Sudlersville Bet­ter­ment Club cel­e­brates 100 years

Record Observer - - Front Page - By HAN­NAH COMBS & JOSHUA FREE­MAN news­room@recor­dob­server.com

SUDLERSVILLE — The Sudlersville Com­mu­nity Bet­ter­ment Club has been in ex­is­tence for 100 years. Over the years, the club has had many lead­ers, mem­bers and fol­low­ers, who have been in­stru­men­tal in keep­ing the old­est meet­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion in Sudlersville go­ing.

The club cel­e­brated its 100-year an­niver­sar y with a lun­cheon, Satur­day, June 25 at the Sudlersville

Vol­un­teer Fire Com­pany. Club Pres­i­dent Loretta Walls said she hoped the cel­e­bra­tion would leave those in at­ten­dance with good mem­o­ries of Sudlersville and the sur­round­ing area.

“It is so nice to have for­mer mem­bers of our com­mu­nity here to­day,” she said. “It is like hav­ing our Sudlersville fam­ily back to­gether again to share this day with us.”

In ad­di­tion to the lunch, pro­vided by fire com­pany aux­il­iar y mem­bers, the event fea­tured a slideshow of pho­tos from the 1980s through the present com­piled by mem­ber Made­line Hub­bard. The slideshow show­cased ac­tiv­i­ties the club had been in­volved in and old friends and rel­a­tives who had vis­ited through­out the years, Walls said.

Ac­cord­ing to a 1996 ar­ti­cle found at the Sudlersville Me­mo­rial Li­brary, the club be­gan in 1916 with Min­nie H. Walls serv­ing as the first pres­i­dent of the club un­til 1918. Dur­ing her time as pres­i­dent, the club took part in projects such as pay­ing for the town traf­fic light and pay­ing $5 a year for the town clock to be wound.

Anna Roberts Ware was one of the special speak­ers at the an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion. Ware’s mother was the first vice pres­i­dent of the club when it of­fi­cially formed in 1916.

“Women’s Clubs were just be­gin­ning to be the thing in 1916,” Ware said, “and the women of Sudlersville thought to or­ga­nize a club. Weren’t those Sudlersville women smart? They knew it from the be­gin­ning”.

Ware shared her rec­ol­lec­tion of rum­mage sales held by the club at Four Cor­ners and mem­bers send­ing items that didn’t sell to “poor coun­tries.”

One of the first things the club did, Ware re­called, was to put a traf­fic light at Four Cor­ners.

They would also es­tab­lish the Sudlersville Li­brary in mem­ory of Emma Chance and mem­bers served as li­brar­i­ans. The li­brary opened with 400 books donated by Mr. Al Chance, said Ware and Dr. Met­calf gave a revolving book case to help dis­play the many books.

The li­brar y sur vived the scar­let fever epi­demic, which broke out in 1926. In a des­per­ate act to safe guard the li­brary books and to counter the spread of in­fec­tion, no one was al­lowed to check out books from the li­brary dur­ing the epi­demic, and books in­side homes of the af­flicted were de­stroyed.

The li­brary would grow to hold 1,900 books, and Dr. Met­calf’s revolving book case is still on dis­play to­day, Ware said.

Ware shared her mem­o­ries of the club’s spon­sored Girl Scout troop, of which she was a mem­ber. She re­mem­bers at age 11 gath­er­ing at a club mem­ber’s house to learn the carol, “The 12 Days of Christ­mas” and singing at the Christ­mas tree pro­vided and lit by the club.

The club also or­ga­nized a yearly trash col­lec­tion, Ware said, and, in the 1940s, worked to beau­tify the town, plant­ing pink dog­wood trees in all the Sudlersville yards.

Although the Bet­ter­ment Club has spon­sored of some of Sudlersville’s most his­toric mo­ments, like the Bi­cen­ten­nial Cel­e­bra­tion of 1976, the first Sudlersville Day in 1973, and pay­ing for the rail­ing of Sudlersville Me­mo­rial Li­brary in 1963, none had a big­ger im­pact on the town than the Sudlersville Train Sta­tion Mu­seum or the Jim­mie Foxx statue.

The long stand­ing train sta­tion was ac­quired in 1987 af­ter be­ing used as a pas­sen­ger sta­tion un­til 1939, then as a freight sta­tion un­til 1965. It was turned into a mu­seum in 1991 af­ter the club re­ceived a grant from Mary­land His­tor­i­cal Trust. Cur­rent and for­mer town res­i­dents were asked to pro­vide any­thing that would help ex­pand on the mu­seum.

Walls said the club still owns the train sta­tion.

“His­tor­i­cal preser­va­tion has been our fo­cus for the last 25 years,” said Walls, “and the Sudlersville Train Sta­tion holds much his­tory of our com­mu­nity.”

The sta­tion is spon­sored in part by a toy and train show fundraiser to help with main­te­nance and a hoped for mu­seum ex­pan­sion. The next show will be held on Oct. 15 at the fire­house.

Base­ball Hall of Fame le­gend Jim­mie Foxx is Sudlersville’s most fa­mous res­i­dent and is a big part of the town’s his­tory. His statue sits in the mid­dle of the town di­ag­o­nal from the stop light. The Bet­ter­ment Club played a crit­i­cal role in ac­quir­ing the statue as well as spon­sor­ing trib­utes in 1933, 1981 and 1987. The club also raised the money to ac­quire a bronze statue of Foxx in 1997 with the help of base­ball le­gend Ted Wil­liams, who was a for­mer team­mate of Foxx. He served as hon­orary chair­man dur­ing the project.

In honor of Jim­mie Foxx, the club started the Jim­mie Foxx Text­book Schol­ar­ship pro­gram and awarded its first win­ner in 1988. The schol­ar­ship is given an­nu­ally to a stu­dent who has at­tended school in Sudlersville and shown ath­letic and aca­demic po­ten­tial.

This year’s win­ner, Han­nah Schauber, was rec­og­nized at the an­niver­sar y cel­e­bra­tion. Schauber is a 2016 grad­u­ate of Queen Anne’s County High School who plans to at­tend col­lege in the fall on a pre-med path­way. Her ca­reer goal is to be­come a physi­cian’s as­sis­tant spe­cial­iz­ing in pe­di­atric on­col­ogy.

Cur­rently, there are 12 mem­bers and sev­eral other hon­orary mem­bers and as­sis­tants who con­trib­ute to the club. Meet­ings are held at the Dog­wood Vil­lage Se­nior Cen­ter. The mission of the club has grown from pro­mot­ing the bet­ter­ment of the town through beau­ti­fi­ca­tion and civic sup­port to a ded­i­ca­tion to pre­serv­ing and pro­mot­ing the his­tory of Sudlersville and the sur­round­ing area. Keep­ing with that tra­di­tion, an­other one of club’s many im­por­tant projects is bring­ing the an­nual sec­ond-grade class at Sudlersville Ele­men­tar y to visit the li­brar y, where the chil­dren learn about the his­tory of Sudlersville.

“It is with great pride that we [rec­og­nize] this mile­stone,” said Walls, “much as been ac­com­plished through the years. We do honor the mem­bers that came be­fore us for their ded­i­ca­tion to help cre­ate a better com­mu­nity in which to live. Time has changed many things, but we still strive to en­hance our sur­round­ings for a better qual­ity of life and to pre­serve our his­tory.”

HAN­NAH COMBS

SCBC mem­bers and for­mer Sudlersville res­i­dents gather to cel­e­brate the 100 year an­niver­sary of the club and re­mem­ber Sudlersville his­tory.

PHO­TOS HAN­NAH COMBS

Sudlersville Bet­ter­ment Club Loretta Walls wel­comes guests to the club’s 100th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion on Satur­day, June 25.

Han­nah Schauber re­ceives the Jim­mie Foxx Schol­ar­ship at the 100 year an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion of the SCBC.

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