In 1925, Ralph Beaver Strassburger, publisher of the Norristown Times-Herald had an idea. He wanted to create an organization consisting of all the people who had lived in Montgomery County for fifty years or more. The club would have no political or religious ties, there would be no dues, just a social group meant to bring old friends together. So, he printed blank membership forms in his paper. Soon over 2000 people had joined and the Fifty Year Club of Montgomery County was born.
The first outing was held on August 7, 1925 at Normandy Farm. Over 1200 members attended. The Times-Herald provided the food for free, which included 3500 bottles of soft drinks, a lunch a roast beef, lamb, tongue, beans, relishes, and cakes, followed by over 300 gallons of ice cream. After lunch the members elected their first club president, Dr. Willoughby H. Reed (who was also a very active member of the Historical Society).
Then the members enjoyed an afternoon of sing-a-longs and quoits. This became the standard entertainment at the annual picnic. The Historical Society has two Fifty Year Club editions of the Times-Herald, produced for the picnics of 1929 and 1931.
These miniature newspapers provide club news as well as a program of events and lyrics to many popular old songs such as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and “Pack Up Your Troubles.” Not surprisingly there was also a song written just for the club to the tune of “There’s a Long, Long Trial.”
So, whatever happened to the Fifty Year Club? The records in our collection end in 1931. We’d love to know more about the club so if you have any information, please let us know in the comments.