Medina’s Tuesday Club has been mainstay for 120 years

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Members of Medina’s Tuesday Club are shown at their April meeting at the home of Nelda Toussaint of Medina. Seated in front, from left, are Nelda Toussaint, treasurer Sandy Thaine, Sue Dydo, secretary Bonnie Heck, Lorraine Root and president Kathie Valley. Standing at right is Ann McElwee. The club has been in existence for 120 years.

Posted 7 May 2018 at 10:31 am

‘We’re a very eclectic group of women’ – member Pat Payne

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent

MEDINA – In a time when social organizations are losing members, some even closing, a Medina club has maintained its membership for more than a century.

Although 120 years old, the Medina Tuesday Club hasn’t deviated much from the traditions established when the club was formed.

The Tuesday Club’s roots go even farther back, having sprung out of what was called the Fortnightly Culture Club, organized in 1891 for the purpose of reading about and presenting at each meeting papers on American history, literature and travel.

An 1897 souvenir edition of the Medina Tribune states, “Such is the interest in the work that it is a rare exception if a paper is not presented when expected.”

In 1894, the FNCC joined the New York State Federation of Women’s Clubs and Societies as charter members, and later the Western Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Pat Kennedy, a member of the Tuesday Club, reads a review of her assigned book, John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, during the April meeting.

The Tuesday Club, as it is known today, first met on Oct. 10, 1898 at the home of Mrs. Earl Card (the married women were all known by their husband’s names). They had yet to decide on a name for their new club. There were 16 ladies in attendance, several of whom had been members of the FNCC.

They finally decided on the name, “Tuesday Evening Reading Club,” with membership limited to 30. Dues were 25 cents.

A history of the club was compiled in 1949 for the 50th anniversary, in which it says a fee of 5 cents was imposed on members who were absent without an excuse, such as illness or out of town. There were few social activities, as it was difficult to do much on 25-cent dues.

The name was changed to the Tuesday Reading Club in 1903. At the last meeting of 1905, it was voted to omit “Reading” from the name of the club, as it had become a study club.

Previously, a waiting list had been maintained with names of candidates for membership, but it was voted in January 1906 to abolish the list. In the future, names of possible new members would be handed to a committee who would recommend which names should be asked to join. Today, a woman must be asked to join.

In the beginning, they met twice a month, but decided in the late 1950s to discontinue the second meeting of the month, except for October and April. Special events include a Calendar Lunch in October, Christmas party in December and banquet in May. The club today does not meet in June, July or August.

Throughout the years, the club has had entertainment at their meetings, put on plays and invited guest speakers, all focusing on a subject chosen by the program committee for that year.

Today, programs have been simplified, with book reviews replacing individually researched papers, debates and round-table discussions. Since the 1990s, meetings have been held in member’s homes, rather than schools, churches or other public places.

Some years ago, it was decided they would not have desserts at their meetings, so as to eliminate the possibility of one hostess trying to outdo another. Their format now is to have one book review, and then break for 15 minutes for water and nuts. Then the second half is devoted to the second book review.

The club today has 24 regular members, five associate members and four honorary members, one of whom is Joyce Beatenbough of Lyndonville. Having joined in 1958, Beatenbough is the longest standing member. Other honorary members are Lil Hagood (1977), Arden Dick (1987) and Ann Perkins (1991).

To celebrate their anniversary this year, two members each month have been looking back through the club history and selecting a year to review.

Nelda Toussaint of Medina joined in 1978, because she had two little kids and it was a wonderful way to get out of the house, she said.

“It offered a cultural evening and no extra duties went along with it,” Toussaint said. “It is an organization full of tradition.”

Jan McCloy of Medina said she joined in 2004 because it was an interesting thing to do.

Pat Payne of Medina said she likes the diversity of people in the club.

“If you look around the room, you see a variety of occupations, ages and backgrounds,” she said. “We’re a very eclectic group of women.”

Each year, a program committee decides on a theme for the year, and Lee-Whedon Memorial Library director Catherine Cooper, also a member, helps get the books to go along with the theme.

Rarely does someone get asked to review a book they don’t like.

“Once, I had to read a book on the World Bank and it was so boring, but I got through it,” Lorraine Root said. “If you really didn’t like a book, I think they might give you another.”

Kathie Valley, club president, said presentations are always high quality, very well given and interesting.

The club has always been philanthropic and uses its dues to make a donation to a worthy cause at Christmas time.

Current officers are Kathie Valley, president; Pam Maryjanowski, vice president; Bonnie Heck, secretary; and Sandy Thaine, treasurer.

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