Time no match for local club

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 26, 2002

The Ladies Floral Club of Austin is one of the community's oldest organizations.

In 1869, a group of 13 Austin women gathered to form the club which sold plants and flowers to raise money for books so the town could have a library.

At first, the women sold slips from plants and the money from those sales went to purchase books for their "library."

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At the time, their library was a red wagon filled with books that they pulled around town. By 1884, the women had raised enough money and had enough books that they were permitted to rent a room at the newly-built courthouse.

More than 130 years later, the club is still active in the function of the library, but the flowers are long gone.

Along the way, they also established the local chapter of the Red Cross, though their involvement has diminished significantly.

"Our main thing is the library now. (The club's name) is really a misnomer now," but attempts to change it were never approved, says Grace Conway, the club's historian.

Money they raise through various activities is used to renew magazine subscriptions and purchase books for the library.

The club also sponsors "Books for Babies," a program which gives the mothers of newborns storybooks at the hospital.

"We want to do things the public as a whole can enjoy," says Beth Johnson, a member of the group.

The work also has been enjoyable for Conway and Johnson.

Conway, a member since 1966, says, "Once you get in, you think it's so rewarding. I'm also a big history buff. I'm up to my eyeballs in genealogy … this is an outlet for me."

Johnson agrees.

"History is really intriguing for me. I love to learn about it," she said.

The club meets at 1 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month at the Hormel Home.

Membership to the club is by invitation only, but anyone interested in joining may contact Donna Nordaune at 437-1752 for more information.

Amanda L. Rohde can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at amanda.rohde@austindailyherald.com