Monday, April 26, 2010
THE NOON DAY CLUB
“What Nature has writ
with her lusty wit
Is Worded so wisely and kindly
That whoever has dipped
in her manuscript
Must up and follow her blindly
Now the Summer prime
is her blithest rhyme
In the being and the seeming,
And they that have heard the overword
Know life’s dream worth dreaming.”
-Wm. Ernest Henley- Echoes
The Lakeside Noon Day Club was formed in 1895. It remains one of the oldest Lakeside clubs still in existence. Well over one hundred years old, the club was organized based on the 19Th century tradition of women’s literary clubs. Their constitution reads, “The object of this club shall be the literary and social advancement of women”. The Noon Day Club was by invitation only and when a woman was nominated, the members must vote her in. Membership was limited and the total number never exceeded more than eighteen. Women were expected to present papers each month on various topics such as science, education, history, government and current events. The in-depth papers presented were critiqued followed by a discussion on the topic presented. If a woman presented an inferior paper she was told by the presenter, she had not done well. Some of the members had college educations. The program was a vigorous, multi layered and very exclusive way for a woman to achieve an education beyond the classrooms of a university.
The club’s motto was, “Light, More Light”, -Goethe-.
Margaret Herman was nominated for membership. She was voted into the exclusive circle of members and by 1927 was serving on the executive committee. She was also the club’s treasurer. By 1935, Margaret was the secretary, she had moved up the club’s officer ladder and she was still serving on the executive committee. Margaret was in her element. Her first paper was presented as part of the wider topic, “Educational Aspects of New York”.
Throughout her membership, Margaret presented papers and led discussions on topics from South America, women and their status in 1803, and American women in government. Margaret had filled her mind with knowledge and this education was her fulfillment of something, which had been denied to her because of circumstance and gender. It was not to be a forbidden fruit anymore. When it was offered to her on a golden plate, she took not only the plate, but also second and third helpings. Margaret was once again, right where she wanted to be. The Noon Day Club would often meet at the lighthouse and when her husband became the Head Keeper, he made sure to record it in the logbook. Margaret was a busy person and she was becoming more and more involved in the Lakeside Community as well as her church.
When Margaret began to flourish, she accomplished something beyond the confines of what society expected of her sex. Margaret went on to be a member of the Women’s Society for Christian Service, and the Lakeside Yard and Garden Club. She taught the Adult Church School and given the intellectual atmosphere of the community, that was not an easy task for someone who did not posses a college degree.
The Lakeside Community had been a vacation home to an American President. It had also opened its doors to famous women suffragettes and reformers. When Margaret stepped into her political role during the Great War, she was rewarded with an intellectual fulfillment for all her efforts. She had as a woman achieved the right to vote and the right to a higher education. The Noon Day Club had provided women the right to a higher education since 1895 with a curriculum equal to many colleges. Margaret, it seems, like her mother before her, had done remarkable well for herself.
Noon Day Club Booklets digitally reproduced with permission. Courtesy of The Lakeside Heritage Society Archives.