Dr. Richard Matthew Fletcher - C, A Vintage Vignette

From HHC
Jump to: navigation, search

Dr. Richard Matthew Fletcher - C
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
January 2, 2009

Octavia Fletcher Frazier moved from Madison to Birmingham after she married dentist John Eadens Frazier in 1898. When Octavia was in her ninetieth year (1964), her 36-page biography about her father was printed by the family. The biography contains a story of Octavia’s continued relationships with the black families of Madison, who had served her father’s family here. As she related, “The first time I returned home after my first daughter was born, I did not take a nurse, for I knew I could get a good one at Madison. Father had engaged Lou Collier, a Negro girl of about seventeen. She was easy on the eyes, with her beautiful teeth and glistening brown eyes, a neat figure and a happy disposition. By the time I was ready to return, Lou insisted she could not let ‘her baby’ go without her. ‘Go home’, I told her, ‘and ask your Mother if you can go to Birmingham with me. Tell her to send you with me, and I will send her your salary – and I’ll dress you.’ Overjoyed, she ran home. She nursed for me for four years. Whenever we went to Madison, Lou had a steady beau named George. She often confided that George wanted to marry her, ‘But,’ she said, ‘I’d rather live with you.’”

“That last summer I noticed Lou taking the baby often to the stile where she talked to George, but she did not seem happy.”

“One day she said, ‘Mrs. Frazier, I don’t know what to do. George told me last night if I didn’t marry him, he was going to marry Lizzie.’”

“I said, ‘Lou, you have been going with George for a long time, but you say you are not in love with him – you should know.’”

“’No’m, I didn’t think I was, but since I seen how Lizzie runs after him – and she done tole’ folks she’s goin’ to marry him, I feels different, kind of flustered – I guess I must be in love with him, ‘cause I sho’ ain’t goin’ to let Lizzie have him.’”

“After this speech, I knew she was in love with George. ‘Tell him tonight,’ I told her, ‘that you will marry him – and I’ll stay up (in Madison) two weeks and give you your wedding dress. You can have the wedding in the Church (the Methodist Church on Church Street in Madison, where the Fletcher family worshipped) and Uncle Dick will perform the ceremony. Tell your Mother to come up here and we’ll have a reception. I’ll help you, but you tell George he has to buy you a bridal bouquet.’”

“What a wedding we pulled off! Veil and everything. George provided the flowers. As a matter of fact, he asked me to select them so he would be sure and have the right thing. Everybody, black and white was there, except – Lizzie. She left town.”

“It was the following summer that Lou told me she was going to have a baby and she was scared to death. She beseeched me to tell Dr. Fletcher not to let her die. When the time for her delivery came, the “wet nurse” was with her, and I assured Lou that Papa would be there whenever she sent for him.”

“She sent George, and he was much perturbed. He said, ‘Them women ain’t treating Lou right. They got her sitting over smoking chicken feathers.’”

“When Father arrived he demanded to know the purpose of the smoldering chicken feathers. It was believed in Negro circles that this would make the baby come quicker. Father had them give Lou a sterilized bath, and in due time the nine pound boy was born. They named him Frazier.”

In addition to the naming honor bestowed by Lou upon Octavia, another indication of their mutual esteem came later. George died four years after his son’s birth. Lou married Henry after another year. The Fraziers employed Lou as a cook and Henry as a butler for a time. When Lou and Henry left for other work, Octavia wrote “… so we let them go, Lou and I brushing away tears.”

Personal tools