Members of the Monday Club, an organization founded in 1885 to study and discuss “literature, art, science, and the vital interests of the day” gathered with their husbands on a recent Monday evening at the Chestnut Street home of Marty and Paul Rogers to mark the club’s 125th anniversary.

The convivial event was marked by a dinner catered by Salt/French & Brawn, a welcome by club president Pat Messler, a toast by Ann Montgomery, and a poem to the Monday Club written by Corallie Murray.

Many of the members wore vintage hats to commemorate those who came before in the club’s long history. A slideshow showing each active and honorary member at various stages of her life provoked much laughter and a few “ahs.”

Throughout the years and through all the changes in the world around them, ladies of the club have met in each other’s homes on Monday afternoons from November to April to present papers on the topic chosen for the year, followed by a tea complete with cucumber sandwiches and cookies. As noted by Pat Messler in her welcome, “While much has changed over time, an awful lot remains the same.”

Monday Club – 125th Anniversary

If ghosts could return from that first Monday meeting,

I think they’d approve of what they’d be seeing.

The changes are less than you might believe,

For the aims are the same, though looks might deceive.

They would like the reports, while shorter than theirs,

And of course our apparel might cause some stares.

So what could we tell them that we’ve been doing

For more than a century? Here’s a brief viewing:

We’ve scrambled in Africa, rambled in Spain,

There’s barely a country that we can’t explain.

Islands and capitals, rivers and seas,

Science and history we’ve covered with ease.

We’ve read about statesmen, explorers and writers,

And women and leaders, both heroes and blighters.

We’ve questioned our beliefs, our myths and our mores,

We’ve wondered at Wonders and followed the forays

Of migrating people and birds and of fishes,

While preparing and eating delectable dishes.

Our parties were famous, right from the start,

That 10th anniversary made dining an art.

For 125 years we’ve shared our abilities,

Despite, for some of us, diminished capabilities!

We’ve slaved over papers, and shook while we read,

And much preferred learning from others instead.

Our speakers have thrilled us with words perspicacious;

Their comments are usually most efficacious.

They’ve entertained well with their expertise.

How grateful we are for their noblesse oblige.

We’ve studied our past; updated our by-laws,

But changed not at all the original high cause

Of joining together to learn and to share,

With women who believe that we must be aware,

That learning has value and can be entertaining.

So Monday Club lives! And will be self-sustaining.

So thanks to you all, both present and past,

As we look to the future, our traditions hold fast!

Corallie H. Murray, Oct. 25, 2010

Topics chosen to study in the early years, when the club transitioned from the Reading Club of Camden to the Monday Club, included American History, Mexico, Early New England Settlements, and “Maine as a Literary, Political, and Educational State.” In recent years, topics have touched upon such subjects as World Migrations, Intrepid Women, Africa, the Sea, Food, Wonders of the World, and Famous Letters.

Once a topic is chosen by the membership for the upcoming year, papers are assigned to individual members. The task of writing and polishing a paper for presentation often involves extensive research in which the local libraries have provided invaluable assistance. Each year small donations to the Camden and Rockport libraries have served to express the club members’ appreciation for the resources made available.

In her toast, Ann Montgomery, whose 57-year membership in the club is the longest of anyone living, recalled the days of her husband’s grandmother, a founder of the club, when ladies traveled to meetings by horse and buggy or, if the meeting was in Rockport, by streetcar. They took their sewing and participated in discussions of events and issues far from Maine shores.

“This club has always had a worldwide sense to it,” she said. “The club survived two world wars, the Great Depression, many world entanglements, and still these 30 women continued to meet every Monday afternoon in each other’s homes.”

 

Corallie Murray said in her poem:

If ghosts could return from that first Monday meeting,

I think they’d approve of what they’d be seeing.

The changes are less than you might believe,

For the aims are the same, though looks might deceive.

The evening concluded with members joining together to sing Auld Lang Syne, an appropriate end to the celebration marking the quasquicentennial celebration of a club which, in the words of Ann Montgomery, “has always been a loving social exercise.”