so Dr. Carver made arrangements for him to get a job at Iowa State University to go to the business school for a year.
Margaret: George Washington Carver?
Mignon: George Washington Carver.
Margaret: Not Booker T. Washington?
Mignon: George Washington Carver.
Margaret: I never knew that.
Mignon: As a matter of fact, my father was very disappointed when I was born that I wasn’t a boy because I was to be named George Washington Carver. (Laughter.)
At any rate, Daddy went to Iowa and stayed the year. He did not graduate because he thought he had made an A in one course and they gave him a B and he would not accept the diploma. But he left there and his older sister lived in what was then Indian Territory before it became the State of Oklahoma.
Margaret: Which sister was that? Susan?
Mignon: His oldest sister Annie.
Margaret: Annie?
Mignon: Not Annie, Susie, his oldest sister Susie who was married and living there. And his occupation was to…. he had a mule that he rode and sold Bibles to the Indians. And in his last illness we were sitting… there used to be a program on television. He would look at this town and say, My goodness, the people who did these sets certainly knew what they were doing because it looked exactly like that town because he had traveled throughout the West.
He came back and went to Mississippi and worked for a man who had a grocery store, a general store, and he used to go to Memphis to buy for the store and in those days he had just come from the West and he wore his hair like Buffalo Bill, long and they used to tease my mother about her boyfriend with the curls. But anyway, this is how she met him because he went to Memphis to buy for the store.
Margaret: And what did she do? What was she doing then?
Mignon: My mother?
Margaret: Umm humm.
Mignon: Just living with my grandmother. She didn’t do anything.
Margaret: Where did she go to school?
Mignon: Chicago. She finished high school in Chicago.
Margaret: I see.
Mignon: And she became a milliner. Then she decided to go back to Memphis and she didn’t have to work.
Margaret: Now they married in Memphis?
Mignon: They married in Memphis and went to Washington to live. They married in 1908. At that time my father was working in the Treasury Department in Washington.

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14 thoughts on “Picnic With Hats 1919

  1. I love the way people dressed up for picnics in those days. Your grandfather looks so dapper and handsome.

  2. What a fascinating interview! I can just see Moses with his mule and bibles! What a charming photo of a picnic group too!


  3. Very interesting interview. I love the boldness of not accepting the diploma because of the dispute over the grade. I wonder, though, if he might be officially on record as graduating? That would be something fun to research.

  4. What a wonderful interview! How fortunate for you to havew that! I can see that wonderful picnic basket on the ground when I enlarge the photo. I wonder if they were as comfortable at their picnics back then, all dressed up finely as we are today in our bar-b-ques? They look like they are having a good time!

  5. This is such a nice photo, because you can tell that they're relaxed and having a good time, and it shows some great hats! Very good idea to do those interviews. I almost wonder if it doesn't make more sense (sometimes) to have a non-family member do the interview. My sense is that relatives can sometimes leave out important information in interviews,because they know or assume that you know it too.

  6. Before I read what you wrote about the photo I imagined the man and woman on the right as a couple because of the way they are leaning and the tilt of their heads. I was disappointed to find that they were not!

    It's a great photo of your grandfather! He looks like a person with a strong character.

    I love the interview!

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