The “Friendly Dozen,” a group of 12 women that lived in the area, was organized around 1950. The purpose of the club was to get together to enjoy each other’s company and share a meal. The original members of the club are no longer living, but through the years others have continually been added.
Each month one of the members serves as hostess. Some have had themes for the luncheons; others have taken the group to interesting places including the Ava Gardner Museum or a special restaurant in Raleigh. Once a picnic was held under a tent at the Fuquay Mineral Spring; and a Hawaiian luau was hosted by another member. A recurring theme in October has been a Halloween party.
Most of the time, however, the members have simply enjoyed a meal together with friendly conversation.
The latest meeting was held at the home of Willa Adcock. The theme for this luncheon was “Did you know that fans can talk?” Each member was asked to bring an old-fashion paper fan to display. The hostess gave a brief history of the vintage hand-held church fans.
It took the group back to an era when life seemed less hurried; people sat on their porches or in church with the windows opened needing a way to be cool for a while.
The fan was very important to the Victorian lady. Her garments were hot and heavy; she needed the fan to cool herself in social gatherings. It also served to communicate one’s social status, as well as to flirt. It was a time when paper fans had a language all their own.
The language emerged as a code of special messages. Dropping the fan meant, “I would like to know you;” twirling the fan told a suitor to, “Go away;” tapping the fan with one finger meant, “My mother says no;” opening it wide conveyed the message, “Shall we meet later?”
Touching the cheek or placing the fan across the eyes said, “I love you!”
Graceful and feminine, the fan became part of a lady’s body language. An early satire said, “Women are armed with fans as men are armed with swards.”
The advertising fan was more widespread since it was usually a “give-away” from a local merchant. Churches had fans with tobacco or snuff advertisements on one side and a picture of the church on the other—quite a contradiction in values.
Some interesting fans were shared by those in attendance, like an old bamboo fan from Elliott’s Pharmacy in Fuquay Springs that gave the early phone-#24. Elliotts closed recently after 99 years; some years ago the apostrophe was dropped from its name.
There was a fan depicting the Broadway show, “Ain’t Nothing but the Blues,” in which Carter Calvert, niece of Margaret Smith, had performed. Among the collection was a Japanese folding fan given to a local family by an exchange student. Eleanor Stephenson of David Anthony’s brought a fan advertising the town of Fuquay-Varina; “A Great Place to Live, Work and Shop.”
After the presentation and sharing of fans, everyone retired to the dining room for lunch. The table was graced with a bouquet of flowers arranged with a colorful oriental folding fan as its center.
There were 11 members present. Helping serve were Christa Ward, Kim Lloyd and Martha Weaver.