I know that for many people, one of the most boring subjects they had to take in school was history. So I tried not to take it personally when President Stuart asked me to talk a little about our club’s history.
We have Rosters, issues of SPARKS, and board minutes going back to the very beginning, but I thought maybe there would be a little interest in changes over the past fifty years – since May, 1963.
We had 426 total members back then, 378 of whom were actives – expected to attend regularly. And indeed, attendance in May 1963 averaged 84%, or over 300 at each luncheon, which were in the Brown Hotel, along with the chapter office.
Classifications were very different then, reflecting a different local economy. There were lots of manufacturers – of paints, varnish, and lacquer; of tobacco machinery, tractors, freight trailers, whiskey barrels, air cleaning equipment, ice, carbide, cement, cigarettes, and lots more.
Many of us were in retail or wholesale trade – distributing everything from adding machines, dictating machines, duplicating machines, typewriters – remember those? – to coal, dry goods, folding doors, fences, farm machinery, agricultural implements, motor parts, refined oil products and hardware.
23 members were classified as physicians, versus 19 today, but there weren’t any medical equipment, medical supplies, managed healthcare or medical management classifications. They’re all new.
Charlie Castner is our only remaining member in Railroad Transportation; we had 6 in 1963.
Another 6 of our members were lawyers then, versus 38 today. There were 8 bankers, against 20 today, plus a lot of other financial services. The other really big expansion has been in non-profit association leaders – from 10 then to 37 today.
We regularly had out-of-town speakers for our meetings. For the Derby Week meeting, Earl Ruby of the Courier-Journal brought in sports reporters from Sports Illustrated and other national journals. M. Stanton Evans of the Indianapolis News talked to us about a trend he was seeing on college campuses – away from New-Deal-oriented liberalism and toward conservatism. I don’t think he foresaw the anti-Vietnam war movement. Charles P. Taft of the Cincinnati Tafts told us about the new European Common Market and its threat to American exports.
Our major service projects that spring, in addition to the on-going student loan program, were to build a replica pioneer stockade at the Boy Scout camp at Rough River, and to support Bridgehaven in making a slide film presentation of its work.
SPARKS had room for numerous articles and commentaries from members – and members had time to write them! There were bits of humor as well – some of it a bit misogynistic, as you might expect from a male-only group:
“What life sentence can you get out of through bad behavior? Marriage.”
“When she says she’ll think it over, brother, it is.”
And some was self-deprecating –
“An executive is anyone who can take two days off for a business trip and not be missed at the office.”
“By the time you fully appreciate the wonderful advantage of being young, you ain’t.”
But then as now, it was an active, involved group, regularly emphasizing the Four-Way Test and the spirit of Rotary. A lot of our History is now on-line – check it out HERE!