Bittersweet Milestone For Monday Club

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By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, May 11, 2007

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]

HOMETOWN HISTORY -- Members of the Hampton Monday Club observed the organization’s 100th and final anniversary, honoring the slate of officers and presenting club treasures to the Hampton Historical Society / Tuck Museum. (Above) A cake cutting ceremony was conducted by (from left) Nancy Coes, vice president; Margaret Dennett, treasurer; Rosemarie Schwartz, past president; Karen Wilkins, corresponding secretary; and Kathy Traut, president. Not present for the photo was Betty Powell, treasurer. (Left) Traut is pictured with Betty Moore and Sammi Moe, who accepted the donations on behalf of the museum and HHS.
[Atlantic News Photos by Liz Premo]

(Editor’s Note: This is the first of two articles about the Hampton Monday Club, which after 100 years has come to an end.)

HAMPTON -- The best word to describe the official 100th anniversary celebration of the Hampton Monday Club was "bittersweet."

Indeed, that descriptive term was used in several instances when club members met for the final time at a centennial luncheon, held on May 7 at the Old Salt Restaurant.

The extensive program for the afternoon was filled with readings, comments from officers and members, introductions, remembrances and special presentations.

Kathy Traut, who has served as the club’s present for the past two years, offered a warm welcome to the members and guests gathered in the restaurant’s Goody Cole Room.

Following the presentation of corsages to past presidents of the club and an invocation offered by Rev. Deb Knowlton, everyone present enjoyed the luncheon. This was followed by the cutting of the centennial cake, decorated in the club’s official colors of green and gold.

The club’s newest member, Evelena Hewlett, shared her vocal talents by singing "Wind Beneath My Wings," and the group as a whole recited the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the reading of the officers’ annual reports.

While the occasion was described as "both a celebratory and a sad [one]," members were urged to maintain connections with one another in the future, in particular embarking upon familiar trip-and-a-meal excursions they were known to enjoy.

"All it takes to get one started is a telephone call or two," they were told.

Even a financial account was bittersweet.

"The scholarship fund is in great shape," said Traut, announcing that there was enough to fund six $300 scholarships to deserving girls graduating from Winnacunnet High School.

With a small amount of funds distributed elsewhere, she added, "this will close our treasury."

Addressing the room, Traut introduced a number of invited guests, including Ben and Betty Moore and Sammi Moe of the Hampton Historical Society/ Tuck Museum; Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce President, Doc Noel; and Lane Memorial Library Director, Catherine Redden.

"I know how active this group has been," said Ben Moore, a member of the NH House of Representatives and a Hampton selectman. He read an official proclamation issued and signed by the board of selectmen, offering "best wishes to all."

Speaking as an HHS member, however, Moore told the club with a chuckle that he had "been given the task of moving your records several times. They’re very heavy and very thorough."

Doc Noel offered thanks to the Monday Club "for a wonderful, wonderful job" with regard to their various around-town activities through the years. "We’re truly going to miss having you at our beach office," Noel said. "We wish you nothing but the best for your future."

A heartfelt "thank you" for the club’s $100 donation to the HHS barn raising project was offered by Sammi Moe, and Betty Moore hailed the club for their "sense of camaraderie and fellowship."

Observing that the Monday Club (organized in 1907 and federated in 1910) was the first woman’s group to meet at the Tuck Museum," she told her listeners, "You have left a legacy to the town in 100 years of scrapbooks and records (donated to the museum) that are so meticulous."

That meticulously-recorded material wasn’t the only gift the club presented to the Hampton Historical Society. Additional donations included a stunning silver service, silver spoons in a wooden chest, two china plates and cups, and a series of watercolor historical note cards painted by Bernice Palmer.

The gift-giving didn’t end there. The club presented its cabinet and key to Rev. Deb, who accepted on behalf of the Congregational Women’s Guild, and the president’s gavel and past president’s pin were given to Kathy Traut, who plans to donate them to the historical society as well. A gold eagle from the top of a full-size American flag was also given.

Gifts were exchanged between the club’s officers; Traut laughed when she read what was printed on the coffee mug she received: "I don’t remember signing up for this!"

The event concluded with Evelena Hewlett singing "Thank You," and a reading of "The Penalty of Love," a poem by Sydney Royse Lysaght.

The Monday Club’s "Collect for Clubwomen," adopted in 1917 and written by Mary Stewart, was also read aloud as a benediction by the group as a whole:

"Keep us, O God, from pettiness; let us be large in thought, in word, in deed. Let us be done with fault-finding and leave off self-seeking. May we put always all pretense and meet each other face-to-face — without self-pity and without prejudice. May we never be hasty in judgment and always generous. Let us take time for all things; make us to grow calm, serene, gentle. Teach us to put into action our better impulses, straightforward and unafraid. Grant that we may realize it is the little things that create differences; that in the big things of life we are at one. And may we strive to touch and to know the great common human heart of us all. And, oh Lord God, let us not forget to be kind."

"It’s the end of an era," commented Catherine Redden, who on behalf of Lane Library accepted the club’s flower-patterned china. "And it’s bittersweet to see it happen."

"All good things must come to an end," said Jean Power, "and this was a good thing."

Meeting Adjourned

Hampton Monday Club

By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, May 18, 2007

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]

(Editor’s Note: This is the second of two articles about the Hampton Monday Club, which after 100 years has come to an end.)

HAMPTON -- When members of the Hampton Monday Club gathered recently for their final meeting of the 2006-07 season, the occasion also marked a bittersweet milestone in the club’s 100-year existence.

Dwindling numbers necessitated the members to reluctantly make the sad decision in December 2006 to disband. So, under the leadership of their president, Kathy Traut, they agreed to use the occasion of the group’s centennial anniversary celebration to bring the Monday Club to a close.

Up until the end the club continued to hold regular meetings, schedule various teas and luncheons, stay completely involved in civic and community activities and plan special programs — for example, their recent Penny Sale held at the First Congregational Church.

It was during that particular event that member Betty Powell, who joined in 1998, noted that "It’s a very sad time. It’s heartbreaking to have to do this. We just don’t have enough members to serve."

The club’s final roster held the names of 32 members, in addition to the six who served as officers. Various lengths of membership over the decades are represented, with the newest member, Evelena Hewlett, joining just last year.

"I love it so much; I love the people," said Hewlett. "I’ve made a lot of friendships."

The Hampton Monday Club was first established in 1907, becoming a federated club in 1910 and a general federation member from 1935-94. Its initial small membership of 10 charter members began to grow, with their meetings held in one another’s homes (always on time, or there would be a nickel fine imposed on the latecomer). The original club constitution emphasized "the basis of membership being earnestness of purpose, love of truth and a desire to promote the best interests of humanity."

The club grew over the years, eventually numbering more than 100 members. They saw the 19th amendment pass, giving women the right to vote; helped save Mt. Kearsarge and its adjoining forest; dedicated scrapbooks to George Washington; and exchanged correspondence with the family of Thomas Edison. Members were involved in a large number of various community outreaches and philanthropic causes, providing steady contributions of money, time and talent.

They sponsored Girl Scouts, valiantly aided in the war effort, raised money to donate to numerous charities, assisted with Red Cross blood drives, held art shows, and installed a flagpole and an engraved granite stone at East End School Park on Winnacunnet Road. They presented annual scholarships to deserving girls on a fairly regular basis throughout the club’s existence, kept up with current events and responded accordingly.

The Monday Club also organized beautification projects and arranged to have benches installed around town, helped bring improvements to Hampton Beach, supported Hampton’s Victory Garden, delivered flowers to patients at Exeter Hospital, and donated winter hats, gloves and scarves to the Salvation Army.

These and many, many more deeds conducted by the Monday Club have been faithfully documented over the years, kept safe in many lovingly-kept volumes now donated to the Hampton Historical Society. In fact, the club’s entire history was compiled into a special 100th anniversary program which each member received at the final luncheon held in the Goody Cole Room at the Old Salt on May 7.

That program book was dedicated in memory of the late Fran Harvey, who joined in 1967 and served as president from 1970-72 as well as a co-president in 1989. Fran, who would have turned 90 on the day of the luncheon, was chairman of the Centennial Committee and had organized the group of volunteers who compiled the club’s history found within the program book. She passed away at age 89 on June 25, 2006; her daughter and granddaughter were present at the centennial celebration.

The Monday Club will be long remembered for its civic contribution over the decades, as well as for the dynamics of the devoted people behind it.

"It’s a seriously dedicated group of women working to improve their community and the lives of people living in Hampton," said Isabel Grasso, a member since 1992. She described her fellow "beloved members" as "very generous. They are really community-minded. If they see a need, they fill it. It’s a top-drawer organization."

Unfortunately, it is a top drawer that, once wide open will now remain closed, in light of the fact that membership had been dwindling and most members were unable to serve as officers and on committees.

"It was agreed," wrote Margaret Dennett, a member since 1973 who authored the account of the group’s final decade, "that the life of the Hampton Monday Club would come to an end with the Centennial May Luncheon."

"I feel sad about it disbanding," said Hewlett, noting that members are planning "to still keep in touch, and for that I’m so grateful."

Though the Hampton Monday Club will no longer meet, the organization’s documented history as well as some treasured donations (a silver tea service, the club’s gavel, and other items) have found a new home with the Hampton Historical Society and Tuck Museum. There, generations of future Hamptonites will have the opportunity to explore the club’s narrative of civic contributions and community service.

And, as members have frequently acknowledged over the past several months or so, it’s bittersweet indeed.

"I just feel bad it has to come to this end," commented Vivianne Marcotte, a member since 2003. "It’s been a lot of fun."

With the close of their 100th anniversary luncheon, amidst the well-wishes and hugs and promises to get together soon, was the final recitation of "A Collect for Clubwomen," as well as a poem by Sidney Royse Lysaght. Entitled "The Penalty of Love," the verse reads as follows:

If love should count you worthy, and should deign
One day to seek your door and be your guest,
Pause! Ere you draw the bolt and bid him rest,
If in your old content you would remain,
For not alone he enters; in his train
are angels of the mist, the lonely guest
Dreams of the unfulfilled and unpossessed,
And sorry, and Life's immemorial pain.
He wakes desires you never may forget,
He shows you stars you never saw before,
He makes you share with him, for evermore,
The burden of the world's divine regret.
How wise you were to open not! and yet,
How poor if you should turn him from the door!
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