A – Abominable Weather

It all began during a January cold wave with snow expected across Alabama. My grandmother Fannie Turner held the first meeting of the Edelweiss Club. She was 29 years old and lived with her mother, a seamstress and two sisters, Daisy a teacher and Alice a school girl. They lived in the African American Centennial Community of Montgomery, Alabama.

"Jennie Allen Turner and Daughters"
Fannie, Jennie (mother) Alice. Daisy standing.

Most of the members of the Edelweiss Club were teachers. Fannie was one of the few who worked in family businesses. She managed her Uncle Victor Tulane’s grocery store.

Click to enlarge. Advertisment for Tulane Grocery

Below is my mother’s description of her mother Fannie’s job.

“She never tired of telling me about taking inventory, counting money, keeping books, dealing with the help and customers and demanding respect from the drummers. Drummers were white salesmen trying to get orders for their products and you can imagine how difficult it was for a handsome black woman doing a man’s job to get respect from them.  But she knew the power of her ability to give or withhold orders and she used it without apology.  Her whole tone when she straightened her back and raised her head to tell it was not of asking for respect, but demanding it – and loving the demanding!     She managed the store for the twelve most satisfying years of her life.  Then she married in 1919.”

Transcribed below. Click to enlarge.

Edelweiss Club Entertained by Miss Turner

On Friday afternoon, the 11th inst. ( ie. ‘of the current month’), the Edelweiss Club, composed of a number of prominent young women of this city, was delightfully entertained at the residence of Miss Fannie M. Turner, 712 East Grove Street. Several invited guests were present. After the games were played a delightful luncheon was served.

The bad weather made page one of the Montgomery Times January 12, 1918. Click to enlarge.

More posts about Fannie Turner

Fannie Mae Turner, Enumerator 1910
Grandmothers 1912
My Social Butterflies – 1911 & 1937
The Proposal – 1918
The Proposal Accepted – 1918
Fannie Mae Turner about 1919
Fannie Turner Animated
Announcement – 1 February 1919
From Montgomery to Detroit – Plymouth Congregational Church – 1919
Mershell Graham and Fannie Mae Turner Marriage License – 11 June 1919
Graham-Turner Wedding – 1919 Montgomery Alabama

48 thoughts on “A – Abominable Weather

  1. What sort of games did they play? Do you know? At that time my paternal great grandmothers were fond of playing bridge.

    Sounds nice to be inside with pleasant company while there was abominable weather outside.

  2. What a great way to start the A to Z challenge. I could just picture the scene at the store Fannie, holding her own against the drummers. I look forward to reading all about the edelweiss club this April. I’m interested in why they were called that.

    1. If I read correctly, she must have been quite young to be managing that store for 12 years before getting married. That really took a lot of doing from a young woman to demand respect from white male salesmen…whether white or black, just at such a young age. It’s hard to do for anyone these days too!

      1. She graduated from State Normal School at 19 in 1908. She passed the teaching exam but decided to go to work for her uncle instead. In 1910 – 1913 she was listed as bookkeeper in the city directory. In the 1914 advertisment above, she is listed as manager. She was 24. She continued as manager until she was married in 1919, when she was 31. That does seem young when I think of my granddaughters of the same age. I suppose that all of those things made her remember those days with pride when she was 86 years old.

    2. Margo,
      I’m glad I got to know her through my mother and my investigations as a whole person and not just as she was to me as my elderly grandmother.

  3. I enjoy being educated about your family! Hope you are well and glad to be back on your list.

    1. I was just thinking about you the other day as I looked at the house across the street from me that’s for sale. Glad to have you back reading!

  4. I am meeting with roofers today to get a third assessment and estimate on my roof. I have been dreading this because I understand this company is kind of pushy and insistent (of the ‘only if you sign a contract today, right now, can you get this great price’ ilk).
    I shall straighten my back and raise my head and hope to channel your grandmother’s respect-me tone!!

    1. I’m so glad to hear it! I have so much information about each one, I had to break it down and reduce it to make it workable for the challenge. It was a relief when I realized I didn’t have to write everyone’s life story.

  5. I think your storytelling is excellent, and I look forward to reading your blog. I enjoy learning about other families’ histories.

    1. Thank you Debby! I am doing these day by day this year and it’s a bit stressful. I have so much information on each woman, but I’m combining a little about them with a bit about Montgomery as it affected them at the time.

  6. I just discovered your blog, through the A to Z blogging challenge. I have a deep interest in genealogy and history, so I find your blog fascinating. Is there a way to follow your blog other than email?

  7. It was fun looking at your map and seeing that all the members lived within walking distance of each other. Abominable weather, delightful get-together. I wonder if the teachers had the day off school due to the weather? And I wonder what games young women would have played when they got together? Wonderful, being your own boss in the store, and standing up to the salesmen trying to push their products onto you.

    1. I think they did have the day off because of flu or Christmas vacation. But I’d have to go check!
      I like looking at the maps too. Their whole world packed into that neighborhood until people started moving north.
      Now I’ve realized that most of their meetings were during the week when they would have been working all day. I saw an article that said when school let out… I’ll have to go find that.

  8. I liked “Her whole tone when she straightened her back and raised her head to tell it was not of asking for respect, but demanding it”.
    When I worked I did a lot of communicating on the telephone and I recall stance was everything even though of course the other person could not see it. When I wanted to end a call I would often stand up as though seeing somebody out – somehow it seemed to work 😉

  9. An admirable start to this series. What a lovely photo of the Tulane Grocery in the advertisement. One can almost hear Fannie drumming sense into the salesmen who stopped there, demanding the respect such a well-run establishment deserved.

    1. The Montgomery Advertiser did a page spread on black businesses in Montgomery and that was one of them. I was glad! I did see the store once in the 1970s when I was in Montgomery. It was still functioning. My sister got a photo of it a few years earlier. The neighborhood was being torn down. Very few houses remained. Lots of grassy lots. I believe there was going to be a parking lot. over some of it as downtown expanded.

    1. They left Montgomery for Detroit the evening after they were married so she wouldn’t have been able to do that anyway. What she wanted to do later, when her children were in high school I think, was to make and sell lunches to the men in the factory across the street from their house. My grandfather was opposed to that so she didn’t.

  10. Those small town clubs were THE thing! My mom grew up in a town of 400 and there were several women’s clubs there. Did you ever read the book “And Ladies Of The Club” by Helen Hooven Santmyer?

    1. Although Montgomery was a good sized city, I think that the Centennial neighborhood may have been like a small town. I never read“And Ladies Of The Club” but I just looked it up and it sounds like a book I should read. After April 🙂

  11. I am late commenting on your blog but better late than never. I found it again on Road Trip. What a different world where paid work stopped as soon as marriage began. No wonder people married when they were older. I’m now looking forward to reading the next 25 posts.

    1. That wasn’t true of everyone. It depended kind of work the woman did. My 2X great grandmother, Eliza, and several of her daughters who were seamstresses and they continued to work. Cooks often continued to work. Laundresses continued to work. Wives worked in family businesses.

      There was a rule that teachers couldn’t continue to work after they married. Some music teachers began to teach from their homes after marriage.

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