Birthday Club: Celebrating 90 years of service and fun

By Peggy Stratton

Special to the Islands’ Weekly

Possibly the oldest club on Lopez Island, The Birthday Club, will be celebrating its 90th anniversary  May 17, 2 p.m. at Woodmen Hall, (previously scheduled for May 18 – note the change) with hostesses dressed in skirts or dresses with old-fashioned hats apropos of the attire worn by members of past generations. Edna Leidig, who plays the piano will be playing some rollicking old tunes and members who are so inclined can sing or hum along.

The club was formed as a philanthropic crafters group, making handmade gifts for birthdays and Christmas as well as making Thanksgiving baskets for those in need.  During the Great Depression when times were tough on Lopez, members were a great help to the community by providing layettes and supplies for new parents. Although the club is not a major fundraising organization, dues are now contributed to scholarships, memorial funds and other causes.

Many members became acquainted with The Birthday Club at a young age because their mothers and grandmothers were members. They and their mothers and grandmothers are the women who farmed, fished, raised food and families, helped others, and attended quilting bees and church and potlucks, and weathered storms and change.

The first meeting of The Birthday Club was held at the home of Mrs. John Tralnes at Mackaye Harbor in June of 1922 on her fiftieth birthday. The current president is her granddaughter Sister Judy Tralnes.

Members of the club are, for the most part, in their “prime,” as Miss Jean Brodie would have said. They are mature women, certain of their past, certain of their place in the world and their ability to do what needs to be done. They are the women who smooth the flow of daily life and who carry on the tradition of helping their neighbors  and community.

At each meeting of the Birthday Club, members whose birthdays fall in that month must pay dues in the amount of one penny for each year they are celebrating, dropping coins into “the policeman,” a tin bank as old as the club. These are women who are proud to proclaim their years on this earth. Further funds are collected by donating small amounts in answer to creative  questions. An example would be: Put a quarter in the basket for every note to yourself you have in your purse.

Monthly meetings of the Birthday Club are held on the third Friday of each month at 1:30 p.m. at Woodmen Hall.  Prospective members are welcome to join in the fun and enjoy a scrumptious dessert.

– Excerpts from Leta Currie-Marshall’s article celebrating 75 years appears in the above text.