Friday, December 11, 2009

The Yuletide Revelers

Posted By on Fri, Dec 11, 2009 at 8:31 PM

In our December issue, I posted a question about a mysterious organization called the Yuletide Revelers, who — by all accounts — put on one heckuva party each year around the holidays, but the nature and origins of the group itself were something of a mystery.

Well, my good pal John Gratz, who knows as much about local history as anyone (and that includes certain members of the Lauderdale family), sent me this epistle:

Vance,

I am sure by now you probably have been sent information about the Yuletide Revelers, but just in case you haven't, here is the story:

Members of the Yuletide Revelers were comprised from all those people who were members of the court participating in the Memphis Cotton Carnival each year: Ladies of the Realm and their escorts, as well as the actual court of the King and Queen and their guards, etc.

Once you were a member of the Cotton Carnival in this category, you were automatically invited each year to the annual party given by this organization. There were no dues, and each person could attend the Yuletide Revelers party. Once a member, you attended the ball each year with an invitation for life.

Each year the barge would load up the current participants down river just past the the old bridge, and then proceed to come upstream to the landing dock at the foot of Madison to a rather great deal of revelry, where the King and Queen would be welcomed to the city by the mayor of Memphis and given the key to the city.

The year I was an escort for a Lady of the Realm (from Riplay, TN) I was a student at Southwestern College. The barge floor had been painted with an aluminum paint, and it was not dry when we came aboard. The sticky, silver-colored paint stuck to my dress shoes, and during the course of the short trip upriver, paint became spread over most of the court's footwear and produced some difficulty in getting off the barge. Nevertheless the entire week was one big party for the court that went to all the clubs in town( Memphis Country Club, University Club, etc., etc.). By the end of the week each of us was exhausted and thoroughly consumed by the singing of "Dixie" at each stop along the way.

John Gratz
Cotton Carnival Court 1949

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