Treasure Chest Thursday:The Unexpected

Yesterdays post was a post about Wordless Wednesday where I posted about High School of Commerce, Worcester, MA and posted a picture of my Great Uncle, Wendell Culley.  Check out the post….(Wordless Wednesday 8/10/2011).

I ordered the 1925 School Year Book of High School of Commerce so that I could get a good scan of the pictures that my Great Uncle was in, and so that I could have an original copy of the Annual..(What Value!).  Well when I opened the book it had a very strong odor to it, as if it had been kept in a dark, damp room.  So as I went page by page reading and looking at each picture, I noticed that there were no African Americans that attended the school, or at least not from Wendell’s 1925 graduating class.  Almost at the center of the book a photo fell out.  It was a picture of a young girl that most likely attended the school, and probably had been the prior owner of the school annual.  (I thought, “I will keep this.”  Why not?”)

Photo Found in 1925 Commerce Annual

Then as I went through the annual, I decided to scan the one’s that had Wendell in them.  He did not take a  solo picture as I have been told, he did not like taking pictures…but he did with his School Band and Cross Country Team.

Wendell P Culley
Only Black in Band
Wendell P Culley
Back row & Center
Wendell P Culley
Back Row, Far Left

Then as I was going through the pages of the annual and a portion of the Commerce High School newspaper that had been folded up fell out.    I had pages 7-18.  So as I started reading “The Mercury” Newspaper, I came across two items that interested me.  One was a “Funnies by Funny Commerce Artists,” and an article that listed Wendell Cully as the leader of the Commerce High School Band, a fact that I had no way of knowing.

Black Face Character in “The Mercury” Newspaper at Commerce HS 1925

This cartoon I didn’t get at first until I read it to my daughter, and then I was like, “Oh, I get it now!”  This was 1925, and the ideas and the stereotypes of who and what Black People (Negroes, Coloreds) were are evident in this clipping by a student.  Now it makes me wonder why my Great Uncle did not have his Graduating Class Picture taken for the year book.  I also wondered how he felt being the only Black in his school, and if he had to deal with racism while he was there.

I knew Wendell Culley was a leader and before his time and here is insight by the clipping below, which I find to be a treasure.

Wendell Cully listed as Leader, Solo Cornet in Commerce H.S. Band, 1925

I knew Wendell played the Cornet, but he is known for his trumpet.  Wow!  I tell you, if you listen to your impulses while researching your family history, your Ancestors will guide you and speak to you.

The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011

Wordless Wednesday: High School of Commerce, Worcester Mass

This is an old postcard that I purchased on e-bay, showing High School of Commerce in Worcester, Massachusetts.  My Great Uncle Wendell Phillip Culley attended this school between 1922-1925.  He was one of the few African Americans that attended the High School and most of the time he was the only one in his class.  

Postmarked Dec. 27, 1918 w/2 cent stamp

Wendell Phillip Culley played the Cornet.
Wendell Phillip Culley (Only African American)
[1925 School Year Book]
(2nd row from bottom and 4th from left)

There are very few pictures of Wendell Culley [Jan 8, 1906-May 8, 1983]…I went to Worcester April 2011 to make copies of his school annual.  Family members have told me that he rarely was seen in photo’s but since I have been digging and researching, I have been very lucky to find a few more that I will share at a later date.

The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011

Betty Peters 1942 Journal Day #10: Amanuensis Monday

This is a continued effort to transcribe my Mother’s 1942 Journal when she was 14-15 years old. She never imagined that it would become a part of the World Wide Web… (Nov 17, 1926-Jan 5, 2004) In honor of my mother.

Betty Mae Peters-15 years old

Page #52 (Bottom)
September 2, 1942

Bottom of page 52

Hello again! Yep your’s truly is still enjoying the wonders of 171 King St.  Oh luck!  Oh Joy! O happy day!  I met Richard (Dickie) Holt.  Let me tell you he’s one of the golden 10 out of every thousand.  He’s 26 and I’m going on 16.  Nevertheless….

Page #53

Page 53

…he’s got something there that I like and I’m going to do my best to be one of the golden 10 in his estimation.  Whoa boy!  Yesterday Uncle Ed took me down to spend the afternoon at his job.  (He’s an insurance broker at the Springfield Fire and Marine Insurance Co.)  Did I have fun.  I wore my pink sharkskin with the stitched pockets and the pleated skirt.  It was the first time I had ever been in the building when it was occupied with workers (though I’ve been there often after office hours).  Uncle Ed introduced me to everyone as his daughter, but only two people (2 women) fell for it.  The other’s knew better.  I spent quite a while with….

Page #54

Page 54

…Miss Hampton at the “Women’s House.”  We had fun.  Nelson Bryant was all over the place.  (He’s taking me to the show again Thursday.)  I was sorry not to see the clown Otis summerville.  He was away on vacation.  All in all the day was one well spent. Uncle Ed and I had a ball.
P.S. I sighed longingly in the President’s lovely office.  Someday I hope to have a big office and a secretary too, I hope, I hope.  As evening came on Lensie called informing me that she and Arnie Cannon were coming over.  Having met Arnett the night before & Having been rather impressed, I was quite happy.  They came over here then we went to Lensie’s.  And yes Gods!!!!  What a juvenile…

Page #55

Page 55

..smoocher.  He’s around eighteen or nineteen & just at the puppy love stage.  I really believe that a girl fifteen is older than a boy eighteen.. He was naucious.  Oh he wanted to mooch, and boogie and hold hands, and hug and kiss and carry on.  Doesn’t he know that junk’s antiquated and out (but definitely out) of style as far as I’m concerned. By 13 or fourteen I would have been thrilled to pieces, but now going on 16, I’m looking for higher standards of co-ed companionship.  This “Hello messy, let’s get groovey?” stuff has got to go and so will Mr. Cannon (at least till he grows up.)   I still crown Earl & Dickie as the best.  They’re intelligent!  Thank God!

Page #56 Top

Page 56 Top

Aunt Ivy has a boarder, namely Myrtle Gaines (Who’s a blip).  We don’t know whether she’s a dope fiend or just a happy little moron, but something tells me (no matter what she is) that she won’t stay here long.
Saw Herbert Wilkins again in church.  Then he dropped by.  Too bad he’s marrying Rita & I’m not about 8 or 9 years older.  Well so long, pal.

© Yvette Porter Moore-All Rights Reserved

Amanuensis Monday: Newspaper Articles Agnes Cully Peters (My Grandmother)

My Grandmother Agnes Cully Peters was a Fashion Designer in Harlem, New York. I grew up knowing this fact about my Grandmother, that she sewed for Marian Anderson and other well known performers, but the only hard evidence that I had was my Mother’s stories, and a couple of pictures.

When I went on my Family History Research Trip to Harlem, one of the first places I went was the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. I immediately went searching for any and all articles on my family and their very close friends.  I had great success!  Below are a few articles of documentation.

New York Amsterdam News, Nov. 18, 1939
Marian Anderson’s Modiste
MARIAN ANDERSON, America’s Number 1 contralto, has engaged
Mrs. Agnes Cully Peters, Modiste, of 460 West 147th Street, to
design an make her clothes for a year.  For a long time the singer has
had many of the European experts to attend to that important detail
for her and they certainly have done an excellent job.  However, since
she could not go abroad this season, Miss Anderson has decide to
give that job to one of her own race-and she should be commended
for doing so.

(Modiste, a maker of fashionable clothing and accessories, with the implication that the articles made reflect the current Parisfashions.)

The article above stated that Agnes would design Marian’s clothes for a year, but she did many years after, and through the 1950’s.  Below is another article dated in 1949.
MARIAN ANDERSON, best dressed women, is proud no end of the talents of Agnes Cully Peters who designs all of her street clothes. She considers Agnes a blessing to keep her in style since she has so little time for shopping. Miss Anderson will be a guest of honor when Agnes stages her “New Look” fashion show at the Club Sudan on the 23rd……

Historical Research Trip To Sugar Hill, Harlem, New York

 Life on Sugar Hill
I am writing my mother’s memoirs of “Sugar Hill” New York between 1926 and 1950. It is a story written from a daughter’s perspective.
Betty Peters-1929 Photo by D’Laigle

Currently I am researching the Sugar Hill neighborhood of Manhattan, and will raise-the-bar of my research by visiting New York this June 2010.  My daughter Vanessa will go with me, as she is my official photographer and will document our footprints.  We will be staying in a local Bed & Breakfast which is located two blocks from the actual Apartments my mother lived. This will allow me to walk the streets my mother walked and breathe in the culture of Harlem that my mother knew so well.

Betty Mae Peters, 16 yrs old

When I was a little girl, my mother recorded her life stories of New York and the background of her family history on tape.  She would tell me that she was writing a book, but never got around to finishing her project. This is why I feel the strong need to finish her book, even though there is so much that has been taken with her in death.  For this very reason, we should never put off what we can do today.

My mother, Betty Mae Peters Porter was born in New York City on November 17, 1926 to Agnes Cully and Charles I. Peters. She was an only child. Betty grew up in the “Sugar Hill” area of New York City where she attended George Washington High School.  Always an organizer and socialite, Betty and her life time friend, Marilyn “Mickey” Sullivan formed and belonged to a club during their childhood called the “149 Street Queens.”
Her mother, Agnes, was a well known seamstress and fashion designer. Her clients included Marian Anderson, Betty Davis, Barbara Rush, Joan Crawford and other celebrities. Betty often modeled in her mother’s fashion show in New York City.
Marian Anderson and My Grandmother Agnes Cully Peters.  My Grandmother was her personal fashion designer
Betty was always an excellent student. She received a dual bachelor’s degree in English and Journalism from New York University in 1947. Her skills and clever talents in writing were evident in her unique holiday letters received by friends and relatives. Betty and her mother moved to Los Angeles, where her Aunt Zara Cully Brown was an actress, also known as “Mother Jefferson” in the television sitcom “The Jefferson’s” (staring Sherman Hensley, and Isabelle Sanford.)
My Great Aunt Zara Cully Brown

While in Los Angeles, Betty received her CA teaching credential from Los Angeles State College, and attended Pepperdine University, where she received her Master of Arts degree in Multicultural Education. Betty became very popular and active in the social and political circles of the Los Angeles Community. Betty taught at Rosewood Elementary School and later founded the Friendship Guild where she was president. This was an elite organization of women who remained as Betty’s dearest friends throughout her life.

In 1957, Betty met and married the late Dr. Walter J. Porter. They moved to San Diego, CA in 1969, and became very active in the field of education, musical and civic affairs. They also became the proud parents of two loving children. Betty taught classes for the Gifted and Talented Students at the elementary school level in San Diego City Schools for many years, retiring in 1992. She was an avid reader, and an excellent cook. A “gathering” at the Porter household was always a special treat. She was very supportive of “Wally’s” numerous activities as she shared forty-four memorable years with him until hes death in 2001. She also enjoyed spending time with her seven grandchildren.
Betty was a member of the San Diego -Tema Sister City Society, the African Arts Committee, The Chapel of Awareness in Encinitas and was an Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Silver Star, (Epsilon Xi Omega Chapter). Betty was a breast cancer survivor who tried to impress on others the importance of yearly exams. She suffered a massive stroke on Christmas Eve, which took her life.

The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011