Sundae Dishes and Monday Visitors: Entertaining at Andalusia

Southerners, historically, have a reputation for entertaining. From the days of Gone With the Wind to ‘50s postwar prosperity, Georgians have always placed high value on hosting guests to the best of their ability. Flannery and her family were no different.

The various types of sundae dishes, in the Andalusia Collection (2018.1.796-798).

This large set of sundae dishes is just one of many housed at Andalusia. While we have no direct record of their use, the fact that the O’Connors owned multiple sets is testament to their love of entertaining. Although we can’t be sure if the three sets of glassware speak more to Flannery’s love of ice cream or entertaining, we have plenty of evidence that she loved guests.

Flannery was known to receive guests frequently or as her health permitted. She invited friends to “come over and fish any time,” “[take] in the architecture,” or simply to “have supper” with her.[1] While she might not have been one for cooking, Flannery enjoyed a cocktail every once in a while.

Steel Martini Set (Andalusia Collection 2018.1. 260).

Visiting with Flannery was always an experience. If you weren’t being menaced by peafowl or beset by insects, you could be sure to meet an interesting character.[2] Notable visitors to Andalusia included Maurice Coindreau, Flannery’s French translator, and Claudio Gorlier, an Italian writer and critic.[3] In The Habit of Being, Flannery recounts a visit from an Irish delegate in which she probed her with questions about the unrest in her country.[4]

Entertaining wasn’t always easy, however. The O’Connors “had no idea what [they’d] do with an elderly Frenchman for three days” when the translator came to stay (no worries, he “amused himself taking pictures of the peafowl).[5] The Italian visitor discussed Church politics around the supper table (always a faux pas), and when Flannery hosted a church get-together, she had to air out the entertaining parlor to “get the stinking cigarette smell out of it.”[6]

Still, receiving guests was a great joy in Flannery’s life. She spent many afternoons conversing on the front porch or writing letters inviting her friends to stay with her. While this is a luxury we’re not able to enjoy right now, we can channel Flannery’s spirit by sharing a sundae with those close to us.

[1] Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being (New York, NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999), 81 and 222.

[2] O’Connor, 81.

[3] O’Connor, 327 and 503.

[4] O’Connor, 262.

[5] O’Connor, 327.

[6] O’Connor, 262.

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