Strongsville Women’s League From the Beginning
The SWL History
as told by Louise Bedford
In the winter of 1952-53, a few energetic Strongsville gals talked of starting a young mother’s club. Postcards were sent out to all Strongsville women who had children under two years of age or who were known to be p.g. Response to the postcards was sufficient enough for a group of us to hold our first meeting at the home of Pat Carpenter, who then lived on Westwood Drive. The prerequisites for membership in this somewhat “select” group were, as I said, either to have children under the age of one or two, or to be in the sad or happy state, as the case may have been, of being pregnant. Most of us gathered at Pat’s home that wintry evening met both requirements.
We decided to call ourselves the Cradle Club, and our purpose was to help each other in our efforts to successfully raise children. We stuck together for several years and met once a month in each other’s homes. Among the original members of this group were Pat Carpenter, Betty Yager, Elna Allwood, Laverne Thwaite, Stanlene Zimmerman, Clare Gifford Hall, Dolores Jones, Dee Homa, Doris Hutton, myself and a few others whom I just can’t remember.
As time went on and our children aged beyond two and we still had mutual problems, we decided to stay together for a bit longer – so we merely changed our bylaws and increased the age limits of our children. Then as more time went on, some of us decided that we had outgrown the name Cradle Club so we changed it to the Stromere Club. We just ignored the fact the kids were now over three.
During the Cradle Club days, we sponsored a Nursery School which was help three mornings a week in the old Methodist Church. Betty Yager was our teacher for much of the time we maintained the school. It was at this time that we met a delightful person who was later to assist us not only with our Nursery School and other projects, but also with the organization of our Strongsville Women’s League. Her name, Edna Brun.
In the early part of 1958, Betty Yager was contacted by one of the Berea Women’s League members as to the possibility of starting a club here in Strongsville. It was an opportunity for those of us who had hopefully passed the p.g. era and were now ready to enroll our kiddies in kindergarten to move forward into community service.
We were invited to visit a meeting of the Berea Women’s League, and this we did. It was at this time that the Berea Women’s League was working with the hospital Board to construct the snack bar in the hospital, and I think we were so overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of this group to work out and complete projects, that we immediately began to have organization meetings to draft the by-laws for our Strongsville Women’s League.
During the weeks that followed, Edna Brun, Doris Thwaite, Jessie Jardine, Ann Cole, and Ardis Williams joined with the former Stromere Club members - Laverne Thwaite, Dolores Jones, Pat Carpenter, Betty Yager and myself - to form the Strongsville Women’s League.
Our first official meeting was held at the home of Betty Yager on June 4, 1958. Marge Kuzma, Jeanne Squire, and Ruth Aikey from the sponsoring Berea group were our guests and installed the officers, who were President, Laverne Thwaite, Vice President, Edna Brun, Secretary, Louise Bedford, and Treasurer, Dolores Jones. If my memory serves me right, Pat Carpenter was our first keeper of the points. And I know that Edna took care of Ways and Means from the very first…and believe it or not, our first projects were pie baskets and nuts.
Ellen Siedel was then writing the Strongsville column for the Berea news, and in the article which she submitted after our installation, the purpose of the group was thus stated: The object of the Strongsville Women’s League is to promote civic interests by contributing its best in leadership and service to the community.
I have omitted the agony of the many organizational meetings and the long hours of work. This is now passé. However, we have come a long way in our years – membership grew slowly at first, but then as the community began to develop, so did our group. Now you are one of the most active service units in our community. Without your efforts, we would be lacking in recognition. Your efforts to preserve our heritage and our historical buildings have been gratifying to many of us who are descended from families who first settled our area. Your efforts toward the development and well being of our children have not gone unrewarded and unappreciated. The discouragement we experienced during our first year proved to be a challenge; the challenge persisted and grew as each year went on, however, the next years will be an even greater challenge to those of you who are faithful to the purposes and ideals of the league, and who are conscientious in seeking their fulfillment.
May I please add – The Strongsville Women’s League owes itself to the efforts of one person – more than anyone else – ant that person is Edna, who exemplifies your high ideals. Without her perseverance and knowledge, your organization would not be what it is today.