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Friday, February 10, 2012

Rotary, Spaghetti, and Splendid Americana

I went to a Rotary luncheon on Thursday. The last time I was at a Rotary lunch was about 30 years ago when I was a reporter and covered one for my paper. I don't actually remember much about the decades' ago event. The lunch this week, which I believe I'll remember for a long time, was steeped in Americana, a description I use with utmost respect.

There were maybe 30 Rotarians in a cordoned-off room at a local restaurant. Rotary insignias hung in strategic locations, insignias I was told represent visitors from other chapters. There was also draping and official name badges and a bell that was rung periodically for reasons I couldn't quite determine, but which was charming and brought forth some laughs. After lunch, the meeting was kicked off with all of us standing and saying the Pledge of Allegiance (I'm thinking the last time I said the P-of-A in a group of people was 45 years ago, with grade school classmates). We then sang God Bless America, and after bowing our heads for a short prayer were off and running.

Rotary has always been a staple in my town, a part of life here that people probably don't think about much but would surely miss if it was gone. And I learned a few things today that I didn't know. I was aware that Rotary sponsors our Music in the Park event during the summer. What I didn't realize is that Rotary has as part of its mission statement stamping out polio, which still exists in third world countries. I also learned that our Rotarians sponsor local foreign exchange students. In fact, the speaker this week was the sheriff from a neighboring county, whose daughter is in Denmark thanks to the very Rotarians with whom I was enjoying fish and salad. Before his presentation, the sheriff gave a nice report about how she's doing followed by a heartfelt thank you for Rotary's part in his daughter's continuing education in another part of the world.

I was at the Rotary lunch on Thursday as a guest, and as such was reminded how really special service organizations are to small towns like mine. These groups offer important though often behind-the-scenes contributions that we all take for granted. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm happy to know that every week this particular group of people meets, has a bite to eat, plans projects, and takes time out of busy lives to quietly weave much-needed threads in the fabric of our community.

(By the way, Rotary is hosting a spaghetti supper soon. Their flier is below. Why not stop on down and show this fine organization some support.)


Rocky said...

Who's cooking, and will they do al dente?

Liz from Arkansas said...

May I reprint this for our Rotary newsletter? I am its editor and producer and my club would love your piece. Rotary is a great organization with fun conventions and terrific people. We all work toward project goals, with polio as a primary. We also work to make water safe throughout the world. Literacy is a key goal too—and every club has to do a literacy project each year, whether it is reading to school children, delivering dictionaries or thesauruses, or whatever the club determines.

Kathleen Yasas said...

Dear Liz: Feel free. And Rocky: Maybe you should volunteer to cook if you're so fussy about pasta texture!

barb marso said...

My grandfather was a charter member of the Sherburne Rotary and some of my fondest childhood memories involve Rotary functions. The Christmas party for children and grandchildren of the Rotarians was held at the Sherburne Inn every year. I remember always feeling so grown up going to the Inn with Grandpa! And there was a huge rummage sale and auction every summer...I bought a puppy once (much to my father's dismay!) and purchased my entire "off the college" wardrobe there many years after the puppy (also to my father's dismay, I'm afraid!).

Rocky said...

I joined back in the late 70's or early 80's, gently drafted in as a third hand of my boss, who was establishing himself at the time as one of the best and most energetic building contractors in the area. I particularly remember the construction of the #2 pavilion in Paddleford park, Webby drilling the post holes with a big auger while Boss and I assisted w/ line up and shovel work, and of course, the morning of the "raising", when a couple of the big roosters got into a brief but spirited debate regarding the absence of a critical material component, willingness to proceed, and willingness not to proceed. The bell ringing you heard at the beginning of your meeting may have had to do with "fines". This rite was a mainstay when I was a member, with token fines being levied at the outset of every meeting, for equally token and often hilarious offenses. It was sort of like a mini roast with multiple targets. I seem to remember that any new haircut, or lack thereof, was fair game for a fine, and as Rotary in those days did not allow women, some of the joking may have been of a more ribald nature. Always a good time...there is a fantastic photo of a 60's era Rotary club near the service desk at the Big M. Many legendary community leaders in that one!

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Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: ...And I Breathed (author, Jason Garner, former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation), "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum