Photo identified

This is the photograph that was originally published in the “Recollections” section of the Murray Ledger & Times. The identity of the women are, from left, Mrs. Joe Brandon of Benton, vice governor of District One; Mrs. W.C. Cruse, Jr., state president; Mrs. John E. Kirksey, retiring governor; Mrs. Ralph Edrington, new governor; Mrs. J.P. Brooks, Jr., Junior Representative of First District (Jeannie’s aunt); Mrs. Billie Peak, retiring Junior Representative; and Mrs. C.C. Lowry of Murray, recording secretary.

Several weeks ago, Cynthia Barnes, the “official record keeper” for the Murray Woman’s Club, emailed a couple of old photos to asked if I would consider publishing them to see if anyone could identify the women in the picture. Cynthia archives all things to do with the Murray Woman’s Club at the Pogue Library at Murray State University.

I published the two photos and just this past week, we were able to identify the women in one of  the photos because one of the women was an aunt to a local resident, Jeannie Billington.

Jeannie came by the Ledger and brought a newspaper clipping of the same photograph that she knew existed in her grandmother’s scrapbook. Jeannie shared a little history concerning the photographs and she agreed to let me share.

“Recently, in the ‘Recollections’ feature of the Murray Ledger & Times, there were two photos belonging to the late Neva Grey Allbritten. The photos, taken many years ago, featured several ladies at the Murray Woman’s Clubhouse. Their identities were unknown and it was asked that anyone with information about these women to contact the Murray Woman’s Club.

The photos looked very familiar to me and I was almost certain that one of the ladies was my mother’s sister, Ora Bailey Brooks. I then remembered having seen the photos in a newspaper clipping in my late grandmother’s scrapbook.

In 1945, my mother, Abbie Bailey Herndon, gave her stepmother, Lois Bailey, a scrapbook for Christmas. Lois was married to my grandfather, Newell Bailey. They lived on South Ninth Street, across from Grace Baptist Church. My grandfather served as church custodian for many years. My mother never referred to Lois as her stepmother. She loved her as a mother and to all of us, she was known as “Momma Bailey.”

Over the years, my grandmother filled her scrapbook with newspaper clippings. After my grandparents passed away, the scrapbook was placed in a box along with old family photos and albums. Then years later after my parents passed away, I kept the box containing the scrapbook and family photos.

I remember the first time I sat down and went through the scrapbook page-by-page. There were newspaper clippings, yellowed with time, from World War II and pictures of soldiers from Calloway County who were serving. Whenever anyone she knew was mentioned in a story or written about on the ‘social page,’ she would clip it out and put it in her scrapbook. There were also many ‘human interest’ stories that she clipped and saved, simply because they touched her heart.

So this is how I came to have the original newspaper story of the ladies from the Murray Woman’s Club. My mother’s sister, Ora Brooks of Paducah, was a guest at the First District meeting at the clubhouse. She was the junior representative of First District. She was married to Jack Polk Brooks who, along with his father, started Brooks Bus Line in Paducah.

When the photo was printed in the newspaper, my grandmother cut it out and put it in her scrapbook. All of the ladies are identified in the caption. I only wish there had been a date attached to the photo.

Looking through my grandmother’s scrapbook caused me to reflect on how important a small town newspaper was to that generation. Those stories and photos were an important part of their lives. Whether it was a story about family or friends or leaders in the community, or stories about strangers that touched their hearts, newspapers were an important form of communication and source of information.

I’m so glad my grandmother kept that scrapbook. She died of breast cancer when I was just a child, but through her scrapbook, I have learned so much about her. And I think her fondness for reading newspapers was passed along to me. I still enjoy reading a printed newspaper (I’m a bit ‘old school’ in that regard), no ‘on-line’ newspaper for me!

I have been known to cut out and save articles that have special meaning to me.

Not only did my grandmother’s scrapbook bring her closer to me, I was also able to help solve a little mystery for the Murray Woman’s Club.”

Looking at the photo, I am guessing this was taken sometime in the 1950s. Notice one is wearing gloves and all are wearing hats. You certainly don’t see this style worn now at the Murray Woman’s Clubhouse or anywhere else.

As I have said before, “If only walls could talk.” The Murray Woman’s Clubhouse has hosted many dignitaries in the past, including Lady Bird Johnson, Kentucky governors and their wives and many past Murray State University presidents.

I had the pleasure of hosting Gov. Brereton Jones’ wife at the clubhouse when I was president of the club. She and I had many things in common and we had a delightful conversation during dinner, and then she was the featured speaker at our meeting.

As I have written before, the clubhouse, like so many other things that have suffered during COVID-19, is still standing, but she is going to need some major renovations in the very near future. The original wood floors are so thin because of the years of sanding and refinishing, and the central heat/air unit is nearing the age of being nonfunctional. 

The leadership of the club is working hard to come up with fundraising ideas so that we can maintain this historic house. I cannot imagine Murray without this clubhouse. To me, it is one of the most important buildings in the city, but I may be prejudiced. It certainly has seen a lot of history in its many years of existence.  

•••

I had a most unusual weekend and I say unusual because since COVID-19, it has been a year since I have attended a gathering of several people. This past weekend I was able to mingle with people and I had so much fun. I loved  seeing people I haven’t seen in such a long time.

First, I participated in the Main Street Trivia event held at Renaissance Park in downtown Murray. It was a perfect night to be outside and I was a member of the Murray Ledger & Times team.

It was fun to be with my co-workers and not be in the office and talking business. It is nice to know that we can have a good time together outside of the office. We tied for first place, which made it an even more fun night. We officially came in third because of the tie-breaker, but that was fine with us. We were just so proud to be one of the winners. And kudos to Murray Main Street for the successful event.

Saturday night I was at Bill and Kim Wilson’s home for a birthday celebration for Bill. There were many family members of Bill’s who had come from out-of-town for the party and it was good to see and catch up with them. 

Bill and Kim have a beautiful home, and they have created an oasis in their lush back yard. The landscaping in their garden is beautifully done with a water fountain as a feature and white lights were hung that twinkle in the darkness. They provide seating areas throughout their garden and covered patio and live music was provided by Johnny Mac.

The food served was outstanding and Judy Mastera Futrell outdid herself by making three cakes for the birthday celebration.

I caught up with so many friends and acquaintances I had not seen in forever and it was so nice to sit and chat with everyone.

Thank you Bill and Kim for a great party and Happy Birthday again, Bill.  I can’t wait for the 80th! 

•••

An exciting event is going to take place in Murray on June 26 - a reunion of the Murray Training School Class of 1961. But the exciting part of this reunion is that they are asking for all former classmates in the upper or lower years to join them and make it an All Class Reunion. 

Alumni are invited to share stories and memories of the Murray Training School from 1949 through 1961. 

The location of the reunion will be the school’s former location, to be marked on the ground in the building’s outline. 

According to John Darnall, organizer of the reunion, those grounds saw kickball, baseball, jump rope, marbles, occasional fistfights and the buses lined up in the back at 3 p.m. 

“Who can forget the sound of Ms. Faughn’s voice, or the fragrance of cooking tomatoes and meatloaf from the cafeteria where Ms. Suiter taught how to properly eat soup,” said John.

Principals during that time, said John, were John Robinson, Esco Gunter, Roy Steinbrook, Mac McRaney and Wilson Gantt.

John said 36 students graduated on the evening of May 31, 1961.

Plans are underway for catering, and chairs under tents, beginning at 5 p.m.

More details will come shortly on how to make reservations to attend, cost of the meal and plans in case of rain. I will publish this information, probably in Datebook, as soon as I am notified.

If you were a Murray Training School graduate, plan to attend this reunion by calling Vernon Gantt at 270-753-9679.