The Emanon Club (an Ames neighborhood social club) was established
October 28, 1929 to promote neighborhood friendliness. Nell Berry,
Louise Carlson, Clare Fitz, Eula Hiland, Carrie Link, Grace Murphy, Jean
Stone, and Lillian Larson were the group’s founding members. The
club’s territory originally included homes on Roosevelt Avenue between
10th and 13th Streets; later, the territory expanded to include Marston
Avenue. However, club membership was limited to 24 (due to the size
of most living rooms), and new members were admitted by vote. The
group met monthly in members’ homes to socialize, enjoy an evening program,
or sew for charity. An annual picnic has been held in the neighborhood
since 1930. The group continues as an active club to this day.
A History of the Emanon Club, Ames, Iowa by Stacey Ross
The Emanon Club (no-name spelled backwards) began with Nell Berry’s surprise party on October 28, 1929. Eight ladies wanted to surprise their neighbor after she had recently recovered from an illness, and that evening they decided to start a women’s club for their developing neighborhood. Today, at 76 years, the Emanon Club is Ames’ oldest continuing neighborhood association.
A typical meeting includes three parts: a program, a business meeting, and dessert. Programs of the past have included discussions of flower arranging, napkin folding, travel abroad, collecting African violets, or solutions to war-time beauty problems. Sometimes the hostess gives the program herself; other times, she invites a guest to educate and entertain. During the business meeting, attendance is taken, hospitality chairs report on the news from their street, and plans are made for future meetings. The evening always closes with dessert and coffee, allowing the women time to socialize.
Through the 1970s, it was typical for around twenty members to attend a meeting. As homes in this area are not large (my own living room is 10’x15’), a hostess often had to go to great lengths to prepare for the evening meeting: one senior member remembers removing the television and other large pieces of furniture to accommodate everyone. Today’s meetings, however, tend to attract a smaller crowd (usually no more than ten members), making their setup a bit easier.
The Emanon Club maintains some timeworn traditions. Each October, the members celebrate Emanon’s anniversary with a potluck supper—in the 1940s and 50s, this event was often a masquerade or hard-times party, with prizes for best costumes. The December meeting features a gift exchange and sometimes includes entertainment provided by the neighborhood children. (When our gift exchange began in 1932, the price limit was ten cents; today, inflation has raised the limit to one dollar.)
An important component of Emanon’s holiday meeting has always been a consideration of those less fortunate. Today, we collect nonperishable foods for donation to the local food pantry, but before these agencies existed, food and homemade blankets were given directly to local families in need.
Off and on since 1930, the club has hosted a neighborhood-wide potluck picnic in June. People of all ages share food and good stories as we get to know our neighbors. Also, since the Club’s 50th anniversary, we have celebrated major anniversaries by enjoying a dinner out with some of our former members.
As members and their families pass life’s milestones,
the ladies of Emanon have been at the ready with a small but memorable
gift. For many years, a handkerchief was the standard gift for a
member moving away from the neighborhood (and thus giving up her membership).
On one occasion, three members were leaving around the same time and Florence
Austrheim called it a three hankie affair [March 22, 1978, Emanon
Reading through the minutes kept from each Emanon meeting since the Club’s inception, one gets a feel for the passage of time and how our changing culture is reflected locally:
More Excerpts from Emanon Minutes 1929—1999
(back to About Ames)