Johnson City celebrated our Sesquicentennial Sunday, December 1. Many hours, an army of volunteers and much money went into planning the various components of the Sesquicentennial over the past twenty-two months that the Sesquicentennial Commission and the attendant committees met to pour over plans that would allow every member of the community to participate in at least one event.  It was the honor of my life to be on the Sesquicentennial Commission and to chair it briefly.  This work was all significant.

The weather on the Sesquicentennial was bright, sunny, about 55 degrees, and quite windy.  It would have been a grand day for kite-flying!  In 1886, between December 3rd and 5th , three feet of snow fell in Johnson City.  Charles Edwin Price wrote of this event in I’d Rather Have a Talking Frog.  All these decades later, we would  be paralyzed for days if we had that significant snowfall in a matter of hours.  Let’s hope we don’t get to add this to our experiences!

With some news events in life you always remember where you were when you heard the news.  For those who were old enough to remember December 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was bombed, that is one of those events.  I remember asking my parents what their recollection was of that day.  My father said one of their neighbors called his father around 2:00 p.m. and told him to turn on the radio.  For the rest of the day, only essential farm chores were performed as the family stayed inside and listened to the radio.  My mother recounted a very similar story.  Truly, one of the significant events in the life of the United States and the world. 

Let’s talk about something more pleasant. 

Those who know me well know of my appreciation of, and interest in,  membership based organizations.   Truly, they are the fabric of society.  As fabric goes, so goes society.

Why are membership-based organizations important?  If they truly are the fabric of society, what does that mean?  What does that look like?

An organization’s members are the warp of the fabric, while the mission of the organization is the fabric’s weft.   (Warp fibers are the fibers that run lengthwise in a fabric.  Weft fibers, sometimes called woof fibers, are the fibers that run the width of the fabric.)  You can’t have one without the other because if you do, a hole exists! 

The December 8, 1910 issue of The Comet , the first newspaper in Johnson City, reported that The Commercial Club, which was “for all people”,  had inaugurated a plan to increase its membership.  Until December 12 of that year, a membership campaign would be held.  On the 12th, club members planned to call on the “men of the town and wage them to become members of the organization.”  To make membership more attractive, dues were reduced from $12 a year to $6.  Members were urged to “promote the power of the club, the growth of the city and the developments of the surrounding country.”  It sounds like The Commercial Club was a bit like the present-day Chamber of Commerce.

On December 9, 1968, the Johnson City Evening Rotary Club received the provisional charter, according to History of Washington County, Tennessee.  In the 51 years since, that Rotary Club along with every other Rotary Club worldwide has performed much significant service.   I’m proud to be a Rotarian!

For more information about Rotary International, I invite you to visit this website:

I’d be remiss to leave out a reference I found in the Archives of Appalachia to the Junior Service League, now the Junior League of Johnson City, arguably the premier membership based organization for women in the entire world. The Archives have a clipping from the Johnson City Press-Chronicle on December 9, 1979 stating that JSL  members would staff The Christmas House for local children.  The children could choose gifts for their family and friends away from the peering parental eyes.  They could also play games and hear Christmas stories.  I’ve often said, “The Junior League.  I can’t imagine my life without it.”  And I say it proudly once again!

If you’d like to learn more about the Association of Junior Leagues, International, I hope you’ll go to this website:

Finally, let’s close out this week’s blog by something Plato wrote centuries ago that’s still true today. The December 12, 1895 issue of The Comet  quoted Plato:  “I call education the virtue which is shown by children when the feelings of joy or of sorrow, of love or hate, which arise in their souls, are made conformable to order.” 

I invite your comments below.

Copyright,  December 2, 2019 by Rebecca Henderson

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