Born in the coal fields of Strunk, Kentucky, Audrey Aline Messer Wickman first visited the West at twelve years of age. She moved to western Colorado to help in her grandparents’ home for a couple of years. The stay made a lasting impression because she only returned to her birthplace for a short time after that. In Colorado, she graduated from high school, met her future husband, and married in 1925. They came to southern Nevada in 1932 so that Robert Wickman could find work on Hoover Dam.
Audrey Wickman joined the Mesquite Club in 1936 and has remained a member to date. She started the Literary Committee as a forum to share book reviews and hear speakers. She served as President of the club for 1947-48 and chose the year’s theme “Know your Neighbor.” In the post-war society, women’s involvement in civic affairs was particularly needed, she told the membership at the opening fall meeting. “The troubles which unsettle the world today are primarily ones which lie within the sphere of women’s business. They are matters of housekeeping, teaching and health. . . . The time has come when we as a nation cannot stay in our own backyards. . . . If we are to be good world citizens, local, state and national, we must first be good home citizens. These responsibilities call for knowledge, an appreciation of other points of view, and attitudes of good will and cooperation.” (Las Vegas Review Journal, 6 October 1947, Mesquite Club microfilm collection.)
The duties of the president varied during those years. She recalled that “I was janitor, gardener and President.” During the wintertime, she remembered, “you had to have heat [for Friday’s meeting] and I’d go up on Thursday afternoon and light that old oil burning stove and then pray that it didn’t catch the place on fire all night.” She continued her commitment to club work by serving as state secretary for the Nevada Federation of Women’s Clubs. The friendships and cultural events which came from Mesquite Club and Federation membership proved to be of lasting value for this community builder. Audrey Wickman’s oral history was collected as part of the series on women community builders.
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