Club History: Early Club Memories from Avery Lee Williams

I was 45 years old in September of 1979 when I joined the Easton Lions Club. I just finished 40 years of membership. Only Charlie Hammond and Jerry Deneault are longer term members than I. I had been asked to join our club many times before, but the timing was just not right for me. I simply went to Lou Piantoni’s house and asked for a membership application. In the previous decade I had been involved in and had served as President of the Easton and Massachusetts Jaycees and after that the State President and National Board member of an organization called Zero Population Growth, whose goal was to bring about a stabilized world population through voluntary methods. (good luck on that one!)

I immediately became an active Lion member. I brought with me such basic organizational skills as re-introducing a club newsletter, having agendas for meetings and getting some semblance of parliamentary procedure into our meetings. I was not focused in the first few years on recruiting, but managed to bring in 3 or 4 new members each year. In the first seven years of my membership I was named “Lion of the Year” six times.(Bill Kempf won the other year). I served two years as club Secretary under Bill Kempf & Charlie Barboza.

     We had less than 30 members when I joined and were drawing 12 to 15 to a meeting. Some names I recall from early days were: Duke Duhamel, “Red” Cuzner, Ike Boone, Paul Tanner, Joe Techiera, Bob Govey, Charlie Hammond, Bill Kempf,Manny Fernandes, Louie Freitas,& Charlie Barboza. George Brodie was on the roster. I’m told that he ran a dog show for several years for the club at the Villa Rosa (Property where Queset on the pond now sits). Arthur Yardley was inactive at my joining, but was a key player prior to my coming aboard. A big project was selling light bulbs door to door. Another good fundraiser was scrap paper collection. It brought good money for several years. We had a truck trailer at the Fernandes Super Market lot (now Villages Shoppes across from Hilliards) and Charlie Hammond was tasked with going up every couple days and piling the stringed packets of paper up to the front of the trailer.       

     We were meeting at the Tally Ho (convenience store there now at Highland and Foundry)  when I joined, but moved to the LePages Steak house on Route 138 (about across from Tanner Ford) That only lasted about a year as I recall and we went to the 400 Club (site of 555 Washington St CVS) . From there we went to the LePages Steak  House on Route 138 (near old Tanner Ford) From there we went to the Diplomat for many years. Dave Gomes was a Lion and gave us a real good deal.              

     Some fresh blood had joined the Easton Lions Club a few years prior to my joining. They included Lou Piantoni, Ed Marcheselli, Leo Kobs, Tom Hedrick & Jerry Deneault. Kobs was a ball of fire. He introduced a 50/50 long term raffle that raised good money for several years. He was chair of the TV Auction for 3 or 4 years and did a great job. I was chair one year. I ran a coupon book project (discounts & 2 for 1 meals, etc) for three years that was profitable, but a real dog for details, so was dropped. Kobs ran a long term raffle that worked pretty well as a fund raiser.

     At the “Dip” I came up with the idea for an Administrative Auction. I had some experience with auctions in the Jaycees. Our first auctioneer was Joe Carvalho and Bob Murphy was collector of goods to sell. I passed auction items to Joe and he did the selling. He was not comfortable with that role and I gradually took it over. Once at the Dip our membership crossed 40 and we brought in such stalwarts as Joe Walton, Joe Carvalho, Dan Churchill, Allen Soucia, Allen Siegal, Paul Tanner (the younger), John Foye, Peter Dost, Rich Freitas, Sherm Caswell, Moses Mendes. Many of them were old Jaycees. Dan Churchill introduced the idea of the Fund Screening Committee. This is one of the most important ideas that we’ve adopted. Many Lions Clubs do battle over fund expenditures at their general membership meetings that lead to strong differences of opinion that tend to cause dissension in the ranks and loss of members..               

     In 2008 I had lunch in Bonita Springs, Florida with Jan & Skip Davis. They showed Betty and me the local Lions Club Thrift Store. That’s where I got the idea for our operation. When I got home I talked to Don Tuck about it and he went to work on getting goods to sell while I lined up the use of the old Grange hall. The rest is history.

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