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The Tuesday Afternoon Book Club. Photo by Aimee Staten.

Historic Book Clubs gathering of minds, hearts

Their resumes – should they choose to print them these days – would read like a Who’s Who of Globe and Miami, and although tea and cake is consumed on a regular basis, there is far more happening at the Tuesday and Wednesday Book Clubs’ monthly meetings than would ever occur at a regular coffee klatch.

Counted among the membership of the book clubs are teachers, administrators, superintendents, pastors, homemakers, social workers, elected officials and wives of officials – and not all of them are retired. Many who are retired, though, can trace their membership deep into the past of the local community.

“The women who started the (Tuesday) club were the movers and shakers in the community,” said Claudia Armer, current president of the Tuesday Book Club. “They were making things happen.”

The same can be said of the Wednesday Club

One would imagine these historic clubs are filled with women eager to give their accounts about the latest bodice-ripper, a term that regular readers would recognize as an explicit romantic novel set in history. One could not be more wrong. The reality is that both clubs are filled with women intent on learning more about their world through lessons from the past or from books about current issues. Armer said her club enjoys historical books, especially as they apply to women both in the past and today.

The November meeting of the Tuesday Book Club was a perfect example. Colleen DeRosa, superintendent of XX School District, was the guest reviewer. Ted Koppel’s Lights Out, an investigative report on the devastating potential of a cyberattack on the United States’ power grid, was her choice for review. 

DeRosa read excerpts from the book and shared her own thoughts on the evidence presented in the book. According to Koppel, the thread that tethers society to modern living is thin and surprisingly fragile. In the event of an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP), life as it is presently known could either be over or interrupted for extensive periods of time. There have been several attacks of electrical sub-stations that caused temporary interruptions, but, so far, the effects have been contained quickly. “There’s scant comfort in the fact that an attack hasn’t happened yet,” DeRosa read.

The review was followed by a discussion about members preparing their homes for emergencies – whether short- or long-term. Tuesday Club member Jean Sipe said it would be difficult for today’s society to return to doing so many tasks by hand. “We are talking about canning, outhouses and oil lamps,” she said.

DeRosa told the group about a visit she made to an LDS warehouse in Mesa where people can purchase bulk items. “You don’t have to be Mormon to buy from this place,” she said as she described bins of bulk grains and other foodstuffs for sale. The group also talked about the 30-day survival kits available from places like Sam’s and Costco.

The Wednesday club likes to make the books they review come alive. Pat Sage once reviewed a book about the soiled doves of LA and dressed as one, complete with feathers in her hair and on her boa shrug (pictured).  Another time, Leroy Tucker rode up to the group on a horse as they reviewed a book about pioneer families.

Both Clubs use part of their member contributions, which have gone up only slightly over the years, to benefit local libraries. 

A Little Club History

Ida Franklin, who would become the secretary of the Globe Book Club in 1933, wrote that she and her neighbor two blocks away fretted because they felt like they were “vegetating.” As former teachers, Franklin and Edith Watson were concerned about the Old Dominion Library’s lack of funding for new books, and, although they both held degrees, they felt left out because “only women who seemed very old to us were ever asked to review books” for the Literary Department.

They put their heads together and spoke to other young women with similar complaints, and a club was born. Its first review was of Flowering Wilderness by John Galsworthy, and this meeting of minds was the end of the “vegetating” state of numerous local young women and the start of a tradition that continues to this day.  Sixty years later in 1993, Franklin was mentioned in the club’s anniversary minutes as its oldest living member.

In 1945, another book club was created, mostly because of the member limitation of the older club and to accommodate younger women called the Tuesday Book Club. The new club’s membership was limited to 18 with a dime as the limit for fines.

Both book clubs are limited to the numbers indicated in their bylaws, but those restrictions were put in place so member living rooms could accommodate meetings comfortably, according to Armer. New members have to be invited, and if accepted, can be placed on a waiting list until a slot is clear.  

About Aimee Staten

Aimee Staten has worn several hats over the last few years, but she recently put on one of her more familiar caps after four years of working in nonprofits: That of a journalist. She has 14 years of experience in the news business as a reporter with eight of those years as the managing editor of the Eastern Arizona Courier.

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