Greene County Volunteer Firemen's Association - Ladies Auxiliary
copied from the Centennial Booklet One-Hundred Years of Fire Service History 1889-1989, by Sharon Palmateer
The Ladies Auxiliary of the Greene County Volunteer Firemen's Association was organized at East Durham, New York on September 16, 1930. The first President was Mrs. Seth Cole.
In the beginning, meetings were held at firehouses, town halls or restaurants. After each meeting a sit-down dinner was served by the members of the hosting auxiliary. There was an average of twenty-five members attending the meeting and dinner. The ladies enjoyed a variety of mouth-watering delicacies. Spaghetti, ham or chicken dinners with all the trimmings were among the favorites. At every meeting, the membership increased. By the 1960's, there were approximately seventy-five ladies in attendance at each meeting. With such a high attendance, the County Ladies Auxiliary found it difficult to obtain an auxiliary to host quarterly meetings. So, a motion was passed that the procession of meeting places would be in alphabetical order of the auxiliary names. In 1967, this was changed. From then until now, the meetings are hosted by a volunteer auxiliary.
The Greene County Ladies Auxiliary became incorporated in September 1961. This was necessary in order to accept donations. Rose Benjamin, Dorothy Persons and Genevieve Quakenbush met with John Fromer, attorney. Five signatures were needed. The signers were Mae Forrester, Rose Benjamin, Dorothy Persons, Florence Hoovler and Laura Baldwin. The fee was $50.
An annual spring banquet was enjoyed by the ladies. This was separate from the annual meeting and dinner as we know it today. It was discontinued in 1972.
Annual meetings were held on Saturday mornings. Dinners on another date. Later, it was decided to have the annual meeting and the dinner on the same night to obtain better attendance. The following year, this procedure was done. The attendance at this meeting was more than expected and some ladies had to be served their dinner at another place. The ladies did not like this. A motion was passed to have reservations sent in by each auxiliary president. This was to be done two weeks in advance to avoid confusion. The largest number of ladies attending a dinner was in 1973, with 280 present at the Friar Tuck Inn.
There were many committees formed over the years. The Sunshine Committee was one of the first, along with the By-laws, Auditing, Nominating, Executive and Christmas Party at the Firemen's Home Committee. The Sunshine Committee had many changes over the years. In the beginning, a gift of flowers amounting to $2.00 was sent to a person who was ill. Then, cards and flowers were sent in the event of a death. Today, the auxiliary sends a card to the family and a donation to the Firemen's Home in the deceased's name in the event of a death.
Memorial Services were designated to be held at the May meeting. Candlelight services were introduced in 1964. Today, the service is conducted by the Chaplain, assisted by various members of the auxiliaries. The deceased are remembered by a ring of the bell and a rose in placed on the Bible.
After years of discussion and participation in parades, the Ladies Auxiliary now has two members serving on the Parade Rules and Regulation Committee.
The activities of the Ladies Auxiliary have been varied and many. Craft auctions, doll raffles, bake sales, grocery raffles, 200 Club and 400 Club, tours, Chinese Auctions, mock food sales and 'Games of Chance' have been held to raise funds for the treasury.
Some of the rewards of these fund raising events have benefited the Firemen's Home in Hudson, New York with a Century Therapy Tub, televisions, electric bed, chair cushions, wheelchair, furbished a room and a sizable donation towards the Home's famous bus - 'Big Red'.
In 1979-80, the Ladies Auxiliary sponsored a 400 Club. This fund raising event raised $7000 for the purchase of a Cardiac Defibrillator for the Burn Unit in Albany Medical Center. This machine provides the EKG type readings on a patient and also has the capability of defibrillating the patient should heart failure be imminent.
The Ladies Auxiliary has supported the County Association by giving them Officer's Badges, a pole and holster for their Greene County Flag, a bunting, plaques for the parade car and help to defray the expense of the Past Presidents' dinners.
Three meetings are held during the year. With her gavel, the President declares the meeting open and the Colors are escorted in. A prayer is given by the Chaplain and the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, followed by the regular order of business. The annual meeting and dinner are held in September with the election of officers and annual reports.
Activities that have been enjoyed over the years after the meetings have been slide presentations, guest speakers, auctions and delicious light refreshments.
The Greene County Ladies Auxiliary holds certificates of membership in the Hudson Valley Volunteer Firemen's Association Ladies Auxiliary and the Ladies Auxiliary Firemen's Association of the State of New York. We are represented at their conventions by our own delegates from Greene County. At present, we are very proud to have two ladies from our own auxiliary to serve as officers of the Hudson Valley Volunteer Firemen's Association Ladies Auxiliary.
In closing, we are very happy and proud to help the Greene County Firemen's Association celebrate 100 years of dedicated service and we are looking forward to the future.