Don’t worry if your Cajun French is rusty: “laissez les bon temps rouler” (pronounced “Lay-say le bon tom roo-lay”) just means “let the good times roll.” Now you know.
A 73-year-old ladies club in Franklin County aims to do just that: “Let the Bon Temps Roll.”
Founded in 1947, the local Bon Temps organization for young women is flourishing now under the leadership of President Brandi Scott, a sixth-grade teacher at North Middle School by day and a hard-working club president the rest of the time.
It’s also easier when your treasurer, in this case Rachel Shields, is also a teacher in the classroom next door.
“I had some friends in Bon Temps when I came here,” she says. “I was not married at the time and wanted to get involved. I had heard stories about Bon Temps from my Aunt Joan (Stockton) who said there was great support, it was fun, and helped with being a mother and a woman.”
The story is similar to those of young women since the club’s founding in 1947. Ladies like Linda Fernander, also a lifelong educator, and even Iris Rudder have been members before. Generally, it has always been a mix of working and stay-at-home moms.
“We had a lot of fun, and once chartered a bus to go to Nashville to see Tom Jones when he was in his prime,” recalled Fernander recently. “Each year, we put on the Crimson Clover Ball at Sewanee and sponsored dances and parties at the old National Guard Armory and other places.”
The Sewanee event is now called the September Soiree and will be held at The Livery in Downtown Winchester. Old habits die hard.
“Some things have changed, and some have stayed the same,” Scott said.
The purpose of Bon Temps is for the intellectual and social advancement of its members, and for the good of the community, according to their statement.
The club colors are those of the rainbow, the carnation is the flower, and their motto is “to preserve the ideals of American womanhood.”
“It’s a social club, sure,” Scott said. “But we are doing things for the community. There’s the Mother/Son Dance at First United Methodist Church, which is a fundraiser for Campora Center. Tickets are available at Hall’s Furniture, on our Facebook page or from any of our 36 members.”
There is also a White Elephant party, bunco card games, a Halloween party and crafting, all of which raise money for charities including Campora Center and Isaiah 1:17 House.
The club most recently held a White Elephant-style fundraiser to raise money for scholarships for deserving girls at Franklin County and Huntland high schools.
The home of Vice President Camille Stewart on Country Club Lane was filled with almost all of the 36 members enjoying potluck food dishes which overflowed from her kitchen into the rest of the house.
Scott said that the current club has not forgotten the past.
“We are trying to locate scrapbooks that we know were out there at one time, but we have not been able to find any. We would like to display historical items from previous Bon Temps members at our alumni mixer in August,” she said.
Cost of membership is $75 for new members and $60 for returning members.
“Most members stay around an average of five to seven years,” Scott said.
As the younger generation takes the reins, you can be sure the good times will still roll on in Franklin County.