The Times received a digital scan of an article that was found in Inez Collison’s keepsakes. The article was written by Sally Sallows about the founding of the Friendly Club. The same article appeared in Upper North Thompson Reflections, and was followed up with some updates by Vi Mayer and Collison. The following is an excerpt from that book.
Founding of the Friendly Club
By Sally Sallows
Inez Collison and I were neighbours down on the flats in Clearwater. We met, and from the first, were compatible. Nothing very inspiring transpired from our relationship but we enjoyed being together.
In May, I went to Vancouver to the church conference, and while there, on a cold, very wet, Saturday night, a group of delegates gathered in my room — because my room seemed to have some heat and everyone was cold.
We hashed over problems arising from the conference floor and also problems in our own churches back home. From this discussion, I learned what others were doing for their senior folk to keep them from settling down to old age too early.
When I came home, I told Inez and she admitted she was waiting for a plan to unfold in her mind along the same lines. We talked to our respective ministers, and they had been thinking about this too, they said.
Reverend Sandilands composed a letter for us and ran off copies which we folded to send to everyone in the distrcit who we thought was over 60. Where did these names come from? Taking the (hydro) meter book, we read the names of the hydro customers, having Roy (my husband, the Hydro employee) tell when we read the name, if they were old or young. To us at that time, being 60 was old! We found 25 or 30 names who we classed as “old.”
We mailed letters to them, asking if they would attend our first meeting on the following Wednesday, at 1:30 p.m. in the United Church. They came, and we were scared and didn’t know what to do, or say.
We brought our own Crockinole boards, and card tables, and cards and checkers, and got everyone seated. Before we knew it, the hour was over and it was lunch time. The table was set and Inez and I personally helped these old 60 year olds over to the table. We thought they were so-o-o old! Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and asked when we would meet again? It was suggested that we meet every Wednesday, and they faithfully came every week.
Before long, they were calling it Friendly Club because it was here, where they visited, and the old-timers told tall tales. The name still stands — truly a friendly club!
We tried to plan a different program each week, but we found nothing to work with and so we relied on our own club talents, singing and music one week, games the next, slides and movies the third week. A trip to Avola to have lunch in the cafe, or to Bear Creek Falls (known as Spahats today) for a picnic, or perhaps to someone’s beautiful garden, seemed to satisfy us and make the event a highlight.
We had some “old guys” who were rather romantic, amorous and lovable. Inez and I always managed to get a kiss or two at the door when they came in. Though we were demur and reluctant — we always got a kiss. At one of our Christmas parties, we had Buddy Johnson and Marge Bennett doing a skit and they referred to this “kissing bit,” and Buddy said, “I’d come to the club too, if I thought my husband would stay at home,” and Marge said, “I think I’ll bring mine — he might learn something.”
Weeks passed into months and months into years, and still we never lost our enthusiasm. The older ones simply grew older and passed on, leaving today only Nellie Davison and Betty Sollows of our original charter members (besides Sally and Inez).
New ones joined us and many of them have been with us for 10 years or more…
Friendly Club updates
By Vi Mayer and Inez Collison
The club held its first Christmas dinner at the Big Horn Cafe, (now Quality Printing building). Cost for the dinner was $1.50 a plate! Entertainment was provided by Enid Colborne, along with a choir who sang Christmas carols. The evening ended with a visit with Old Saint Nick, who had a gift for everyone! In later years the Lions Club began the tradition of providing the annual Christmas dinner for all the seniors in the area. This has continued to this day.
In 1872, the Club applied for and received a New Horizons Grant for the purpose of purchasing a movie projector and tape recorder. Lois Moss interviewed many pioneers, recording their memories on the tape recorder. A direct result of this was the three volumes of “The Home Trail,” that Lois wrote, turning all profits over to the club.
In 1973 a need for seniors housing was identified and a housing society, Evergreen Acres Senior Citizens Housing Society, was formed. The Friendly Club usually had a representative sitting on the Board of Directors, with Sally Sallows being the first. The Club played a large part in planning and in fact, furnished the lounge with a New Horizons Grant. The housing society was sponsored by the Lions Club, who had a walk-a-thon to raise the funds to start the project.
When Evergreen Acres opened in 1977, the Friendly Club meetings were moved to the lounge of the residence. By 1983 the membership of the club reached 65, more than the lounge could hold, and so the club moved to the Elks Hall for their weekly meetings. Planning began for a seniors’ centre that could be added to the exisiting Evergreen Acres residence. Again, Sally and Inez played a big role in convincing the club members that a seniors’ centre was needed…