When attending the funeral of Nadine Bennett in early February, I was charmed by the line in her obituary that the 94-year-old woman had been a member of “The Friendly Club.” That was a group of farm women who would get together in Bristol Township, northwest of Jefferson.
Such clubs flourished until about the mid-1980s. They offered a break from the isolation and loneliness many women battled in rural and small town life. Church work helped, but clubs gave additional opportunities for intellectual stimulation, charitable work and social life.
Many have faded into history. The once-powerful Jefferson Woman’s Club had a few hundred members, and for 50 years had its own clubhouse in a large residence northeast of the square. There were the Tri-T’s. The Soroptimists Club was for women in business.
The Rippey area had the “KYNB” Club (“Know Your Neighbor Better”) and the “GAB” Club (“Get Acquainted Better”). North of Scranton there was a Kendrick Kensington Club, named after the township and a London neighborhood remembered by early settlers with English roots. There was a “Brevity Club” in the Churdan area. Dana had the “Adana Club.” My own little community of Cooper had the Franklin Culture Club, the Sewing Club, the West Side Homemakers and the East Side Homemakers, with the homemakers’ dividing line the railroad tracks.
Actually, many women’s clubs are thriving today. The one that gets everybody’s attention is the “Naked Ladies Garden Club” in Grand Junction, named after the naked lady lily. They maintain several local gardens and planters, and are also active in community development. Their motto is “To improve the bio-psycho-social-spiritual life of Grand Junction residents through Earth-friendly actions and deeds.”
Since 1945, there’s been the “Happy Hour Club” of former neighbors in Dawson Township, west of Paton, “and we don’t even drink,” Helen Marshall told me. They have a motto, too: “It’s not the individual, nor the army as a whole, but the everlasting teamwork, of every bloomin’ soul.”
There is the “Paton Birthday Club.” The Adaza Thursday Club sponsors an “Adaza Picnic” every February (indoors) because they learned everybody is too busy in warmer weather. Churdan has the “G.A. Club” (“Get Acquainted”) meeting monthly since 1951.
Jefferson has two Friday Clubs, which trace to a founding in 1888. There are PEO chapters. Beta Tau Delta and Beta Sigma Phi are “sororities.” The “BPO Does” are more than just an auxiliary to the Elks. There are two Questers groups, with special interests in history and antiques, the “Greene Gallups” Questers in Jefferson and the “Heritage Seekers” Questers in Scranton. There are at least three women’s book clubs in Jefferson, and the so-far all-female poetry group “The First United Coven of Greene County.” There is an “Ingleside Club,” with that name coming from a Scottish term for a “fireside” reading room. There is a Culture Club and the Jefferson Garden Club. And there are undoubtedly others I’m sure to learn about soon.
The author of this story, Chuck Offenburger, is a member of the Greene County Historical Society board of directors and lives outside Cooper. You can write him at chuck@Offenburger.com.