Friday, November 15, 2013

If Truman Capote and Diane Arbus threw a party in Haywood County, this is what it would look like

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These incredibly strange photos were taken at my paternal grandparent's house. They are unusual for several reasons. Obviously, a bunch of older adults dressed strange costumes -- and then posed like they're at Studio 54 is fascinating.

But also, I'm certain anyone who knew Bo and Elizabeth Williams would not have considered them big party-throwers. 

The one in the middle with the flower is my grandmother or "Granny" as we called her. 

Another odd thing about these photos is that you can't tell where their early 1960s clothing ends and their costumes begin. I am guessing most of them are wearing the glasses they wore every day. 

It's like the theme of the party was "just do something weird to yourself." A lot of them rolled up their pants legs like they were almost wearing shorts. Scandalous.

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"Daddy Bo," my grandfather, is the one wearing a bow-tie. I'm pretty sure he's wearing make-up as well. No judgment.

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This photo shows off my grandparents den furnishings really well. I was born around this time so I can say with confidence, most of this stayed as it was until my grandfather's death in 2008.

Through the years, it would fill up with lots of photos of their adult children and grandchildren but that was about it. You can get a sense of the decor of their house on this blog entry I posted a few years ago.

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I am guessing these party guests were from my grandparent's church, Holly Grove Baptist Church. I can also say with confidence, no alcohol was served at this party. My grandmother was a teetotaler.

One summer when I was a kid, my parents dropped me off at Granny and Daddy Bo's to spend a few days. Once my parent's left, she said, "Go look in the 'frigerator and you'll see Pat's blue ribbon." Since I have a cousin named Pat, that made some sort of sense, but the way she said it indicated I was going to see something memorable.

Even when I saw the can of beer sitting there in fridge, intentionally separated from everything else, it still didn't make sense to me.

Until she pointed out the name and laughed. It was Pabst Blue Ribbon. She took it out, sat it on the table and told me how bad it would be to drink it and that if she didn't want to try out a recipe for beer bread, she would never allow this in her house.

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Unfortunately, I forgot the story she told next but it had something to do with her being a young girl and someone -- it may have been one of her older Castellaw brothers -- having some sort of "honkey-tonk" in a basement where they made moonshine. She didn't attend the festivities but she knew they would dance, drink and sin all night long because there was a small window close to the ground and she would spy on them. She made sure I knew every one of those people's lives were eventually ruined by alcohol so I should never drink. 

She finally pointed out that we had nothing to worry about making bread though because anything bad would burn away while the bread was cooking. 

Still, I remember eating that bread seemed awfully sinful and I was certain I felt a little dizzy after eating it.

I never see the Pabst Blue Ribbon logo that I don't think about her and those sinful basement honkey-tonk parties. 

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or to check out the genealogy research about my specific family lines, go to my Haywood County Line Genealogy Website.


  1. It appears that you may have discovered some snapshots of a Tacky Party. At least that's what my parents and their friends used to call them. It was a fad here in Texas during the mid to late 50's. Elaine

  2. Enjoyed seeing these pictures. My wife Judy Shelton Joyner parents are in this picture along with people from Providence UMC . Judy`s grandmother Mae was your great grandmothers sister.