‘Time to call it a day’

Published 9:49 am Wednesday, May 19, 2010

For more than a century, women in Austin have gathered to share tales of far off lands and discuss art and history. For a time, this fashionable ladies’ club was famous in town for donning the most becoming head wear when they got together. And on Tuesday, 107 years after Elizabeth Hormel called the first meeting to order, the ladies of The Art & Travel Club hung up their hats for good.

President of the local club and 20-year member, Marion Tangren, said the longtime club is disbanding because of their aging membership.

“So, we decided that this was time to call it a day,” she said.

They held their final meeting and luncheon Tuesday at the Hormel Historic Home, complete with a special farewell cake, and a presentation on the history of the group by treasurer and almost 40-year member, C. Helm.

The club began in 1903 by Elizabeth Hormel, the elder sister of George Hormel, founder of the Hormel Foods Corp. It began as an art club, and meetings were held in members’ homes, Helm explained.

Over time, travel was incorporated into the club, and meetings included presentations by members and non-members on topics ranging from fashion to fine art, and from health to world politics.

In the earlier years, the club often put together skits, with costumes and all, during their meetings, Helm said.

George Hormel’s wife, Lillian, was also a club member and when the couple left their Austin home for California they gave it to the YWCA with the intent that it would house all local women’s organizations, Helm said.

Meetings were held in the now-named Hormel Historic Home (HHH) until they moved to the Cedars of Austin apartments years ago to make transportation easier for members, said HHH executive director Laura Helle.

At its final meeting, The Art & Travel Club counted 14 women in its membership. Helm said as many as 40 women have been club members at one time, and for several decades club membership was by invite only.

“We’ve had a very wonderful time over the years,” Helm said. “This was a very nice way to call it to an end.”

Before calling the meeting to a close Tuesday, Tangren told the ladies that she has enjoyed the club and that it has been good to her.

“This is our last meeting, our last hurrah… Does anybody have anything else to say? If not, forever hold your peace. We are adjourned, forever.”

Scrapbooks and archives of the Art & Travel Club will be kept at the Hormel Historic Home, available for view.