A'Lelia Walker's Sterling Silver Flask (from the Madam Walker/A'Lelia Walker Family Archives of A'Lelia Bundles www.aleliabundles.com)
Now that I’m into the serious writing phase of my new biography of A’Lelia Walker (1885-1931), my great-grandmother and the only daughter of entrepreneur and philanthropist Madam C. J. Walker, I’ll be posting more stories about the discoveries I’ve been making.
I’m truly fortunate to have inherited a trove of letters, clothes, furniture and other personal items that belonged to the Walker women. Among them is this flask.
A’Lelia Walker rarely missed a Howard-Lincoln football game between 1918 and 1931. This rivalry –as legendary among African Americans as the Harvard-Yale competition was to Ivy Leaguers–brought thousands of alumni and friends together each Thanksgiving Day, alternating between Philadelphia (the closest big city to Lincoln’s rural Pennsylvania campus) and Washington, DC.
The parties, the fashions, the parades and the cars were spectacular, just as they are today at HBCU homecoming celebrations.
Like most of the other revelers, A’Lelia Walker carried a flask, especially after Prohibition became the law of the land. In her case, of course, the flask was sterling silver, befitting her love of fine things. The monogram LWR–is for Lelia Walker Robinson–suggesting that she had it made before her marriage to Dr. Wiley Wilson (her second husband, whom she married in June 1919) and before she changed her name from “Lelia” to “A’Lelia.”