We belong to several organizations around the town. We’re from that generation who joined things for entertainment. We had Scouts, Campfire Girls, 4-H, and church groups outside of school. Then there was Letter Club for the guys, Girls League for the girls, Masque and Dagger, FFA, FHA, Journalism and several other in-school groups. We didn’t have TV or computers so needed to find someway to expend the energy we had left over from daily chores, and also to salve our social needs. The best way in the world to get away from home for a few hours to see your friends, maybe even borrow the car, was to go to church youth group (and of course take your brother).
This inclination came from our parents who belonged to the Grange, Oddfellows, Eastern Star, Masons, Moose, Elks, PEO, and various card playing groups and/or hunting clubs, neighborhood women’s clubs and any other gathering of three or more people who could get together regularly. It was a time of socializing. One that the younger generations no longer understand, much to their detriment, in my opinion (or is that IMO?).
Everyone went to town on Saturday night in the summer. The kids would go to a movie, or maybe evening swimming. The parents used the time to shop, meet friends and enjoy a little adult time. We usually started home by 10 at the latest. That is unless there was a dance, and then it might be midnight. Saturday night dances at the Grange Hall were common, and all ages attended. A local group would supply the music: fiddle, guitars, piano, occasional vocal; they were fun get-togethers that don’t happen these days.
Any excuse to get together with friends and family was legitimate. Sunday dinner at Grandma’s, Saturday night card games at the cousins’, drop-in for coffee at the neighbor’s. And that doesn’t count the spur-of-the-moment bonfires, keggers, and ‘let’s go to the lake’ drives. I’m not sure when the inclination to join others ended. My older granddaughters, born in the early ’80s, were social, and still are. They belong to book clubs, girl groups, card nights, and other get-together functions. The younger ones, born in the late ’90s, not so much. Their phone is the connection. They know their friends’ names, phone numbers and social media aliases, but may not know where they live or who their parents are.
But, back to Me! These days we attend a meeting a week in the winter. A bunch of old people gather in a convenient meeting spot and rehash the last meeting and missing members. Business conducted usually involves money, spending it or making it. The spending is usually a scholarship or a memorial or a piece of equipment for some other entity. Making it, not so easy.
As mentioned earlier, the membership is OLD. We have all been around the block so many times we’ve worn a path. New ideas are lacking and the old ones are a little stale or require a lot of work no one wants to (or can?) undertake anymore. So organizations are fading. Many exist only as a token of what they once were. So-called service organizations can barely field enough members to maintain the title, let alone supply the activity they are famous for.
The youngest members these days are the Boomers (I am allowed to use that word because I am older). Gen Xers are peeking in, but only testing the waters. The antique membership scares them. When an organization does get some new, young members the old guys often pooh pooh their upstart ideas and turn them off immediately.
I guess we have to concede that the nearest thing to a Saturday night dance we are going to see these days is the Blue-Grass group at the Senior Center and we probably attended our last kegger about 1969. Time to convince the kids that unless they step up, the next scholarship may be the last, and the memorial bench for the hard-working homesteader turned community leader won’t be forthcoming because the old codgers running the world these days are just too darn tired to do it again and the Boomers are getting there.
We old members don’t think we are intimidating. The youngsters don’t know we find them a little scary. (Didn’t Jim Reeves have a song about “When two worlds collide”? and don’t you dare say “Who is Jim Reeves“!). It’s time we find some common ground to save one of the good parts of the old Society. Maybe show the youngsters that it’s easy to interact face to face and being social has its rewards.
Hey! We had to learn the internet and social media to do our banking, they can learn eye contact and polite conversation to continue a beneficial tradition.