Club celebrates centennial

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Members of the Grand Meadow Country Club celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the group earlier this month. They are: top row—Lillian Schutte and Gwen Rekow; middle—Nancy Engelhardt, Karla Miene and Marge Stansberry; and front—Brenda Rekow. Not pictured: Emily Heying and Tina Meyer.

By Pat McTaggart

Freelance Writer

 

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the Grand Meadow Country Club (GMCC). However, the Country Club is not what one would normally associate with the name.

In the early 1900s in rural Iowa the term “farm wife” meant just that. The wife helped with the farm chores, cooked three meals a day, took care of the children and generally ran the farm household. There was little chance for interaction with other women except for church and the occasional visit to town.

On March 24, 1916, that changed for several women in Grand Meadow Township, which is located in the northwest corner of Clayton County. A group of 22 farmwomen banded together to from the GMCC with the intention of getting together twice a month on Thursday for meetings and interaction with their neighbors. The first meeting was to be a general meeting while the second meeting was a social gathering.

In its charter, the GMCC’s object was “to secure the highest condition of home life, to broaden the outlook of home and family, encourage social intercourse and to elevate the character of farm life to the end that the farm shall be the best in America and the most attractive to the coming generation.”

The ladies took their charter seriously. Each meeting opened with a scripture reading, followed by the Lord’s Prayer. After a “thought for the day” the business meeting began. Closing the meeting was marked by the Pledge of Allegiance. That same tradition is carried on by the club’s current members.

Social service was, and still is, a central part of the club. In 1920 the group “adopted” the Christian Orphan’s Home in Council Bluffs. In the beginning, the ladies sent eggs to the home. During World War II the club sent homemade children’s undergarments and woolen shirts to the home. The group still sends a donation of $100 every year.

There were a total of 28 ladies in the GMCC in the late 1920s, the highest number of members in the club’s history. Each new member had to be put to a vote before being accepted.

In 1930 the group voted to meet just once a month, but the enthusiasm for the gathering was still there.

During the winter months, the women would travel through deep snow on horse drawn sleds to attend the meetings. They would also bring their children with them. “It was something that they didn’t want to miss if at all possible,” said club member Emily Heying. “Most of our current members had mothers and grandmothers that were also members of the club.”

The group’s service to the community has continued through the years. Hospital shirts and pajamas were made and then sent to the Red Cross during World War II. The group has a record of community service that remains today.

“We have served at the Good Samartian Home, contributed to the Clayton County Food Bank and the schoolchildren’s fund, made food baskets for the elderly and quilts for the 4 Crosses Ranch and provided staff for Postville Days,” said Nancy Engelhardt. “We have also entertained at the Scenic Acres Home and have given gifts so that they could be re-gifted for the clients there.”

At the current time there are eight members of the club. They meet at a different member’s home each month, and sometimes go on a club trip to visit interesting area sites. “It’s hard to get new members now because women are now a part of the workforce,” Engelhardt said. “We are trying to keep this going as long as possible, and we would welcome any new members.”

Lillian Schutte is the longest serving living member in the club.  She has been a member for 53 years.

“We enjoy the conversation and the good meals when we meet, said Marge Stansberry, a former Grand Meadow Township resident who makes the drive from Cedar Rapids to attend the meeting every month, weather permitting. “It’s kind of one big family.”

 
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