Another 100 degree day! Crazy me has the air conditioning off, the windows open and the ceiling fan on high speed. I think it’s my way of communing with the folks I’m writing about because heaven knows it was HOT in A’Lelia Walker’s un-air conditioned 136th Street townhouse this time of year in 1915. And she did NOT like the heat!
A few days ago while writing a chapter about A’LW’s friends, I came across a reference to someone named Ringgold. Couldn’t help but think of artist and quilter, Faith Ringgold, whose quilt “The Sunflowers Quilting Bee at Arles,” has long been one of my favorite pieces of artwork with my great-great-grandmother–and A’Lelia Walker’s mother– Madam C. J. Walker.
The abundance of sunflowers made me think of a letter Walker had written to her attorney, F. B. Ransom, in 1918 a few months after she had moved into her Irvington-on-Hudson, New York mansion, Villa Lewaro, and about how excited she was to have enough land to have a garden.
Here’s an excerpt from page 236 of my book, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker:
By mid-August [Madam Walker] was “busy as a bee” tending her backyard garden. “Every morning at six o’clock I am at work…pulling weeds, gathering berries, vegetables, etc. We are putting up fruit and vegetables by the wholesale,” she wrote F. B. Ransom, her attorney. “Tell Nettie she should see me know–am all dressed up in woman-alls, the feminine for overalls, and I am a full-fledged ‘farmerette.’
Also check out my other blog post about my search to find a connection between A’Lelia Walker and possible members of the Ringgold family at our Madam Walker and A’Lelia Walker Family Archives blog.