Friendly Neighbors Club marks 60 years
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.
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...