Saturday, June 25, 2016

Society Saturday - Southern Dames in Alabama

The Annual Assembly of the National Society Southern Dames of America was held in Birmingham, Alabama.

The meeting started with a "Fun Day" on Thursday.  Over 50 ladies drove to the Arlington House for lunch and a tour.  Our luncheon speaker was "Lou Wooster", a famous madam from Birmingham.  She told us how she moved from Montgomery to the brand new town of Birmingham in 1871 to establish a business.  She was very successful until a cholera epidemic impacted her business.  She and her "girls" volunteered to help nurse (and sometimes bury) the cholera victims.  This earned her a congressional commendation for her service.

We then toured Arlington House - the only antebellum home still standing in Birmingham.  It was built in the 1840's.  Union General Wilson took over the first floor of the home near the end of the Civil War.  The house was later used as a boarding house.  It has been restored as a museum since the 1950's.

The next day, we learned a history of Civilization as told by dolls.  This was an interesting program given by Annette Smith, an avid doll collector. She brought representative antique dolls from her collection and told how the type of doll reflected the industrial and political happenings of the time.  

Then there was a memorial service and a board meeting, with the business session the next day.

On Saturday, we had the Eye Program luncheon.  One of the main purposes of this organization is support of eye research and eye assistance programs.  The speaker at this luncheon was Dr. Dawn DeCarlo, an optometrist who specializes in rehabilitation for patients with low vision.  She told of some of the things that can be done by adding magnification and manipulating contrast to help people see.  Her research focuses on children who are visually impaired.  

That evening we had a formal banquet followed by Awards.  We were entertained by some of the ladies from North Carolina who gave a program about "One Eyed Jacks and Jills" - they told of several famous people who had only one eye - from Sandy Duncan to Sammy Davis Jr to Teddy Roosevelt.  Awards ranged from membership to outstanding programs to Creative Arts. 

The other main purpose of this organization is support of the Creative Arts.  During the weekend, there were several items on display that had been made by the members.  Awards were given for the best in each category.

The evening concluded with installation of new officers for the 2016-2018 term.  All in all, it was an enjoyable weekend and I look forward to returning next year.

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