Back in the days when Calvin Coolidge was president of the United States; when the best movie was "The Big Picture"; when best actor was Lon Chaney and the best actress was Gloria Swanson; when we had baseball and Pittsburg beat Washington in the World Series; when the best songs were "Five-Foot-Two, Eyes of Blue," "If You Knew Susie Like I Know Susie," "Yes Sir, That's My Baby," "I'm Sittin' On Top of the World," "Show Me The Way to Go Home," "Sleepy Time Gal," "Dinah," and "Who?"; when you could buy a three-bedroom house for $4,775; when the average income was $1,280; when you bought a new Ford for $366, a gallon of gas for 22 cents, a loaf of bread for 9 cents, a gallon of milk for 56 cents and a pound of bacon for 47 cents; the year when Madison Square Garden opened; when contract bridge was invented; when the Grand Ole Opry began; when Nellie Ross becaem the first woman goveror; when AT&T and Western Electric began the Bell Laboratories, and when inlaid linoleum was first used; when advertising included "Thanks Lifebuoy for ending B.O."; when fads included limerick contests, baseball cards and there were marathons such as flagpole sitting, dancing, talking, eating and drinking; when there was a national spelling bee; when Lucky Strike, Old Gold and Parents magazine were introduced; when Tom Mix and Tony the Wonder Horse starred in "Riders of the Purple Sage"; people danced the Charleston, William Randolph Hearst moved into the San Simeon Castle, and Anita Loos wrote "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"; the year was 1925.
The event of the year was on Feb. 17, 1925, when the Hays Lions Club received its charter. The first meeting of the club was actually on Oct. 10, 1924, just seven years to the day after the International Association of Lions Club was organized. Our charter was issued and signed on Dec. 31, 1924, but was presented officially to the club at a dinner meeting on Feb. 17, 1925.
During the intervening years between 1925 and now, the Hays Lions Club has been responsible for helping to organize and charter 10 Lions Clubs. The first was at Atwood in 1927. Others included Colby, La Crosse, Gorham, Ellis, Victoria, Russell, Fort Hays and Downs. Time and the shrinking population of some of these towns have caused them to merge with larger communities.
During our history, some interesting activities were tried, some of them successful and some not. A Minstrel Show was performed two years in a row but the director chose not to return, as he found it too difficult to put on a performance that would meet his standards with the actors coming from our club. Sponsoring a Ban Johnson baseball team was not as successful as the Hays Lions had hoped for. Charlie Reed, manager of the Fox Theater at that time, was one of the most devoted and hardest-working sponsors of the team, but it didn't last. Only a few years ago, our venture at selling potato pancakes met with less-than-hoped-for success -- but it has been good for a lot of laughs.
The Hays Lions Club has produced and provided Kansas and Lions International with a number of leaders. District governors are important jobs, being responsible for a number of clubs within a district consisting of several counties. The first of the district governors from the Hays Club was Standlee Dalton in 1941-42.
At that time, our district was large, covering all of Kansas west from the east border of Russell County and from the Nebraska to Oklahoma borders. Those were years when gasoline was in very short supply, so he had to use gasoline coupons in his travels.
C.W. "Mac" McKee was governor in 1950-51. He made 136 visits during his year and was credited with a gain of 16 new clubs and 562 members. McKee also became chairman of the board of governors in 1951, international director from 1952 through 1954, and was a candidate for international third vice president in 1954. Other district governors from our clubs include Ron Livers, Bert Soderblom, Jim Thyfault, Les Herman -- who also was elected as chairman of the Lions State Council-- Bill Moriarity and Bill Paul.
The Hays club has also hosted five state conventions and several district conventions.
The International Lions motto is "We Serve." The Hays Lions Club has a lengthy list of activities exemplifying that motto. Over the past 85 years since its beginning, the activities of this club cover the best part of a full sheet of paper. The money raised from these activities is all returned into the community in the form of services.
Some of the activities include:
* Supporting the 4-H Achievement banquet since 1942, 68 years. Supporting Boy Scout troop 101 since 1926.
* Supporting Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity, for which our club has collected more than 50,000 eyeglasses. These are all tested and presented to those who do not have glasses. The soldiers have used this service to present glasses to those in Iraq who do not have them.
The Lions have purchased new glasses for some who need but cannot afford them. Sight projects have always been the prime service of Lions Club and have provided white canes, seeing-eye dogs and many other sight-saving projects. At our annual pancake and sausage feed, products made by the blind are offered for sale. Over the years, this project has amounted to approximatley $46,000 benefitting those who made the articles and the recipients of those in our community who have received help.
There are many activities in our community that have been supported by the Hays Lions Club. A few of this service includes Meals-on Wheels, the Hays Public Library, Dream, Inc., sending students to Boy State and the Lion State Band, bell ringers for the Salvation Army, the United Way, Toys for Tots, Project Graduation for the high schools, Special Olympics, the Lions Northridge Park, a basketball court and a number of others.
Where does the money come from to support these activities? The annual pancake and sausage day over the last few years has provided approximatley $85,000. Sale of bierocks at Oktoberfest has provided approximatley $26,000. The Demolition Derby has contributed approximatley $30,000. There are other projects that provide monies and services that contribute to the community. All of these activities provide not only money, but the feeling of service which we all enjoy.
Happy 85th birthday to the Hays Lions
Arris Johnson, Hays, is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.