Suffolk rotary club was chartered on may 1,1922 and served the entire Suffolk area until 1974 when Suffolk started growing at a much greater rate. The service club for the county was and is the Ruritan club that has done a great job. In 1974 the Suffolk Rotary Club asked Bob Williams to work toward starting a new club that would serve North Suffolk. Bob contacted me and asked if I was interested in working with him.
As I remember, we contacted Allen Watson, Bill Cattenhead, Richard Davis, Pret Pretlow, and Richard Turner. From this small meeting we grew to 23 members by our charter night, this night turned out to be a great event. Our charter night was held at George and Steve’s steak house on route 17. The then district governor Roger Beane. It seems he was quite dedicated to rotary and very long winded. After a long boring time one of our charter members Bill Davis, interior designer, took matters into his own hands and dropped a cup and saucer from table height onto the concrete floor. Our speaker never heard it and continued his talk.
Allen Watson was a great first president and served almost two years. During his administration the first Cedar Point home tour was held as a fund raiser and it created a great deal of interest in the club. A note of interest was that there were homes opened for the first time that had refused other requests. The homes included Jerry and Charlie Horton, Ginny and Bob House, the Thurston’s, and Kay and Emmett Eason. The admission was $5.00 and you could buy lunch at Cedar Point Club. The home tour was a great success we felt and as our way of thanking the homeowners, we took them to the Williamsburg Inn for diner. A really nice evening.
In the spring of Allen’s administration we had a successful golf tournament for the benefit of the boy scouts, maybe $5000.00 raised. The Christmas parties were a little different in the beginning. All male and heavy fines for the benefit of the club. One time Walter Story, president of National Screen Co. who was considered very tight, visited our Christmas party and was fined $20.00. I don’t believe he ever attended again.
I was the 2nd president and our meetings were still held at George and Steve’s. Bill Cattenhead was the 3rd president and Richard Davis the 4th. During Bill Cattenheads administration Bill got a lot of laughs on me since I was in the cemetery business and we were selling door to door and telephone solicitation. We offered a free grave and Bill had much fun at my expense.
At some point, maybe during Richards regime, we started having the shrimp and crab feast. Much fun and a great time was had by all. Many good memories were made at those feasts. One year Everett Newman was supposed to bring the shrimp and when it was time to cook them, Everett had brought the wrong frozen carton and they were frozen tomatoes. I believe Ben Lynch went to farm fresh to buy the shrimp. This saved the day. Also during Dick Davis rein, we were supposed to have an oyster roast at the community house in Crittenden-Eclipse and we had a snow storm. Spud Jackson got the snow cleared and the oyster roast was held as scheduled.
At some point a decision was made to meet at Cedar Point and a very nice waitress named Ann agreed to move with us. She was excellent and stayed with us at cedar for several years. Also during Richard Davis’ term, another shrimp and crab feast was held at Nix’s clubhouse and the planning was not the best. The tide was not accounted for and when it was time to leave, it was low tide. The only thing to do was keep on drinking until the tide came in. Somewhat of a problem, several members had a little too much to drink and when it was time to leave they were a little unsteady. When getting out of the bateau missed their step and stepped in the mud rather deep.
Pret Pretlow, our 5th president won a name for himself by starting our Christmas parties with the Rotary Anns held at his home at Everetts. Really nice event and since then until recently we have held the Christmas parties at the presidents home, this was 1981. George Wren became the 6th president and regrettably died after serving only one or two meetings. Leonard Willis came to the rescue and fulfilled his term and then became the 7th president. At some point the club decided to have a newsletter and much consideration was given to design for the cover. I believe under Leonards term Pat Bohan did the drawing for the binnacle.
It has served us well and I am not sure when, but we had a Santa Claus and one or more years Ronnie Rountree dressed as Santa. We dubbed him the ugliest Santa. He did a great job. Spud Jackson was our 8th president and during his administration he and McLean made a wheel. For fines we had to spin the wheel and as I remember, everyone but the club lost. This was about the time a dissident group met at one table. They formed the North Suffolk Rotary and had their own president. At one time they drank out of oilcans and dressed like sheiks. The members of this infamous group were Spud Jackson, Ronnie Rountree, Frank Chwallenbery and Roy Spears.
Our 9th president was Bill Pinkham, I believe his claim to fame was to appeal to all the members to contribute to the rotary foundation. Our 10th president was Richard Turner. He sponsored the polio plus. In order to raise funds for polio plus, he and John Knoz hauled a wrecked car to Lee Hernquest home where Tom Anderson lives. Lee was having a function and raised Cain to get it out of the neighborhood. Richard and John then surprised Peggy and myself by putting it in front of our house. I think you were supposed to pay to get it out.
There are equally good stories about all the other Presidents but I will only give one more. Roy spears our 22nd president was playing golf and on his way to the club dropped dead. I believe bus sawyer filled his unexpired term, many good times and great memories.