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Notes from the Paynesville Historical Society. . .

Booklover's Club urges need for good reading
By Courtney Karsch

Booklovers Club "He who does not advance loses ground," was the motto for a group of Paynesville women who called themselves, The Booklover's Club. These women organized a reading club on Jan. 7, 1906, in the home of Mrs. Frank Tolman. Its name, "The Booklover's Club" really exemplified the character of its members and their need to stress upon the cultural value of good reading and good books.

The very first book that was chosen to be read was, "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Among the members of the club in 1906 pictured here were: Mrs. Barrie, Lila Nehring, Pearl Merriman, Mrs. Abbott, Alice Barrie, Rhoda Nehring, Mrs. Tolman, Mrs. Evans, Ethel Van Vorst, Minnie McClouth, Jess Chisholm, Grace Peterson, Mrs. Lockerby, Nellie Barrie, Hazel Boylan, Mrs. Boobar, Kate Abbott, Hazel Seary, and Alice Chisholm.

Although their love for books was endless, the club ladies limited their membership to 25 women.

The Booklover's Club became a member of the State Federation of Women's Clubs in 1910 after submitting their constitution and by-laws. They also had to pay a total of $3 in annual fees. The club also became a member of the district federation in 1913 and the county federation in 1922.

First officers were Mrs. Frank Tolman, president; Mrs. E.E. Lockerby, vice president; and Mrs. George Putney, secretary/treasurer.

Each club member was responsible for the part that was assigned to her on the program and if she was unable to prepare it or attend, she was to supply a substitute. During the first year, their meetings were held weekly. During 1935 and 1936, the club met at the local library but later took turns holding the meetings in each others homes.

Early in their work, the women realized that as an organization, they were interested in more of Paynesville's needs rather than just women's culture. One of their projects was a library for the village, which is where they held some of their meetings.

In the 1930s, their typical meetings consisted of music, reading, and acting out plays.They would also discuss current events, book reviews, and the study of other countries.

Not only was the club an interesting group of women, they were also very giving. Over the years, the club donated funds to the Boy Scouts, Red Cross, the Sister Kenny Institute, Indian Welfare Fund, Penny Art Fund, Eyes for the Needy, the Paynesville High School Band calendar, and other worthwhile organizations. They also wanted to be more involved in the school system. In 1970, the club assisted the Junior Jaycee ladies in carrying a summer story hour for the preschool children at the library. Over time, they have studied the branches of government, the United Nations, the privileges, responsibilities, and duties as citizens to vote in elections, watched slides, films, and listened to travelogues.

The club was still in existence in 1985 and they probably viewed, reviewed, read, and discussed thousands of books. Over the years, the various club ladies have learned and enriched their lives by being members of the club.

I personally praise these dedicated women. Not only were they dedicated to themselves and each other, but to their community. They enlightened lives and many people probably never realized the wonders these women created.