Attakapas Study Club celebrates 90 years
THE POST-SIGNAL / Saja Hoffpauir
Members of the Attakapas Study Club on hand to set up the historical display at the Acadia Parish Public Library were, from left, Joanna Pruitt, Dot Simon, Ethel Thibodeaux, Jackie Buescher, Barbara Lengefeld, Shirley Griffin, Elizabeth Regan and Roy Lynn Trahan. The display will be available for viewing through the end of March.
The Attakapas Study Club is turning 90 this year, and its members are celebrating with pride.
Specifically, the club will turn 90 this month, and the ladies kicked off their celebration by organizing a display of the club’s history at the Acadia Parish Public Library.
They will also host a reception celebrating their 90th anniversary at the Crowley City Hall next week.
The club was organized in 1924, when, in March of that year, the 30 founding members traveled to St. Martinville to sign the charter officially making them the “Attakapas Chapter of Delphians” under the Evangeline Oak.
The name they chose for the club was an homage to the first inhabitants of the area - the indigenous people known as the Attakapas tribe.
The Attakapas members stress that they are not merely a social club. Rather, they hold as their goals higher education, self-improvement and social progress. The women who founded the club had not necessarily had any higher learning, and they met in one another’s homes to educate themselves.
Although the Attakapas women are serious about their studies, they were, in the early days, downright fervent about it. When the club was formed, the members were required to purchase a set of books to be used for researching and presenting topics of interest. The programs were elaborate and often involved music, drama and art. The members met twice a month, and regular attendance was mandatory. A member who missed two meetings was voted out.
The club did not stay connected to the Delphian sorority long, voting in 1925 to join the State Federation of Women’s Clubs, as well as a national club that ultimately became the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.
By 1926, no more than two years after they were organized, the ladies were at work with the parish police jury to establish a library in Crowley.
At that time, ladies attending the meetings had to dress in their “Sunday best,” with hats and gloves, and the refreshments were extremely elaborate.
In the mid ’30s, the club changes its colors to blue and white (its original colors were black and gold) and adopted the delphinium as its chosen flower.
In 1940, in order to avoid confusion with an emergent club called the New Delphians, the members voted to drop “Delphians” from their name and become known as the “Attakapas Study Club.” They also decided on a permanent cover design for their yearbook - a teepee beside a tree - in keeping with the club’s Native American name.
The club celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1974 and commemorated the event by planting a live oak tree on the Crowley High School campus.
In 2001, following the other women’s clubs in the area, the study club withdrew from the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. The programs (now about 30 minutes long), along with the refreshments, became simpler and briefer.
The ladies began meeting once a month, and they no longer get kicked out for missing two meetings.
Today, the women pride themselves on continuing the tradition of always meeting in one another’s homes and focusing themselves on academic matters, leaving lavish refreshments and the trappings for their special occasions.
Anyone doubting the club’s legitimacy or role in the area need simply check the Louisiana State Archives. It houses a booklet of the club’s history for which the ladies give credit to the late Myrtie Hill. With the assistance of Allison Clarke of the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office, the club will have the original document on display at its City Hall reception.
If there is a secret to the Attakapas Study Club’s longevity, it surely lies in the earnestness of its members.
The women of the club enjoy not just the study opportunities it offers, but the camaraderie as well. According to the club’s president, Roy Lynn Trahan, the women support and inspire one another.
Although they are not technically a service club, the women also support the community at large. Among other things, they visit the veteran’s home in Jennings every Veterans’ Day bearing bags of toiletries, T-shirts, pajamas and the like.
The club currently has 18 members and they are very diversified. Among them are artists, crafters, gardeners, musicians and seamstresses. Membership is open to any age, and it bears noting that the oldest member of the group, Joanna Pruitt, also turned 90 this year. In fact, her mother, the late Francis Amy, was a member of the study club, and the ladies like to joke about her being a “legacy.”
The current club roll includes Ella Mae Bertrand, Erma Breaux, Bettie Duhon, Jackie Buescher, Jerrie Fontenot, Shirley Griffin, Barbara Lengefeld, Bonnie Martine, Gerry Meche, Jean Oubre, Gloria Pousson, Mae Prather, Joanna Pruitt, Elizabeth “Liz” Regan, Dorothy “Dot” Simon, Jeri Stevenson, Ethel Thibodeaux and Roy Lynn Trahan.
The ladies would like to invite all past members of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in the area, as well as those interested in learning more about the club, to its reception at City Hall, which will be held on Wednesday, March 12, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. They would also like to thank Ann Mire of the Crowley library for her assistance in gathering the club’s history.