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Blue Mound Sunshine Club calls it quits after 82 years

by Clarke Davis

The Blue Mound Sunshine Club has stopped meeting after 82 years. The record books are being turned over to the Valley Falls Historical Society.

The club first met Jan. 24, 1928, and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1978.

The club still held meetings through 2009, but in 2010 the members stopped holding formal meetings and went out to eat together, reports Norma Jean Mason, president for the past few years.

Advancing years and health problems for the remaining members made it too difficult to continue this year, she said.

The club’s treasury was depleted by giving $100 scholarships for a trade school to two graduating senior girls.

“The remaining balance went to the swimming pool,” Mason said.

Mason was born in 1936 and said her mother joined the club shortly after that. Norma Jean grew up in the club and was a member her entire adult life.

Carrying the motto, “To radiate sunshine,” the club members joined for the purpose of “developing our literary talents, further and better our knowledge . . . and to assist each other in various ways . . .”

The community consisted of the area south of Valley Falls defined by a school district and Grange No. 1458.

The first meeting of the club was reported in the Vindicator when several women met at the home of Mrs. O.G. Campbell and “sewed blocks of bleached muslin and buff Peter Pan” for a “Rocky Road to California” quilt for the hostess. Before the work was complete, the women stopped and organized the club.

All women were invited to attend and join the club — in or outside of the district — but they must eat a full meal before leaving home as no refreshments were to be served at those club meetings.

The lack of refreshments changed at some point when a hostess “just happened” to bake a cake. The tradition continued as the minutes reflect. The May 17, 1983, minutes state, “Hazel [Brumfield] served delicious refreshments of white cake topped with strawberries and whip cream, nuts and ice tea.”

Some of the chores a hostess might have besides quilting in those early days were tying comforters, stemming gooseberries, shelling peas, picking out walnuts meats, etc.

There were 20 charter members. Three still living on the golden anniversary were Mae Means, Ozawkie, Bessie Trimble, Meriden, and Mabel Lassiter Coons, Niles, Mich.

There were 12 members on the golden anniversary and they had quit shelling peas. They would make a quilt for a needy family or to sell to earn money for various charities such as Capper’s and polio, cancer, and heart funds.

Under Article VI of the bylaws the business meeting was to be called at 2:15 p.m. and “During the business meeting, all work shall be laid aside and no conversation whatever shall be carried on.”

Dues the first year were $1 to be used for entertainment, gifts, and flowers. According to Article IX, the club was to hold a stork shower for a first child and buy a gift thereafter. It was to hold a bridal shower for a member’s daughter and buy a wedding gift for a son.

Each member, under Article XI, was to live up to the club’s name, Sunshine, and “to use her influence to keep out all gossip.”

The minutes of the 1980s reflect that the club members met regularly at Sunset Haven and spent their time quilting. They bought wedding and baby gifts and held bake sales to replenish the treasury, which usually carried a balance around $200.

The membership roster in 2007 listed the following: Iola Armstead, LaFurn Colhouer, Judy Davis, Arlene Gier, Rosie Gier, Betty Hazzard, Mary Irwin, Gerldine Langston, Norma Mason, Gerry Metzger, and Marjorie Schoonover.

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