Camelliaettes honor elders, share culture

Each honoree received a Bible. Here, Camelliaette Jean Kiner, left, presents a Bible to Susie White. Elders at least 90 years young were recognized.

Aida Mallard/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:26 p.m.

The elders of the community were showered with praise and attention at a special tribute last Sunday during "Out of the Past, An African American Renaissance of Great Food & Culture," which was presented by the Historic Camelliaettes Club of Gainesville.

Founded in 1949 as a social club by a group of teachers at historic Lincoln High School, the Camelliaettes have grown into a social/service club with membership by invitation only.

Club members meet the third Thursday of each month in the homes of club members and at other venues.

Nearly 100 men, women and children attended "Out of the Past," which also celebrated the rich African-American culture with a sampling of soul food, music, historic displays, storytelling and praise dancing.

Camelliaette Sandra Bradley offered the invocation.

The special tribute to elders at least 90 years young included a performance by the "Jewel" Praise Dancers from Greater Bethel AME Church, ballads and poems by Vivian Filer, a celebrated storyteller and community activist, and a saxophone solo by Abijah Bertrand, a local musician.

Camelliaette Jean Kiner presented each honoree with a Bible to pass on to their children.

"We're honoring you," said Camelliaette Kate Mayberry, who presided over the event. "We got to where we are today because of you."

Those recognized included Doretha Spence Bryant, Roxell Golston, Verdell Jones, Rufus Moss, Ethel Weaver, Oliver Jones, Burnice Gaskin, Pearl M. Hill, Lillie McHolmes, Ruth Murray, Jessie Jones, Susie White, William Hunt and the Rev. T.A. Wright.

Jacquelyn D. Hart, club president, called the honorees role models.

She also gave a brief history of the club and introduced each club member.

"We need to talk to our honorees and find out what their formula is," said Hart. "They may be doing something that we can do."

Hill, who is 94 years young, shared her formula for youthfulness.

"Living right, doing right, treating your neighbor as yourself, and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you," Hill said.

Mayberry also recognized children in the audience and advised them to "always respect your elders. They're the ones that helped you get to this day," Mayberry said.

In her occasion remarks, Camelliaette Frances Rollins-Thomas encouraged participants to taste the soul food, which was prepared by club members, and to browse the historical table displays featuring antiques, old family photographs and hand-made items, such as afghans, figurines and more.

The menu included collard greens, crackling bread, potato salad, hogshead cheese, cornbread, lima beans, chitterlings. neckbones and rice, pigs feet, black-eyed peas, macaroni and cheese, an array of desserts, and more.

"Soul food was food made with love of family," said Mayberry. "It may not have been the most nutritious, but it was the best."

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