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Men’s Club plans open house on March 29

By Staff | Mar 13, 2009

The Men’s Club’s War Memorial Building is located at King and German streets. Photo by E. Ours

“The latchstring is out at the Men’s Club,” Shepherdstown Men’s Club President Mike Austin exclaims when explaining the high expectations he has for the organization.

The Men’s Club has long been the center of activities in Shepherdstown since the end of World War II when it acquired the War Memorial Building and began providing services to the community. It subsequently added Morgan’s Grove Park to it operations.

At the present time Morgan’s Grove is operated under a lease arrangement by the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Commission in order to provide facilities in the northern part of the county.

Austin comments that many area residents he talks with often recount pleasant memories of events at the War Memorial Building or Morgan’s Grove that were an important part of growing up in Shepherdstown. “We are working to preserve and expand that aspect of living in Shepherdstown and the surrounding communities,” he adds. In order to raise awareness of what it offers, the Men’s Club will be holding on open house on Sunday March 29 from 4 to 6 p.m. Members of the new board will be present to meet and greet the community and all past club officers are being encouraged to attend to reconnect with old friends and help reach out to the new generation of area families. Light refreshments will be served and the walls of the club will be decorated with an exhibit provided by our local “Friday Painters” art group.

Austin explains that the “latchstring” was an important part of our rich colonial era culture in humble homes of local farm families. The latchstring was a leather thong that was fed through a hole in the face of the front door that controlled a locking device. When the latchstring was out it indicated that the family was “at home” and welcomed visitors. When such visits were not convenient, it was simply pulled in thus denying entrance. The tradition followed the American families as they pursued our “manifest destiny” in the great trek west. It lasted into the early 1900s. Austin commented that, “he could think of no better way of expressing how the Men’s Club feels about its community.”

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The club offers monthly dinners to its members and short programs on a variety of topics that are open to the public. The SMC actively shares its facilities with other philanthropic and non- profit organizations in the community. It rents the War Memorial Building at nominal fees for other special events in order to raise funds to maintain the building and Morgan’s Grove.

The next major event in the works is the annual Back Alley Tour, Tea Party and Art Exhibit that will be held on May 23 and 24. A 4th of July Picnic in conjunction with the local Rotary Club, a Labor Day Picnic with the traditional Rohrersville Band concert and the annual Men’s Club Book Sale are also major evens on this year’s calendar. Numerous other activities are in the planning stages and suggestions and inputs from SMC members and the community at large is welcomed.

Additional information about the Shepherdstown Men’s Club is posted on its Web Site www.SMC25443.org Contact information on officers and board members is included and the agenda for upcoming board meetings is also posted each month.