It was lights out in more ways than one when the Jefferson Ruritan Club 626 held its 50-year anniversary dinner at the New Somerset United Methodist Church on March 12.
Along with celebrating the anniversary of being in the business of helping others in the community for 50 years, there was the sad announcement that the remaining few members were saying goodbye to the organization. "There just aren't enough of us to carry on," Donald Clarke, president, said.
But an even bigger shock happened as those gathered to share the dinner walked into the basement social room of the church. It was quite dark with the exception of about 12 candles lined up in the middle of the tables, along with one lantern.
LONGTIME MEMBERS — There were 120 combined years of membership in the three longest serving members at the Jefferson Ruritan 50-year dinner. Those members are, from left, Lester Grimes, 49 years; Warner Sanders, 37 years; and Fred Ramsey, 34 years.
-- Esther McCoy
OFFER REVIEW — Maynard Yoh, Ruritan National, Ohio district treasurer of Smithville, joins Don Clarke, president, at the podium to enumerate on the many activities and projects conducted by the club over its 50-year history.
-- Esther McCoy
The storm was trying to warn those who came out in the weather to just go home and listen to the wind whistle through the windows. Blowing with great strength, it had taken out the electric power in a portion of the area and that included the church.
Bill Cable apparently had heard about the black-out and brought along a flashlight, and a few battery-lanterns were rounded up to illuminate the room a bit. I got a lantern beside me so I could see to write. It is hard to stay in the lines otherwise.
The women of New Somerset church who were preparing the meal thought they might be sending "not-quite-done" ham loaf, scalloped potatoes and green beans home in carry-out cartons so they could be finished at home. But by the time all had arrived, the food was cooked so we got to dine on the above mentioned foods, along with the applesauce, coleslaw, rolls and pie that would have been the sit-down dinner. No one explained, but the kitchen must have a gas stove among its culinary appliances. The women deserve a reward for working in the dark, without heat and serving people they could barely see in the dining room.
I managed to get a piece of delicious peanut butter pie. I think it was the last one. But there were many other great choices.
While waiting for the women to get the food into serving bowls, the Rev. Robert Meyer entertained with a few tales and then promptly started in singing a song other than "America," which he was supposed to be singing.
A cinnamon-colored bear almost as tall as me was donated to Joe Smith, president of the Stanton Ruritan Club. Rudy wouldn't have a home with the Jefferson Ruritan anymore, and it was felt that he should go where he could see good deeds being continued. Little Rudy bears were donated to children in accidents or calamities in years past.
Don Clark, who gave the welcome, said the Stanton group had started in 1978, and its parent club was the Jefferson Ruritans. Clark said he was president his first year at that time, and Les Grimes took him under his wing to show him the ropes. Bill Crawford was the other one. He was the founder of the Jefferson group.
It was explained that any of the Jefferson club wanting to do so, could transfer to the Stanton or Irondale clubs. Eugene Sapp was the last charter member of the club.
Howard Shepherd, a member of the East Springfield Ruritans, was present at the dinner, and it was told about his coming to the concession stand at the Toronto Arts Festival and making icy cones all day each of the two days. Bill and Marsha Cable, who welcomed the club for its annual August picnic each year at Austin Lake, were thanked for their generosity.
John Corrigan, county clerk of courts, and his wife, Sandy, were guests, along with Maynard Yoh.
John Domenick of Smithfield was the keynote speaker. Regarding the demise of the club he told his listeners that their club stood for something.
"You members went where your mind and soul wanted you to go to do good for others. It's not the end. It is a transition period - look back at all the accomplishments you made," he said
Domenick thanked his wife, Martha, for the areas in life that he traveled. "God bless her. She has put up with so much."
He asked the audience if they encountered things that bothered them. He listed his pet peeves, and they included the following:
-- People who go to the store in their pajamas.
-- People who leave their carts outside after emptying groceries into the car.
-- People who use the BlueTooth or other cell phones. "They will be talking, and I turn and speak, and they say they are not talking to me."
-- People who do not smile or say thanks when someone holds the door open for them.
-- People who will not listen to the troubles of others. "Even if you can't help, you can at least listen."
-- People who will not look you in the eye when you are talking to them.
Domenick pointed out the grandchildren of member Fred Ramsey who were at the dinner. He congratulated them for looking him in the eye and speaking.
He talked about needing prayer at the opening of each committee meeting while in political office and how it came to be. "I stood for what I believed in, and it came to pass," he said.
Working with the Easter Seal program for many years, he announced that it is the No. 1 best organization in the nation. The Easter Seal Telethon is the first per capita station in Ohio for donations and fifth nationally.
In his report, Grimes wrote that what once was a mighty star shining within two communities has now faded to the point of being unseen. The remaining members must remember that the sad fact is they too are fading away and those who follow do not have an interest.
Maynard Yoh, who was recently elected national director, congratulated the club for 50 years of fine service.
The Country Classics 4-H Club members have been coming to their club meetings an hour early and making tied blankets for Project Linus and the American Red Cross for those who lost their belongings in a disaster. They made 19 of the fringed blankets as a community project.
They are in pastel colors and prints and nice and fuzzy to keep you warm on a cold night or when wrapped up in a chair to read a book.
Two of the blankets will go to a fundraiser to help Susie Metler, a friend of the Valentine family, who are 4-H members. She was in a sledding accident that left her a quadrapalegic.
Allison Lamantia is the news reporter, and we are getting to be old friends from the calls I make to ask her questions on the work they are doing.
All the clubs are doing so much good for the community. I have so much admiration for the 4-H organization and the great youth who take part and become wonderful citizens as a result.
(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is food editor and a staff columnist for the Herald-Star and the Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)