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Women’s club centennial a remarkable event

August 8, 2014
Estherville News

Today, the Midway Country Club celebrates 100 years of women coming together with a common cause of helping each other and others.

It was 1914 - the same year war broke out in Europe - that a group of country women between Gruver and Dolliver decided to meet in their homes and discuss issues of the day and to find companionship.

To understand the reasons for the club, it's important to understand what Emmet County - and Iowa - was like in 1914.

First of all, there were no paved roads. In fact, there were few if any gravel roads. Roads consisted of barely improved wagon trails that remained essentially unchanged since the days when wagon trains crossed the grass an early traveler once remarked "was as high as a man on a horse".

Without decent roads, cars were largely regarded as a novelty. Just about everyone still had a horse or two and a wagon to get to town, mainly for church or to buy groceries or supplies. White country church steeples spiked the rolling hills of northern Iowa. And there was a reason for those churches. It took so long to go to town that people made it maybe once a month.

There was a town maybe every four to six miles - about as far as a person could comfortably ride a horse and wagon. And if you went any distance, it was by train.

Life for the pioneer woman and the next generation or two after her was stark, lonely and desolate. Suicide among them was common.

It was only natural that women would want to get together, have coffee, share what their children said and did and just have companionship in general. That was the reason women's clubs were so popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

So if our society and technology is so different today than it was then, why do women's clubs still exist?

Companionship would still have to be a big reason. Even a little boy who ever eavesdropped on a conversation among a group of women then compared it to a conversation among a group of men would know the difference. The late novelist Frederick Manfred, who once called it "the farmyard compared to the kitchen", nailed it on the head.

We congratulate the Midway Country Club on its hundred years. And we hope the club continues to bring women together to discuss their common issues, needs and, yes, companionship.

It was a great idea a hundred years ago, and it's still a great idea now.



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