Grange Notes by Tim Swartz, Grange President (with everyone’s help), August 30, 2020
Saying goodby to Les Skinner
In the (grainy) picture above, Marj Power (who passed away on July 25th this year) is getting ready to dance with Les, on the day in 2005 when 70 new members joined the Grange! Members of the VT State Grange performed all 4 “degrees” of membership in the Grange to bring in this large crowd of new members, followed by a contra dance called by David Kaynor, which he began with a “Grand March” to bring old and new members together.
Les had joined the Grange when he was 13, in 1941–he told us that his mother insisted that he and his brothers join because they could get inexpensive health insurance from there! Les was active in the Grange in his home state of Massachusetts for many years before moving to Northfield VT in 1991. He soon became Master of Capital City Grange, where he was a vital part of keeping the Grange going. As has happened to many Granges, it was hard to attract younger, energetic members; he managed to get Grange members at the North Branch Grange in Worcester to join Capital City as “affiliate members”. I think about half of the members at most of the meetings I started to attend in 1998 were affiliates.
In the late 1990s, Les began to spread the word to the Grange’s renters that the Grange could not survive unless more people could join and take an active part in keeping the Grange, and the Hall going. That’s what got me started–but it took a few repetitions to convince us all that we really needed to pitch in. Marj was one of the crew that took up the challenge, and convinced many other people from the dance community that they should join. In the end, as described above, we had a great influx of new members. At the mass initiation, the State Grange Master at the time, Phyllis Mason gave Les a “Super Granger” shirt, as she said that he would have the task of integrating all these new folks.
Les, along with the remaining “original Grangers”, took on the challenge. With his trademark good humor, he and the others took us in hand, showed us how Grange meetings can be held in a relaxed, congenial manner. By the time new officers were elected in 2006, some of us were ready to move over into the officers’ chairs. Les moved from being Master to take up the Treasurer’s sash–he had been helping his wife Phyllis to take care of that office for years. I did my best to fill his large shoes at the Master’s station (until we changed the office title to “President” a few years ago). Les continued to share his experience in how we jointly ran the Grange, staying on as Treasurer until 2016.
Les was an example for all of us–listening to every viewpoint, open to hearing about new ideas, willing to trust us “young folks” to take part in decision-making, and willing to both give and take a joke. We’re going to miss him.
Pete’s Posse will play their usual broad repertoire of originals and traditional tunes, and will no doubt include some that will get you dancing in your living room! Their website, www.petesposse.com points out that they have toured over 140,000 miles since 2014. Since the Coronavirus shutdown, they have been doing live-streamed concerts like this one–and we’re honored that they were eager to play for us! They have often said that playing for dances at the Grange is one of their favorite gigs, and they’ve been one of the favorite dance bands for contra dances since their inception.
As in other CDU-sponsored fundraisers, a core group of Grange supporters with deep-ish pockets are donating a “Challenge” amount for the dance and Grange communities to match. The CDU will be paying the Posse for their time–supporting the artists that bring the music to the dances is one of their missions. During the concert, Pete, Oliver and Tristan will solicit donations for the Grange–to a Paypal connection. There is no “admission” charge for this benefit, but we will welcome any amount you can donate!
Given the Grange’s financial straits, this year the money will be going to support the ongoing expenses of running the Hall, rather than being earmarked for another big project–it may help pay for some ventilation improvements that will make our Hall safer for rental groups (see below).
Keeping Marj’s skirts dancing!–and supporting the Grange at the same time
An ad hoc group of us got together to photograph all the skirts and other items, on a sunny day on the Grange’s dancer-entrance porch. Below are a few of the skirts; the numbers correspond to descriptions of the size, material, etc. which will be included on the auction website.
Elizabeth Templeton, a member of the Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall, and Ruth Ruttenberg, President of the Old Socialist Labor Hall have been putting the auction together–and will be making the auction live on Saturday, Sept. 12th–the same day as our Pete’s Posse concert/fundraiser! Stay tuned for your chance to bid!
The auction and the link will be shared on the CDU Facebook page, our website, and the Labor Hall website, so everyone can find it. Please spread the word to everyone you know–locally, regionally or nationally–who would like to take these skirts to their next dances!
September meeting: 3rd Saturday = 9/19
As usual–the first Saturday of September comes on Labor Day Weekend–even this year, we expect that people will have other things on their minds besides Grange meetings, so we’ll move the meeting to the 3rd Saturday, from 4:30 to 6:00 PM. We’ll do another combination of in-person and Zoom meeting
We will also be honoring the memories of both Les Skinner and Marj Power by performing the Grange ceremony of “Draping the Charter”. This will provide us a formal opportunity for reminiscing about their lives and their (substantial) contributions to our Grange. We hope that people will join us–live or by Zoom–for this as well as the rest of the Grange meeting. The Zoom link will be posted on the Grange meeting listing on the website Calendar: www.capitalcitygrange.org/
Another improvement–because we know that winter will come!
Kurt Giavara and I took on another small project this month, replacing the too-small roof (see the top left photo below the top one) that was over the fire-exit with one large enough to cover the concrete pad in front of the door.
In the past, snow from the roof has fallen down on the pad (see the top photo), so close to the building that the fire door wasn’t able to open fully–obviously not a good thing if we really needed to be able to get people out! I have chopped away the very dense snow piles on occasion, but will be happy not to do it. The new roof will keep snow coming down off the pad, and will encourage it to go farther out.
Kurt bought all the lumber, donating it BTW, and cut all the parts to size; I primed and painted all the parts before we put them up. This made the installation process pretty fast–and it was enjoyable to not work in 90 degree heat!
It doesn’t feel much like winter now, but as Vermonters we know that doesn’t mean it won’t come.