100th Birthday Club bash is August 14

Submitted by the Lopez Historical Society and Museum.

Back in 1921, at the Lopez farmhouse that is now the Mackaye Harbor Inn, Sanna Tralnes and nine of her South End friends, celebrated her 50th birthday with a vow to continue to meet regularly and support families in times of need. 100 years later, (with a one-year pandemic delay) the Lopez History Museum will celebrate the centennial of what became known as the Birthday Club on Sunday August 14 on the Museum grounds with a picnic, music and old-fashioned children’s’ games including the famous Lopez live chicken race.

“It’s remarkable that the Birthday Club has been around for 100 years,” said Amy Frost, Director of the History Museum. “When we were approached about helping them celebrate their centennial, our answer was a resounding ‘Yes!’”

Ginger Lowell, the Museum’s Collections Manager, said the club started out as a “mutual aid society” whose members sewed quilts, clothing, layettes for new mothers and collected food and other supplies for families facing hardships.

“If someone’s house burned down, they’d help resupply the family,” Lowell said. She noted that the museum has a decade’s worth of Birthday Club minutes from 1938 through 1948 which includes some of their activities. Members rolled bandages and raised money for the Red Cross during World War II, Lowell said. They also held an annual December bazaar whose proceeds went to different charitable causes.

Lowell said the group met monthly and whoever’s birthday fell in that month, put the number of pennies equal to their age. She said except for a brief time-out during the pandemic, the Birthday Club has continued to meet and hold programs.

The 100th birthday bash is being combined this year with the History Museum’s annual picnic and will feature music, refreshments and old-fashioned games including gunny sack races, egg on a spoon races and live chicken races. The picnic will run from 1:30-4 p.m. with cake served at 3.

Sally Tralnes Stine, whose grandmother was a charter member of the Birthday Club, said it was formed at a time when the island population wasn’t more than about 500 people and few owned cars. The South End, she said, was one of three distinct areas of Lopez, along with Pt. Stanley and Lopez, (now The Village), each with its own school and social life.

“The joke was you needed a passport to visit the South End,” she said.

Her cousin, Carol Tralnes Meagher, who grew up in the old farmhouse, said she wasn’t surprised that her grandmother helped found the club.

“She was outgoing, a hard worker and she had a big house. She was always having people in. But it wasn’t just her. It was all these South End ladies who would get together to have a good time with a purpose.”