Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mom Makes the Front Page in 1949

Before she and dad married, my mother Carolyn Shores did some modelling for Avondale Mills. Along with other young women, she appeared at various fashion shows and in newspaper advertisements. The photo below shows her on the left along with others at a show in early June, 1949. She was 19 years old.

That particular show took place in the Continental Room, a lunch, dinner and event space in Birmingham's Tutwiler Hotel. Back in August, 1937 that same room was used for the wedding reception of famed Alabama actress Tallulah Bankhead and actor John Emery after the marriage took place at her father's home in Jasper.

As noted on the masthead, the Avondale Sun was a newspaper for employees of all Avondale Mills and their families. Mom was the youngest child of Methodist minister John Miller Shores, and family members turn up in the paper several times in various contexts. I found an item in a 1934 issue noting mom among other children who had perfect attendance at kindergarten for the month of September. I've also found a notice of a luncheon hosted at the parsonage in Sylacauga by my grandmother Tempe, and various notes about aunts Heth and Marjorie. 

The Comer family had expanded the company into Sylacauga with the giant Eva Jane mill in 1913. The plant was named after the wife of founder B.B. Comer. In addition to the plant itself, the company also supported schools, churches and stores for employees. Unable to compete with overseas competition, the company and all its operations closed in 2006. The empty Eva Jane building burned in 2011.

The entire run of the Avondale Sun from 1924 until 2006 is available in Birmingham Public Library's Digital Collections.

Mom's modelling career didn't last long. After marriage, she and dad raised my brother Richard and me. Some forty years ago she began painting, first in oils but soon changing to watercolors. She is still at it; her art can be found at her web site and for sale on ArtFire and Etsy. She's on Pinterest too!

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