Womans Club: Movers And Shakers For 86 Years

Group has raised money for hospital, library, war bonds


The Payson Womans Club has attracted women who want to make a difference in their community for the last 86 years.

They are women who baked, sewed and took to the stage to make a hospital and a library real.


The Juniorettes plan to enter a scrapbook of their activities at the national women's club conference. This page shows the self-defense class they took. "We learned how to take people down to the ground by twisting their wrist," Alysa Senita, Juniorette photographer and calling chairman said.

"We burned up two deep fryers making "spudnuts," if anyone knows what those are, raising funds for a hospital," Elaine Drorbaugh said.

A spudnut is a raised donut made with potato dough.

A newspaper article form 1977 records that the PWC achieved one of their short-term objectives. They gave $2,200 to Neil Monaco "for the furnishing on one room in the new hospital."

At the club's inception, members voted that one third of dues and funds raised was to be used to buy library books.

"The club accumulated 30,000 books for our library, which were deeded to the Town of Payson as a gift in 1987," Anna Mae Deming wrote in "Payson Womans Club -- from the beginning."

Founding member Julia Randall set the cornerstone in 1949 of the building that would house the club on the east side and the library on the west.

The women's previous clubhouse was a ramshackle building with a two-seater powder room out back. Prior to 1932, the building was "Frenchy" Paquette's bootleg outlet.


Currently there are 22 teens learning leadership skills and the power of giving.

"If it is to be, it is up to me," is the motto they chose.

They meet at the club at 3:30 p.m. the first Monday of each month (except the September meeting is on the 10th.) After they conduct the business portion, there is sometimes a speaker. Su Connell spoke to the girls on the topic of empowerment at one meeting. After that, the girls make crafts -- bookmarks, soap petals and other items to sell at the November Hollyberry Fair.

The Juniorettes is open to girls ages 10 to 17. Dues are $20 per year.

"The Juniorettes are cute and so energetic," Nansi Conrad, a PWC member since 2001 said.

PWC began a Junior group in 1953.

Now the club shares a lament similar to other civic groups. Membership in the club of people in their 20s, 30s and 40s is slim.

"We need more young people to come in," Deming said.

All money raised stays in the community

They raise money from bake, rummage and craft sales then donate the funds to causes and give scholarships each year.

Meeting notes from Nov. 25, 1945 record $196.67 cash received at the "Bazaar."

At that same meeting, "Mrs. Owens moved that the club buy $25 in war bonds."

Big Brother Big Sisters, the library's summer reading program, and the senior center are among the recipients of the nearly $4,000 PWC has awarded so far in 2007.

A couple years ago, Margaret McNeil was in Payson scouting for a home. She stopped at the Womans Club's annual holiday fund-raiser.

"What impressed me the most was the Hollyberry Fair. I do lots of arts and crafts myself. The lady working the bake sale table made me feel so comfortable," McNeil said.

McNeil went on her way with a membership application. A year later, after she settled into her new home, she joined the club.

Now she is busy making bonnets for the "Juniorettes" to wear in the 125 Anniversary of Payson parade.

The beginning

The Womans Club boasted a charter membership of 34 in 1921 -- a whopping 22.67 percent of Payson's population.

Lena Chilson was the first president.

It is the oldest club in Payson.

The club has owned a gold mine, a fish hatchery and still owns and cares for the Payson Pioneer Cemetery, according to Deming.

"The history these women know is amazing. I have never seen a group of ladies get along as well as this group does," Anita White said. White is in her fourth year as president.

The club is working on expansion plans for a possible gift shop, a room where the Juniorettes can craft, a meeting room and a commercial kitchen that may be rented out, White said.

PWC meets at 1 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at 510 W. Main Street. They have a luncheon at varying locations at 11:30 a.m. every fourth Tuesday. Dues are $22 per year.

For more information, contact Anita White at (928) 474-5999 or e-mail anitawhite@npgcable.com.

Name is Payson Womans Club not women's club

The name of the organization is the "Payson Womans Club" -- not Women's, Womens or Woman.

According to 76-year member Anna Mae Deming, Miss Julia Randall, a founding member and Payson's first schoolteacher, said "Womans" was grammatically correct.

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