Depot exhibit marks beginning of Red Pepper celebration
SIKESTON - Did you know Red Peppers was founded by Pete Cunningham and Lottie Dover in 1928?
Or that until 1940-41, members had to be voted in to the organization which was limited to 50 girls?
How about the fact that 1962-63 was the last year Red Pepper initiation included being covered in things like molasses, flour, cracked eggs, mustard and ketchup?
There's a lot more behind Red Peppers than what's commonly known and it's all being revealed during the organization's 75th anniversary celebration which begins Sept. 6 with a display at the Sikeston Depot. The Depot display will be up through Oct. 28.
For months organizers have worked fast and furiously, interviewing Red Peppers from yesteryear and gathering every shred of information pertaining to the changes Red Peppers has seen over the past 75 years.
"The plans are coming together very well and I think everyone is going to enjoy the celebration," said Jane Anne Baker. "This past weekend was our set-up time at the Sikeston Depot. We do want to issue an invitation to all current Red Peppers to participate in this wonderful celebration of history for our city. Our earliest Red Peppers are our founders and our current Red Peppers are our future."
The display will have everything imaginable in it, from a list of the 21 charter members to Red Pepper memories that have been shared. Featured are photographs of Red Pepper dances and banquets and a couple of paddles from when Red Pepper initiation included being paddled as the girls crawled through a sea of legs. The items also include a replica of the first Red Pepper pants which featured four buttons down the front.
"I've talked to former Red Peppers in Texas, Indiana and Florida who've given me information," said Marilyn Grant. "I really think this display is going to be a lot of fun. There's lots of enthusiasm for it, I've had a lot of telephone calls. It's really coming along, I even have an article about the pep club dating back to 1927-28 before they wore red and black."
But there is still some information organizers would like to have such as when Red Pepper officers started wearing black pants and black sweaters. "And I'd love to know who designed the Red Pepper emblem they have now and where those emblems were bought," added Grant.
In addition to the display, activities scheduled during the anniversary celebration include having Red Peppers walk in the upcoming Cotton Carnival parade Sept. 28 while those representing the class of 1928-29 will be on a red wagon-shaped float.
"We ask that all past and present Red Peppers walk at the beginning of the parade," said Baker. "There will be another float available for riders and the class of 1962 is preparing a float. There are other classes that will be preparing floats, vehicles, wagons, etc. We would like to ask that all Red Peppers wear red and black."
Past or present Red Peppers who would like to be in the parade are asked to call Baker at 471-1753 and leave a message of what will be entered and approximately how many will be involved. The deadline is Sept. 24 to allow time to identify the amount of space needed.
From 1-5 p.m. Sept. 28 there will be a Red Pepper Tea at the Depot. "Please come to relive wonderful memories, renew friendships and make new friends," invited Baker.
"I'm just sorry that we do not have a football game to attend here in Sikeston," Baker added. "Sikeston will be playing Kennett that evening but if you want to get a group together and make the trip to Kennett that would be a fun outing."
Anyone with memorabilia or information regarding Red Pepper history is asked to call Baker by Friday.