The little red building on Goat Creek Road filled up quickly on Oct. 26 for the Mazama Community Club Autumn Potluck and Annual Meeting. Soon the former schoolhouse was abuzz with club members and curious others amidst the aroma of favorite potluck dishes. I was one of the curious about the origin of the club and its current mission.
With a little research, I learned that a Mazama club of some sort or other has been around since the World War II era. In 1943, a group called The Ladies Club purchased the Mazama Schoolhouse, built in 1921, from the school district for $300 and met there as a social club.
In the 1950s, the county extension office rebranded the club into a “How To Do Club” where ladies could learn homemaking skills such as canning and cleaning. Really? Dropping the home economics theme in the 1970s, the ladies met as the Mazama Woman’s Club where pinochle parties were the mainstay.
During all of the formative years, the club held other events such as anniversary parties, barn dances and even a dark sky watch project in the early 1950s. In the heart of World War II, the ladies of the club met with their sewing machines in tow to complete their quota of sewing for the Red Cross.
A 1979 Mazama Community Club (MCC) recipe book discovered by club secretary Louise Stevens at the annual Twisp used book sale noted: “It was not very long ago that the women in the area decided to stop being sexists — and everyone was allowed to join the Mazama Community Club.”
The attendees at the meeting and potluck this year were equally men and women, all pitching in to get the little schoolroom ready for dinner.
The potluck was a “Leave No Waste Behind” event where everyone brought his or her own non-disposable plates, cups, utensils and napkins. The most creative dinner setting belonged to Louise Stevens, for which she received a prize.
The current mission of MCC was well addressed by President Midge Cross in her enthusiastic opening words. She spoke of the uniqueness of the club in a community of only a couple hundred people. Fondly, she spoke of their “humble” clubhouse with its colorful history and their responsibility to take care of it. (She pointed out that the U.S. flag that was discovered in a closet, rejuvenated and framed only has 48 stars, which dates it sometime between 1912 when Arizona joined the union as the 48th state and 1959 when Alaska and Hawaii became states.)
MCC is fiscally sound, especially since receiving a large bequest from Red McComb, a proactive Mazama resident who passed away a few years ago. The board has considered some upgrades and maintenance for the clubhouse and property, but is taking time to make wise choices for the use of the club’s funds.
The building is available to rent for community events for a modest fee, which may be waived for some public events. The most notable fundraising event sponsored by the club is the World Famous Pancake Breakfast, which is generally held in conjunction with the Mazama Fun Run that Alison Naney of Cascade Endurance has organized the past few years.
The evening concluded with Louise Stevens presenting a history lesson with slides highlighting the structures — some still existing, some long gone — on the road between Winthrop and Mazama. Among those listening were some who have lived through many of the years of changing Methow history. A photo of Elinore Kent-Drake’s childhood home, still standing on Highway 20, no doubt evoked memories for her. Doug Devin, who authored the comprehensive book “Mazama: The Past 125 Years,” was also in attendance.
Mazama Community Club members are passionate about their community, and their clubhouse is a gathering place reminiscent of days gone by. New members of the community are encouraged to join and be a part of perpetuating this special institution.
Reminder: Mazama Store sponsors a spooktacular Halloween event. Costumed children and parents, please arrive at the store at 5 p.m. on Halloween to begin a pre-arranged route to eight houses in close proximity. Each house offers up something special for little goblins. When the bags are full, everyone gathers back at the store patio at about 6 p.m. for a bonfire, hot cider, pumpkin donuts, and an open beer bar for those who desire a cold one. This is a wonderful community event.
Next up: Reflections from Montana.