Scrapbook Sunday: Betty Peters Communicants Class Part #2

This is a continuance of My mother’s Scrapbook #1.

My mother Betty Peters (1926-2004) had a really nice red scrapbook that she put together in her Communicants Class;  that included church programs, little booklets of various gospel books of the Bible, news article clippings and things that interested her or were her favorite things.

Every Sunday I will post pages from my mother’s scrapbook & as the pages are falling apart and disintegrating.  The red scrapbook is over 70 years old and she put it together when she was attending St. James Presbyterian Church in Harlem.  It was 1940 and my mother was 14 years old.

Young People’s Day 1940
Presbyterian Church in the United States of America
Front Page
Page 2 & 3 of Program

Young People’s Day
Presbyterian Church in the United States of America
Front Page

Page 2 & 3 of Program

Marian Anderson
My Grandmother Agnes was her Designer for 20 years.

Articles featuring:
Gertrude Elise Ayer &
Justice Jane M. Bolin

Raymond Pace Alexander

Raymond Pace Alexander heads one of the most skillful, best-trained, and successful law firms in America housed in its own office building in the nation’s third city.

 [Transcribed]

ETHEL WATERS IN “MAMBA’S DAUGHTERS” creates, with passion and great artistry, a character that is almost Greek in its capacity for tragedy.  As Hagar, the daughter of Mamba,pursued by the twin Furies of bad luck and wild temper, Miss Waters portrays a woman whose greatest crime is stupidity, whose love for her child runs like a crimson thread through the dark fabric of her life.  Mis Waters’ voice has long delighted Broadway, but in this, her first “straight” part, the wide scope of her acting ability is revealed.  “Mamba’s Daughters,” written by DuBose Heyward and published as a novel in 1929, is dramatized by Mr. Heyward and his wife, Dorothy.  Here, as in all their writing, they explore the gaiety and the despair of the American Negro.  In the dusty country of the Deep South, this pitiful drama of a violent, uncomprehending creature, caught between her instincts and the law, marches to a classic end.

My mother attended this featured program featuring Katherine Dunham.  I remember my mother telling me that she took dance lessons at the Katherine Dunham School of Dance when she was in college.

Katherine was born June 22, 1909 and died May 21, 2006.  She was an innovator in African American Modern Dance.  She was a choreographer, educator, activist, song writer, author and she was an anthropologist.  She combined her love of dance and anthropology throughout her life.

To learn more about Katherine Dunham click on her name.

Back of Flyer

 My mother always took pride in her own people.  When I saw this page of her scrapbook, I had to smile because she always instilled in my brother and I to be proud of who we are, and to know something about the people that paved the way for us.

Black History month in our household growing up was very important.  It really was important all year round.  My parents had us children enrolled in classes to learn about our culture on Saturdays.  We also went through a Rights of Passage with other
African American youth, and we had a ceremony with African dances, poetry, Swahili lessons, and we also learned about various Blacks that made an impact in the lives of our people and to the country.

I also remember my parents holding a Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in our home every year and we would sit around the living room with neighbors, community members, and family listening to the recording of the March on Washington.  This was always a powerful and uplifting event.

My mother Betty loved Winter Sports.  She loved to Ice Skate and she liked any sport that had anything to do with snow.  When I was growing up, my mother signed my brother Marshall and me up for ice-skating lessons.  It was so much fun and we took lessons for a couple of years, and then it was on to something else.

Whenever the Olympics Winter Sports came on TV or any other time during the year, she would turn to the station and we would watch for hours.

Living in San Diego, I still have had the opportunity as a child to go to the mountains and ski.  So even in our Sunny side of the country, my mother ensured that my brother and I enjoyed and experienced what she did.

MY FAVORITE WINTER


FRICK AND FRACK FROM SWITZERLAND



Frick and Frack were two Swiss skaters who came to the United States in 1937 and joined the original Ice Follies show as comedy ice skaters.

Copyright
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

Family Friends Friday: Dolores D. Wharton “Duncan”

     Family Friends Friday is a prompt that highlights friends who have contributed to the history of our family, ancestors and their decedents.  Our families are not on an island of their own, and I believe that understanding the lives of their friends, gives opportunity to understanding and appreciating our own families.  As we have seen, sometimes our friends are closer than family, and many times this is where we get our stories.

Clifton & Dolores Wharton, Betty & Walter Porter
Visit to the White House



     I wrote one of my mother’s dearest childhood friends, Dolores “Duncan” Wharton, requesting to have the opportunity to interview her during my family research trip in New York.  My request was graciously accepted. I had the opportunity to meet with Dolores along with my daughter Vanessa at her NY apartment.  Our meeting was an unforgettable occasion.


     When we arrived, we were greeted at the entrance by a doorman, and led to the front desk.  Once the receptionist cleared us we were directed to the Wharton’s apartment.  As we rang the bell, Dolores a stunning woman whose years have been good to her opened the door and greeted us with hugs and welcomed us inside.  Dolores handed me an envelope which revealed a 3 page letter, then escorted us to her elegant living room which showed off wall to wall white carpeting, and furniture to match.  Dolores directed us, “You sit here and read the letter I prepared for you while Vanessa and I talk about her future plans.  Clifton and I are leaving for our other home this afternoon, as we do every year staying until the winter.  I think this letter will be more helpful to you and then we can spend some time visiting and not worrying about interviewing as we are short on time.”  With that, I agreed and read my letter.

Dolores & Betty visit in New York

Dolores writes….
(pg #1)

June 10, 2010

I am pleased to respond to your inquiry regarding my impressions of your Mother, Betty Peters Porter, during our lovely old friendship, the basis of which goes back some 65 years!  Given my now 80-plus years my details have long been forgotten.  But herewith lies the essence of our friendship as I remember it today.

We were introduced in Marian Anderson’s home, Mariana Farms in Danbury Connecticut.  Betty had accompanied her Mother, Agnes Peters, a most prominent New York City seamstress, who was there for several days to remodel some of Miss Anderson’s concert gowns.  My family was neighbors of Miss Anderson and her husband, Orpheus “Razzle” Fisher.  My mother knew both quite well–Miss Anderson in high school and Mr. Fisher socially as teens back in the old Philadelphia days with its community of prominent Black families.

Betty and I clicked instantly!  My invitation to Betty to visit me at our home on Lake Kenosia some five miles away was the beginning of one long, extended conversation that continued for decades.  During subsequent trips when Betty’s mother, “Auntie Peters,” returned to Danbury to sew for Miss Anderson, Betty would come along to spend over nights in my home where we two young teens discussed how we might tackle the pursuit of happiness in a complex world.

A couple of years followed with Betty studying at NYU as I was preparing to begin my freshman year at the college.  She was rich with advice for my arrival at the Washington Square campus.  We met occasionally on and off campus for lunch where we compared notes on our respective classes, classmates, and university life in general.  With our residences located in different parts of the City, our travels to and from NYU rarely overlapped.  Betty lived in Manhattan’s “Sugar Hill” and I on the Grand Concourse, a major boulevard in the upper Bronx. I boarded with a Jewish couple whose son was a treasured friend of my family and author of children’s books.  But when my Mom was in New York from Danbury to have Auntie Peters make some costumes for her, I popped in to see her at the Peter’s studio/apartment where, thereafter, I was always fondly welcomed. That visit was the beginning of another episode for Betty and me to continue our extensive conversation.

(Pg #2)

Agnes Peters was in many ways a magician in accommodating her small apartment as an embracing home for her adored daughter, Betty, as well as a working studio where she grew a vibrant business.  She was in huge demand among her clients.  “The ladies” were everyone, women of considerable wealth and achievement–teachers, lawyers, performers, wives of millionaire husbands.  Agnes Peters had been gifted with the genius to design and fashion wonderful clothes.  Without any patterns to guide, her scissors would fly swiftly through handsome fabrics to create amazing suits, coats, and dresses for her famous clients.  I once asked Auntie Peters how she cut so perfectly without any pattern.  In her always softly toned voice, she said, “I don’t know’ I suppose I just do it instinctively.”  the apartment hummed with sounds of sewing machines and Betty’s and her friends’ chatter and laughter to “swing” music in the background.

Now, within this lively environment Betty grew and stretched into a tall (at least 5′ 7″), slender, winsome young lady.  Were I to combine several celebrity personalities to capture Betty’s multi-faceted self, it would be:

1. The movie star Rosalind Russell for her sophisticated, stylish, and delightfully quick tongue.

2. Bea Arthur of “The Golden Girls” fame who always portrayed a mature, comically frank, and a woman genuinely dedicated to friends and colleagues.

3. Whoopi Goldberg–minus her vulgarity–in expressing anger over the hurdles confronting racial intolerance in America with the ability to “tell it like it is!”

Given the characteristics of these colorful analogous types our conversations flourished!  We considered the trials and tribulations of politics, the advantages of the GI Bill for veterans returning from World War II, modern dance-we both attended evening classes in a school in midtown Manhattan called the New Dance Group, modern art, health care, foods, and certainly the best and worse of the young men in our respective lives.

Page #3

Then, not unexpected, time and events changed the dialogue.  Given my totally engaging marriage with my valiant prince and life-time hero coupled with our travels to different worlds in and out of the United States, our conversation shifted accordingly.

Over the years we were consistent in making the effort to stay in touch.  On one return trip from our home in Singapore our travel plans were arranged to have us change planes in Los Angeles allowing for a quick visit with the recently wedded Porters.  Clif and Walter took six year old Clifton 3rd to Disney Land. Betty and I chatted quietly while eighteen month old Bruce napped before our ongoing flight to Boston.  During a second trip to southern California, I took a break from a Phillips Petroleum Board meeting in San Diego to drive to the Porter residence where we met you, Yvette.  You were almost–if not–a teenager by that time.  Your Mom called you out of your garden pool to meet Cif and me.  You were off to an engagement so our time with you was brief.  These were all charmed moments within your home.

Me in front
(from L to R) Dolores and Clifton Wharton
Betty and Walter Porter



Then for Clif’s and my fiftieth wedding anniversary, Betty and Walter paid us a huge compliment by flying to New York specifically for the occasion.  Separate from the anniversary festivities Betty, Walter, Clif and I enjoyed several delightful outings in the City.  These were the last celebrations we had together.  Walter died, and Betty not long after having suffered from terminal cancer.  I am left with memories of a steadfast and unique friendship shared with a dear old buddy.  It is a pleasure to think back on these times.  Your mother was a highly intelligent, highly principled individual who spoke easily to her concerns about society.  Our times together were filled with fun and substance.  It is splendid of you to research a study in Betty’s name.  Surely she would be very proud to have you do so.


I hope this letter is helpful.


Affectionately,


Dolores

Who are the Wharton’s?  Click on link to left (National Visionary Leadership Project)

Copyright
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

Treasure Chest Thursday: Alan Greenspan

Alan Greenspan
Photo from Time.com



 A treasure is a thing or a person highly valued.  I believe that what is considered valuable may vary from one person to another.  I have been on this long journey to learn more about my mother, and in doing so, I have been reaching out to people I would not normally contact.  One of those such persons was Alan Greenspan.  Alan Greenspan is the former chairman of the United States Federal Reserve Board, which oversees the Federal Reserve Bank from 1987 until 2006.  


Before I went to New York for my research trip, I was interested in learning more about my mother’s High School. My mother attended George Washington High School located in the neighborhood of Washington Heights in Manhattan, NY.  So as I was searching the internet, I came across Wikipedia that had a listing of noted individuals that attended GW High.  On the list was Henry Kissinger, Harry Belafonte and Alan Greenspan.  I had remembered my mother stating that she attended the same school with Alan, but she was not too keen on him, so I did not push her.  


So, I decided to locate Alan Greenspan, and this is the transcribed letter I wrote him:


September 7, 2009


Mr. Alan Greenspan
Greenspan Associates
Washington DC 20036


Mr. Greenspan:


My name is Yvette Porter Moore and I am doing research for a book that incorporates some of the writings of my late mother, Betty Mae Peters who was born in Manhattan, New York in 1926.  She grew up in the Sugar Hill area to to 1950 at which time she moved to Los Angeles.  My mother attended Washington High School and was a graduate of NYU.


During my research for the book, I discovered that you were born in 1926, raised in the Washington Heights neighborhood and also attended the same schools as my mother.  These little known facts really intrigued me, and this is when I read a short biography about you online.  My mother spoke of the cultures that resided in the neighborhood.  I remember her telling me she went to school where it was predominately Jewish.  I could truly see the cultural influences of her upbringing as I was exposed to Kosher foods growing up and also lived in a predominately Jewish neighborhood in San Diego, California.  My mother was fond of the Jewish culture.


My mother also stated that she resided in “Sugar Hill” and that it was considered a posh African American neighborhood that has deep historical roots during the period of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1910’s, 20’s and 30’s.  I’ve also read her journal that made mention of World War II, and the Air Raid drills that occurred in New York.  My mother was going to write a book of her memoirs in Manhattan, but she died before her dream was realized.  As her daughter, it is my desire to writer her story.


This is why I have written you this letter.  I humbly come to you requesting that you would share with me, from your perspective what Manhattan was like growing up.  What were the race relations between the Jews and the Blacks during the 30’s 40’s and early 50’s?  I would like to know what the environmental landscape was in Washington Heights, Manhattan.  I understand that we may never meet but anything you can share with me would not only be wonderful, but I would be eternally grateful to you.


I am including my mother’s obituary in hopes that you will feel compelled to write me back personally or possibly call me. [Contact info removed for privacy].  If you would like to meet in person, please also let me know so I can arrange my travel. I appreciate anything that you can do to help.


Humbly Written,


Yvette Porter Moore


Mr Greenspan responded to my request quickly:

September 18, 2009
Dear Ms. Moore,
Your letter brought back many memories.  I wish I had the time to sit back and chat about my growing in Washington Heights, but my schedule is so tight that I am unable.
My best wishes on your project


Sincerely yours,
Alan Greenspan 

Even though he graciously declined my opportunity to interview him, I decided to read his books.  By doing so, I learned as much as I would have if I had the chance to speak with him.  I feel that this note is treasure for my chest as he still gave me well wishes for my continuing project, (this is how I took it) because no matter how disappointed I was, he did respond back to me.

Copyright
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

Tombstone Tuesday: Halloween Decorations Forever

Christine Gilliard Culley
January 3, 1930-September 1, 2009
 
 
Forest Green Park Cemeteries & Mausoleums
Morganville, New Jersey
Grave 34D: Row E, Grave 10
(Volunteer post on Find-A-Grave)
 
 
     In June of 2010, I went to New York for a family research trip to find out more about my mother, Betty Mae Peters life growing up in Sugar Hill.  I also went with the  purpose of finding and visiting my mother’s first cousin, Christine G. Culley, who is the only child of Violet Jones & Wendell P. Culley, a trumpet player who played in Count Basie’s band. 

     I was saddened by the fact, that when I arrived at her apartment (she had lived there since her birth), that she had passed 9 months prior to my arrival.  I realized that it was going to take me some time to find out who handled her affairs, and get more information on who Christine Culley was.  
 
     Within a few months, I was able to make a connection with the executor (Karen) of her estate, thanks to the owner of the apartment.  Since that time, Karen and I have kept in touch, as she has become most helpful to me and the history of Christine & her family.
 
     I have found Christine to have been an interesting soul, and pray that she is resting in peace.
 
 

 
(Portion of an email sent to me by Karen) 
August 31, 2010

She loved all holidays — but Halloween was an esp. fav of hers, and I’m sure much of that was connected with its spiritual associations.  She frequently joked about still having the decorations up all over apt. — it became a running joke with us, and why I felt (unconventional Bohemian that she is) it would please her to have the headstone read “Halloween decorations forever” (although I didn’t discuss the headstone with her since the brief discussion I precipitated on the subject upset her…but I had to get some idea of her wishes).

 Chris had vaguely indicated she would like a priest (the local parish ended up graciously giving her a FULL high mass, even bringing in an organist and singer who performed one of her favs and mine, Schubert’s Ave Maria— 3 of the nuns closest to her and I were her pall bearers; I also half-teased if she’d also like a wicha service and she’d brightened:  “THAT would be nice, too!” but we feared her befriended nuns would be scandalized, LOL) — and that she wanted to be buried “somewhere with a lot of nature and green” (not much to go on, LOL) — but it was indeed comforting to see all the trees and wild geese strutting around the grounds out there when the day came.

A few of the 200 photos sent to me of Christine’s apartment
 

 


Wendell Culley’s trumpet in the background
 
More about Christine (Past Post)


Yes, Christine may have been different than the “norm” but isn’t that what makes our family stories so rich with flavor?

Copyright
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

 

Amanuensis Monday: Betty Peters 1942 Journal, Day #12

This is a continued effort to transcribe my mother’s 1942 Journal when she was 15 years old.

Betty Peters & unidentified Friend

September 5, Saturday 1942
Page #58

Bravo!  I just found out that Aunt Ivy’s birthday is on October 26.  Ha! Ha! Ha!  Victory number one!  (She didn’t want me to know).  Also I found out that Miss Myrtle Gaines her boarder since Sunday last is not Miss G., but Mrs. Myrtle Raspberry.  At least that’s the way a letter from Mrs. Willie Burrough, Mill Pine Ark. was addressed.  Myrtle comes from Ark. So Mrs. Burrough ought to know.  And what about her fiance who’s in the army in Arizona?!!  There are going to be fireworks around this house long before July 4 of next year, and yours truly will be here too!  I repeat.  Bravo!  P.S. Aunt Ivy is also Scorpio!  Hip Hip! Hooooooo Ray!  Dig you later. Ey! Now!

Affectionately
B.M.P.

February 1, 1943, Monday
Page  # 59

See my handwriting has changed!  Lots of other things have changed too.  For one thing, Aunt Ivy claims she’s through with us because we promised to visit her x’mas and couldn’t make it.  She must be crazy!  We are going to write and try to straighten her out, but then you can’t get blood from a turnip, can you?
Alveretta Britton, Marian Anderson’s protege is living in the house in Miss Hicks apt, but she spends most of her time up here.  At first we thought she was swell but after living with her for awhile we really know what kind of a person she is.  She is stuck on her self. She…

Page # 60 Feb 1, Cont’d

…has an awful temper and she tries to act young, even though she is past 30 yrs of age.  However, she has a beautiful voice.  She sang at the Russian Casino on Fifth Avenue last Saturday.  Mother dressed her.
I am now in 6th term and once again in Renee’s class.  Another class mate of mine is Marilyn Tittley. Some more new people are Sylvia Fitt (Bobby’s latest) and Irma Bryant (Ruthie’s friend).
Stanley had his first really big party.  He graduated from Clinton.  So did Freddie, Earl, Roy and Sonny.  Ruthie went to the party with me.  Barbara had arthritis in her hip but she came too.  It was a sport affair.  I went over for Richard Trimpson in a big way.

Page #61, Feb 1, Cont’d

Arnett Cannon likes Ruthie very much.  He sent her a beautiful compact.  He now attends American International College in Mass. Henry Thomas from Springfield likes Joyce, the feeling is mutual. He and Joyce were kissing behind the living room curtains.  Tut! Tut! Naughty! Naughty!
The fireman is still around, but he can jump off a cliff as far as I am concerned.

Ruthie is having a party Saturday Night.  She has invited 35 people. Lloyd Love has a collapsible knee and an inferiority complex.  If he comes I’m going to try to straighten him out.
I saw “White Cargo,” with….

Page #62, Top
Feb 1, Cont’d

…Walter Pidgeon, Hedy Lamaar, Richard Carlson, Frank Morgan and Leigh Whipper.  It was marvelous.  I have have to go to Aunt Sadie’s now to get something for Mother.  So long.
P.S.  At last, I have a Victrola!
B.P.





Copyright
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