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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Horsehead Bay Garden Club

Horsehead Bay Garden Club

I hope everyone has noticed the lovely flower boxes around the waterfront filled with flowers and greenery.  They’re looking better than they have in the past because this year the Horsehead Bay Garden Club not only planted them, but also maintaining them on a bi-weekly basis.  Gig Harbor is so lucky to have people and organizations who contribute so much time and effort to help maintain our our beautiful community.

But, how many of us non-gardeners know about the Horsehead Bay Garden Club?  Perhaps it you regularly attended the annual Tacoma Community College fundraiser “Gig Harbor Garden Tour” started in 1998.  

In the 1930s The Amateur Garden Club in Gig Harbor was quite active as a social club.  Perhaps they played a part in encouraging a group of women living in the Horsehead Bay area to start a similar club closer to their homes.  I can’t say they did, but in the 1930-140 garden clubs were very popular.  The again, perhaps it was due to activities at the Gig Harbor Grange #445.

But rather than speculate, let me share with you a document I found in the Research Room at the Harbor History Museum.

The First Ten Years

On Thursday afternoon, October 9, 1941, a group of ladies of the Horsehead Bay area were invited by Mrs. F. A. Valentine to meet at her home for luncheon and to consider organizingg a garden club.

Present, in addition to the hostess, were Mesdames Ray Arnold, A. H. Anderson, Frank Lamborn, J. C. Sails, A. G. Smith, Lantern, Baird, and MacAllaster Moore.

Mrs. Valentine’s idea met with enthusiastic response and there our club was born and christened The Horsehead Bay Garden Club.

Mrs. MacAllaster Moore was chosen Chairman of the group.  There were no other officers, no dues, and no by-laws.  each year Mrs. Moore was reelected, the only officer, until in October, 1945, it was decided by the club that the duty required a second officer.  Mrs. George Kenna was elected to serve as Vice-President-Treasurer, Mrs. Moore to serve as President-Secretary.

In October, 1946, the club’s first constitution and by-laws were presented by a committee composed of Mrs. J. C. Sails, Mrs. R. E. Borhek, Mrs. George Kennan, Mrs. A. F. Gookins and Mrs. F. M. Cole.  These by-laws were unanimously approved and adopted, and under them the following officers were elected:

President Mrs. MacAllaster Moore
Vice-President Mrs. Roland Borhek
Secretary Mrs. J. C. Sails
Treasurer Mrs. Fred A. wood
Executive Committee) Mrs. Harry Visser
Members-at-Large    ) Mrs. George Kennan

Dues were instituted at this time at $1.00 per year.

In October, 1947, Mrs. George Kennan was elected President.  She was succeed in 1948 by Mrs. J. C. Sails.  Mrs. Roland Borhek was our next president, serving two years, 1949 to 1951, when she was succeeded by Mrs. Elvin Larson.

During the first five years, the attendance varied from five or six to ten.  We met for luncheon, until, in October, 1945, with increasing membership, it was voted to serve dessert and coffee only, with members bringing their own sandwiches.

Charter members who remained and worked with the club in its early years were Mrs. A. H. Anderson, Mrs. CLarence Spinney, Mrs. Robert Hendry, Mrs. Lanterman, Mrs. J. C. Sails, Mrs. George Kennan, Mrs. MacAllaster Moore and of course, our founder, Mrs. F. A. Valentine.

In our first year our programs were, first:  Chrysanthemums, In November, 1941, with a paper on new hardy varieties by Mrs. F. A. Valentine, an article by Mrs. A. G. Smith and general discussion and planting, pruning and growing.

In December, our second meeting, we were instructed in wreath making, using holly and mixed greens.

Our guest speaker for February was A. C. Richardson, Pierce County Agricultural Agent.  Mr. Richardson became our good friend and ever-ready help as we struggled with our Victory Gardens through 1942 and the ensuing war years - and he always had gasoline in those rationed times to come to us when other speakers could not.

Gail Clark, not so famous a garden authority then as she later became, through radio and television, was our guest speaker in May of our first year.

In August, 1942, Mrs. Alvin Allard of Tacoma gave us a memorable flower arrangement demonstration.  To quote from the record of that meeting:  “Particularly interesting were Mrs. Allard’s use of stones, bits of driftwood, and coral fans as backgrounds and accents for her floral pictures.”

During 1942, the club started its “Red Cross Project”, the making of afghans for Madigan Army Hospital.  We met once each week at the Moore home to crochet and assemble squares and sew them together.  Later in the war we also made dish gardens in large clam and oyster shells for Madigan Hospital.

The war, coming as it did less than two months after the club’s organization, had a serious effect upon the club program, as it did upon our individual lives.  Because of gas rationing, it became difficult to get speakers.  This had a good effect, however, as it made us self-reliant in our programs, and in as small a group as ours, the general forum, led by the Chairman, was an informative and stimulating method.

Victory gardens soon became our most important horticultural activity, and experienced vegetable growers such as Mrs. Kennan, Mrs. Lanterman and Mrs. Anderson were towers of strength to us struggling amateurs, to whom each single aphid loomed as large as an elephant on a precious broccoli plant.

A constructive act was the sponsoring by our club of an all day canning and freezing demonstration by the County Agents’ Office Home Economics Department, at the Arletta School, open to the general public.  This seemed to meet a very real need in those war days.

In October, 1943, the club held its first tiny flower show.  Mrs. J. C. Whoitmore of Rosedale, Mrs. John Davies of Wauna were judges.  The schedule was as follows:
  1. Living Room Decoration, Judged on Arrangement
  2. Specimen Bloom - Any flower, judged on perfection of flower and foliage
  3. Chrysanthemum, Specimen
  4. Miniture - Arrangement
  5. Wild Foliage - Flower or berry arrangement 

If this schedule sounds amusing in comparison with the elaborate ones seen in flower shows now, remember that only eight members participated, and that it was quite in accordance with the best in flower show schedules of that period.

June, 1944, brought our second flower show at the home of Mrs. Valentine, with Mrs. J. C. Sails and Mrs. F. A. Wood, the Committee in charge.  The schedule was not recorded, but the minutes show twenty three present, members and guests, with Mrs. Roland Borhek and Mrs. John Davies judges.

We felt ourselves ready for a more ambitious show in June, 1945, and this was held at the Arletta School.  The building was perfect for the purpose and the show was so lovely that we held a second show there in August of the following year, 1946.  

Judges in 1945 were again Mrs. Borhek and Mrs. Davies.  By 1946, Mrs. Borhek was one of our own members and Mrs. J. C. Whoitmore served as judge with Mrs. Davies.

On October 29, 1946, our club along with Vaughn and Wollochet Garden Clubs joined with Amateur Garden Club of Gig Harbor in a large Silver Tea, presenting as speaker Margaret McKenny of Olympia.  Miss McKenny, nationally acclaimed naturalist, author and photographer showed colored slides to illustrate her very fine lecture.  This was a very successful Affair, with excellent attendance.

In autumn of 1946, our club was asked by the Arletta School P.T.A. to assist in planting shrubs on the school grounds.  Mrs. Ben Pearson was appointed chairman of a committee, together with Mrs. Forrest Wise and Mrs. Ernest Elmore, to act upon this matter.  Club members donated some shrubs and a start, at least, was made, later to be carried on by the P.T.A.

On May, 1947, Mrs. Archie Blair arranged a very special treat for us.  The club was invited to lunch and our regular meeting at her home in Tacoma, after which we toured the Gravelly Lake gardens of the W. W. Keyes home.  Mrs. Keyes was most gracious, showing us over there grounds, the green houses, even the stables to introduce us to her riding horses.  After leaving Mrs. Keyes, we also saw the Lowell T. Murray gardens.

For our summer highlight of 1947, the club decided, rather than a flower show, to present Cecil Solly as speaker at a picnic, inviting the other Peninsula garden clubs as guests.  It rained and the picnic moved to the Arletta School, with a very good attendance.  Mr. Richardson, our County Agent, was a guest speaker on this occasion.

Our next flower show was held in the summer of 1949, under Mrs. Sails’ presidency, at the home of Mrs. Valentine.  Judges were Mrs. C. W. Schuh and Mrs. H. C. Mandell of Tacoma Garden Club.  Mrs. Borhek was Show Chairman.  We were highly complimented by the judges for the quality of our exhibits and the artistic staging.  We purchased burlap for the table covers and corrugated cardboard for background and each arrangement had its own little niche, making a very effective display.  Mrs. Fred A. Wood was chairman of staging.

At the first meeting of Mrs. J. C. Sails’ administration, organizing secretary of Capital District, Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs spoke to us of the benefits of Federation.  In December of that year our club voted to join the Federation.

Under Mrs. Sails’ leadership, the tradition of our Christmas decoration show was started; this feature has become a regular and interesting part of our program.

Practice in flower exhibiting during the years “48, “49, ’50 was advanced by our clubs participation in the Spring Flower Show given by the Wollochet Bay Garden Club.  Each club of the area was given a table, and Horsehead Bay took first award at each of these three shows, mostly because we tried always to express a theme in our display.

In August, 1949, a flower show and guest tea was held at the home of Mrs. Cleon Soule, the Soule’s garage being transformed for ourshow room.  Mrs. D. P. Murphy and Mrs. I. R. Hunter were co-chairmen.  Mrs. R. S. Harvey and Mrs. Wm. Goering, of Tacoma, were judges - our first use of judges accredited by National Council.  Staging Chairman was Mrs. Roland Borhek.

For the season 1949-1950, the program committee, under the Chairman, Mrs. C. W. Larsen, gave the club its first year-book.  In an effort to keep the cost of mimeographing down, the work was taken to the local high school, which was a sad mistake, because their work was of a quality to make rather a mess of the committee’s careful preparation.  Each member was to decorate the cover of her own book, and next year this practice was followed again, a small prize given for the book cover receiving the most votes by the club.

When Mrs. Elvin Larson took office as President, in 1951, one of her first official acts was to appoint a committee to study the by-laws in effect since 1946, with a view toward revising them to meet changing conditions.  Our club was growing up, membership was nearing the limit to be taken care of in our homes.

This committee, composed of Mrs. MacAllaster Moore, Mrs. Roland Borhek and Mrs. I. L. Hunter, together with the President, Mrs. Elvin Larson, met many times and made a thorough study of the matter, with help from the club.

The new by-laws were finally adopted in August, 1952, and almost immediately became subject to revision as new problems arose.

Another achievement of the 1951 season was the commencement of a regular publicity program, with monthly newspaper accounts of club activities.

So, Clippings, take it from here!!!

Alice C. Moore

Historian

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

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