The Germ of a Great Idea

The year was 1915. Attendance at regular Minneapolis-St. Paul Smith Club meetings had plummetted [sic] from nearly fifty to a mere nine, but the nine who met that day in May at the home of Mrs. Eben Atwood were an intrepid and determined bunch. They agreed to form a "galvanizing committee" to "act towards inspiring the members to attend meetings," and they adopted a resolution to seek permission "for the club to select a student from the state of Minnesota to whom the club may give a scholarship." The "galvanizing committee," as part of their plan to inspire members, instituted a fall meeting "in the form of a tea at the residence of some member, to which eligible non-members were invited as guests."*

The meetings were held in October, not early September: the homes were in the city, (a trip to the Lake Minnetonka "country" being the equivalent of a journey to Brainerd today); during World War I the scholarships were discontinued in favor of raising money for the Smith Unit in France; but the idea of raising money for scholarships by means of a social event in the fall had taken root. In 1920, Mrs. Duff reconstituted the scholarship fund, raising the remarkable sum of $1055 with a showing of the film, "The Wizard of Oz," which was felt to be a better draw than its nearest contenders, "Black Beauty," and "Alice in Wonderland." "The Wizard of Oz" was followed, in succeeding years, by marionette shows, other films, and presentations by the monologuist, Mrs. Ruth Dapper. The club did, indeed, become more active, even though the St. Paul club separated from the Minneapolis club in 1921. Members met monthly at the Red Elephant Tea Shop on Hennepin Avenue.

*quoted material (throughout the "history") comes from contemporary reports.


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