Friendly Neigh­bors Club marks 60 years

Westside Eagle-Observer - - NEWS - LARRY BURGE

SUL­PHUR SPRINGS — The year was 1958. Sun­day evenings on tele­vi­sion, Ed Sul­li­van had acts such as the Everly Broth­ers and Buddy Holly on his show. The av­er­age worker’s wage was $2.20 an hour. A gal­lon of gas cost 25 cents. It was in 1958 that an ex­clu­sive club for women held its first meet­ing in Sul­phur Springs. The ladies called them­selves Friendly Neigh­bors.

Un­til this day, it is more likely an an­gler in Beaver Lake will catch a shark than any man has ever held a true ac­count of what goes on be­hind a closed-door meet­ing of the Friendly Neigh­bors Club of Sul­phur Springs. That is un­less a man asks the chil­dren who pas­sively at­tended the meet­ing with their mothers when the club first got its start.

The women first met in mem­bers’ homes. Some mem­bers brought along their chil­dren as they spent hours work­ing on projects. For 60 years now, mem­bers have been us­ing their projects’ prod­uct to bring many peo­ple cheer in and around the town. They made things for those they served, such as hand­made em­broi­dered tea tow­els or spe­cially de­signed quilts. They have with­out much fan­fare for 60 years handed out their prod­ucts of love-la­bor to peo­ple in their com­mu­nity who they knew to need a lit­tle cheer­ing up. One such project car­ried through their 60 years of ser­vice to their com­mu­nity is tak­ing get-well cards to those in town who are ill.

Char­ter mem­ber Pauline Hol­comb wrote in a note about the club that “this group of ladies helped to in­still a new sense of com­mu­nity pride by their com­mu­nity projects.”

Dur­ing the group’s 55year cel­e­bra­tion in 2013, Claudean Oaks told a story about when Mat­tie Nell Wills, mother of David Wills at the Gravette Bank [back then], brought him to the meet­ings.

“She prob­a­bly came be­fore he was born,” Oaks said, then she added, “We al­ways tried [at the meet­ings] to bring up all the good things about our town and its peo­ple. It has never been a gos­sip club. Ev­ery once in a while, when we needed money, we had a bake sale. That was the only fundraiser we had back then. Dues were $5 a year, same as now.”

Oaks was the old­est mem­ber at the club’s 55th an­niver­sary and has since passed away.

“At first, we met in ladies’ homes,” Oaks said, “We kept at­ten­dance down to about 15 mem­bers be­cause most of us didn’t have large [project] rooms in our homes. The club would give the host­ess $5 to­ward an en­trée. Of course, you could buy some­thing for $5 back then. Dur­ing the meet­ing, “one lady might tell an up­lift­ing story, another would say some­thing funny.”

This tra­di­tion, it is said, was con­tin­ued across the 60 years as well.

Friendly Neigh­bors Club has spread civic and com­mu­nity cheer around and across the city. First or­ga­nized March 5, 1958, the Friendly Neigh­bors have brought cheer to many peo­ple, like those who had lost every­thing in a home fire or sim­ply to some­one in bed at home with a cold or in the hospi­tal. They still make quilts and give away blan­kets. They still take “cheer bas­kets” of flow­ers to cheer peo­ple up, and they de­liver food to the el­derly.

Char­ter Friendly Neigh­bors in 1958 were pres­i­dent Vir­gie McMor­ris, sec­re­tary­trea­surer Mat­tie Nell Wills and re­porter Peggy Dills. Also at the meet­ing of the Friendly Neigh­bors 60 years ago were Nona Lee Holm, Jessie Bates, Laura Daniels, Pauline Hol­comb, Mary De­s­hazer and Laura Riter.

“We try to unify our com­mu­nity,” said Martha Kreder, cur­rent club pres­i­dent. “We help, pray with and visit peo­ple who need us in this town.”

To cel­e­brate 60 years, club mem­bers have sched­uled a com­mu­nity gath­er­ing at 1:30 p.m. Satur­day, March 17, in the city park. They have events planned to cel­e­brate two oc­ca­sions. Their cel­e­bra­tion in­cludes pay­ing re­spect to the club’s an­niver­sary by hon­or­ing cur­rent and fallen Friendly Neigh­bors mem­bers, as well as set a plaque hon­or­ing past, present and fu­ture mem­bers of the U.S. armed ser­vices. Ac­tiv­i­ties planned in­clude live mu­sic and sur­prise guest speak­ers.

Af­ter­ward, Friendly Neigh­bors in­vite all to join them with some snacks and a get-to-know-you gath­er­ing at 3 p.m. in the Old School cafe­te­ria.

Sub­mit­ted

The Friendly Neigh­bors Club of Sul­phur Springs cel­e­brated its 50th year with a gath­er­ing in 2008. Club mem­bers pic­tured are Lil Buck­ley (seated, from left), Betty Newell, Claudean Oaks and Nona Holm; Bar­bara Was­man (stand­ing, from left), Mau­rine...

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