Oct. 13 was not an unlucky day for members of Hillsboro Woman’s Club when they met at the Highland House Museum. Avery Applegate was the program speaker, and she kept club members laughing with her presentation on a long-departed local exotic dancer, Carrie Lee Finnell.
Twenty members and one guest were privileged to hear the story of this dancer, who later in life married Thomas J. Morris, a Fayetteville farmer. Although Carrie was born in Covington, Ky., she died in 1963 at the age of 63, and was buried here in Highland County. According to the speaker, Finnell had insured her legs for $1 million. She is also attributed to having invested the use of “tassels” by exotic dancers, and she could do anything imaginable with them, to tease her audience. She probably sewed her fabulous costumes herself in the early days, but after she became wealthy, she only designed them.
At one point in the presentation, the gaudily clad speaker lost a feather from one of her boas and said, extemporaneously: “That’s how I find my way home.”
The infamous entertainer, Finnell started her own nightclub to increase profits. At one point, she weighed nearly 300 pounds. As she got older and bigger, the speaker shared, she “also got funnier.” From the perception of today’s audience, the exotic dancer couldn’t have been any funnier than Applegate.
During the business session of the meeting, president Mary Todd Hardeman thanked the day’s hostess committee, Vicki Knauff, Donna Armstrong and Jean Wallis, who had made arrangements for the fall table decorations and the outstanding meal catered by Avery Elliott.
She reminded members of the club’s ruling, many years ago, whereby a member who makes a dinner reservation but fails to attend must pay the club treasury for the meal.
In other business, the projects committee, chaired by Toy Fender, and assisted by Virginia Purdy and Eleanor Williams, suggested that the club donate $100 each to the Highland County Humane Society, Samaritan Outreach and Soles For Students (which tries to provide shoes for needy students over all of Highland County). The motion to accept was made by Susan Parker, seconded by Maxine Kratzer and approved by the club. Additionally, it was agreed to decorate a Christmas tree for the Highland House Museum, as usual. Gretchen Huffman will attend to that project, assisted by Helen Ford, Maxine Kratzer and Pauline Cameron.
A memorial tribute to recently deceased member Jean Head had been prepared and was lovingly presented by her stepdaughter, Helen Ford.
Members departed the meeting still laughing, not only at the “exotic dancer” program and its hilarious presenter, but at a remark made by Hardeman, who reminded them that a “friend is someone who, when you make a fool of yourself, doesn’t think you’ve done a permanent job of it.”
Submitted by Gretchen Huffman.
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