December 3, 1942
CHATS WITH OLD TIMERS
BY O. W. STEVENSON
This week I publish a history of the Fayette
Shakespeare Club recently prepared by Mrs. C. R. Carpenter for a
Shakespeare Club History
One bright afternoon in the fall of 1906 three
Fayette ladies, Mrs. J. H. Boyce, Mrs. A. E. Bennett and Mrs.
Charles D. Neff, were taking a walk thro' Robertson's Woods. The
trees were gorgeous in their autumn coloring and as they were
voicing their admiration of the beauties of nature one of the three
gave a quotation on Nature, I think from Bryant's thanatopsia which
you will remember from your early school days begins with these
lines: "to him who in the love of Nature holds communion with her
visible forms she speaks a various language."
Then another gave a familiar quotation from
Shakespeare. then came a discussion on literature and poetry
especially. They agreed that it was too bad that those of use who
were busy in our homes neglected the reading and the study of the
many literary gems. So they then and there made the plan of devoting
some time to the study of Shakespeare and would meet one afternoon
in two weeks for reading and discussion. Thus our Shakespeare Club
came into being.
These three ladies enjoyed it so much that first
winter that at its close they decided that each one would invite a
lady to join the circle. so Mrs. W. A. Shanklin, Mrs. J. D. Parker
and Mrs. C. R. Carpenter were added to the number and we took the
name "The Shakespeare Club" which we have always retained. These
last years though it has been something of a misnomer for we have
studied and made our programs on a great variety of subjects.
However, our study thro' the years has been largely
literature-mostly modern. We have occasionally turned to drama and
the study of a Shakespearian play and we older members at least have
a bit of sentiment in connection with the name.
These six ladies carried on the club work for
three years when in 1909 Dr. Shanklin resigned as president of
U.I.U. and we were forced to lose a very valuable member in Mrs.
Shanklin. However, we added to our number Mrs. J. E. Dorman and Mrs.
Cooper, the wife of the new president.
In a very strange, mysterious way our first
secretary's book was lost so the record for those earlier years is a
blank. When I was asked to write this little history of the club I
felt very insecure for all we have of those years is what is written
on the tablets of memory of Mrs. Parker, Mrs. Dorman and myself. But
some of the memories of those years are written too deeply to ever
As I look back over the years I think perhaps we
stressed the social side a bit. There were but twelve or fourteen
when we included the husbands so it was quite an easy task to
entertain in our homes.
We have had many very enjoyable parties thro' the
years, but I thought perhaps you would be interested in hearing of
some of the club parties of these early years. They are different as
you will see and perhaps would not prove such a success these days.
The first one given by "The Merry Wives of Windsor" was given in my
home in 1907. Quite an elaborate turkey dinner with many frills and
two young college men, Joseph Neff and Beecher Beale, served for
Some other parties were: The "fagot" party at the
The "kid" party at the Dorman home;
The "advertisement party", where we dressed to
represent well known advertisements.
This may sound rather facetious for a dignified
literary club but we did work and all work and no play you will
remember had a very bad effect on poor little Jack's intellect.
Mrs. Parker says that we studied Shakespeare
exclusively for seven years. I have here the first program after
changing our course of study. It is on early Roman history and if
you don't think we worked please look it over. There were but seven
of us and each one appears on the program five or six times during
the year. But what you get out of a club or any organization for
that matter is what you put into it, and I am sure we all derived
some benefit from that year's study.
After being "wined and dined" by the club for
several years the husbands decided to give us a return party in
1911. The invitations were sent out by "The Gentlemen of Verona" to
"The Merry Wives of Windsor." If I remember correctly it was held at
the Bennett home-a grand dinner supervised by the "gentlemen" but
aided by a very competent female cook hired for the occasion.
Needless to say the Merry Wives were overwhelmed
with the grandness of the occasion.
Here I should mention the profit and pleasure we
derived in our study of Shakespeare by the helpfulness of Dr.
Cooper. He was an especially fine English student and after we had
finished the study of a play he would give us his interpretation of
it, bringing out points many times that we had overlooked in our
Our study of Roman history was 1913-14 and in
1915-16 our study was Japan. That year's study is very vivid in my
memory. We enjoyed the study of that picturesque country, lauded the
Japanese for their industry and ambition, little thinking that the
time would come when we would despise them for their treachery and
look upon them as our bitter enemies.
About this time we had one year's study of drama,
alternating one of Shakespeare's plays with a modern play, which we
found most interesting. Two or three walking 'walking rehearsals'
were given in connection with the modern drama.
I am not sure as to the date but I think it was
1918 that we enlarged our club to twelve members. Mrs. Bennett had
moved to Des Moines but was again a member in later years. Mrs. E.
B. Scobey, Mrs. O. W. Stevenson, Mrs. W. N. Clothier, Mrs. Charles
Hoyt, Mrs. f. O. Brown, and Mrs. T. I. Bachus were added to our
In the fall of 1921 we enlarged our membership to
18 which we have continued to the present time. that year also we
joined the State Federation.
On the programs of the early 20's appear the names
of Mrs. Claxton, Mrs. Fox, Mrs. Deming, Mrs. Maude Finchc, Mrs. Eva
Barrett, and Miss Harriet McLean. Many others I might mention who
belonged to the club not for so long a period but who were always
ready and willing to do whatever was assigned them.
In the fall of 1922 we with the Twentieth Century
Club entertained the District club convention.
During the 20's we devoted one year's study to
Travel, one to the world's condition and problems after the close of
the First World War. One very delightful year I remember was the one
on "Modern Drama and Standard Opera."
Outstanding in my mind are the walking rehersal of
Ibsen's "Dolls' House" and "An Afternoon with Grieg", a guest day
party at the Stevenson home. The music from the "Peer Gynt Suite"
was given by Mrs. Neff and Mrs. Parker, piano, Miss Farquhar,
Violin, Miss Griesel, soloist, and Mrs. Dorman with a fine
description of Norway and Greig's birthplace. a very lovely program.
For the past twelve years or more we have studied
modern literature and our programs have been mostly book reviews. We
have tried each year to put in one play. the years since Mrs.
Collett has been a member this program has been assigned to her and
we have enjoyed them very much. "On Borrowed time," "Able's Irish
Rose" and "Life With Father" deserve especial mention.
One year in the 30's Mrs. Edna Lee gave us and our
guests at Mrs. Dorman's a very delightful afternoon as she read for
us "Of Thee I Sing."
I will not go into further detail of these later
years as familiar to most of you as it is to me. Books and more
books but we all enjoy it tho' sometimes we think them a bit too
modern-but we must keep up with the procession.
I think that the fact that our club has always
been so informal is one reason why we have enjoyed it so much.
Socially we have had many happy times. Once each year a dinner to
which our husbands are our guests and a luncheon for the members the
first meeting of the year.
I do not know how many members we have had during
these many years. Now they are widely scattered, some on the
Atlantic coast and the far East, others in California, and the West
coast. Many, wherever they may be, still show an interest in the
club. Quite a number have gone to that "far country from which no
traveler returns." The only one of the original number now deceased
is Mrs. Boyce.
I have enjoyed giving you what I can remember of
the years of which we have no record and perhaps at the end of the
next thirty-six years a more able pen than mine may record the
activities of the club years which we trust they too will have
enjoyed GERTRUDE CARPENTER.
In 1938 I was furnished this list of members of
the Shakespeare club "since its organization," thought to be
arranged in about the order of their admission. If any one notes any
errors or omissions, please let me know, to correct for permanent
I venture to say that some woman fifty or one
hundred, or more years from now will be interested to see one of her
ancestor's names in this list. (O.W.S.)
Mrs. Henry Boyce
Mrs. A. E. Bennett
Mrs. C. D. Neff
Mrs. W. A. Shanklin
Mrs. J. D. Parker
Mrs. C. R. Carpenter
Mrs. J. E. Dorman
Mrs. R. W. Cooper
Mrs. O. W. Stevenson
Mrs. E. B. Scobey
Mrs. F. E. Finch
Mrs. W. N. Clothier
Mrs. F. O. Brown
Mrs. F. Q. Brown
Mrs. T. I. Bachus
Mrs. C. H. Hoty
Miss Lora Wharton
Miss Harriet McLean
Mrs. H. N. Hoyt
Mrs. F. R. Winegar
Mrs. Grace Finch
Mrs. L. W. Sampson
Mrs. F. B. Claxton
Mrs. W. L. Alexander
Mrs. L. C. Rawson
Mrs. Ida Tidgwell
Mrs. C. M. Holmes
Mrs. R. M. Deming
Mrs. J. W. Dickman
Mrs. J. P. Van Horn
Mrs. Will Kirwin
Mrs. C. B. Swaney
Mrs. Emma Clothier
Mrs. Ray Anderson
Miss Eleanor Garrison
Mrs. Fred R. Lyford
Mrs. Vera Payne Miehe
Mrs. B. W. Lodwick
Mrs. A. J. FOX
Miss Cora Beach
Mrs. J. F. Grim
Mrs. C. S. Parker
Mrs. R. A. Swartz
Mrs. J. V. Mullin
Mrs. Cora Thomas
Mrs. Dorothy Goebel
Mrs. E. H. Cates
Mrs. Ruth McChesney
Mrs. Margaret Collett
Mrs. R. L. Learn
Mrs. Loren Dillon
Mrs. Paul Davis
MRS. KARL FOX
Mrs. Paul McElroy
Mrs. M. W. Perry
Mrs. L. J. Lyons
Mrs. D. C. Eyeson
Mrs. V. T. Smith
Mrs. Paul Potter
Mrs. M. J. Hartman (Jr.)
Mrs. L. A. Carlson
Mrs. Elizabeth Coffman
Mrs. K. R. Schliepsiek
I wish every local club that has not yet done so,
would furnish me with a club history written by some member, or the
information for my files from which I may write it some time.
Thanks to Mrs. Emma Reed Doughty, Mrs. Nora Graf,
Mrs. Helen Knos, Mrs. Ione Potter and Mrs. Lelah Loban for some
valuable data already received about the Twentieth Century, the Kil
Kare and the Rural Improvement clubs.