The very first meeting of the Kingston Garden Club (KGC) was held at the Kingston Community Hall on June 16, 1950.
On January 9, 1951, the name Kingston Garden Club was chosen, a Constitution and Bylaws were adopted, and the Club voted to hold future meetings at the school cafeteria.
The Constitution and Bylaws were modeled on those of the Ni-Se-Ka Garden Club in neighboring Poulsbo. Two ladies from the Ni-Se-Ka Garden Club had briefed the Kingston ladies about how to get their club started.
Although the minutes of the first meeting reflect that “no refreshments [were] to be served”, Kingston hospitality could not be tempered for very long, and in 1951 hostesses began serving refreshments. Pot Luck luncheons were in great favor. It was commonplace for the KGC to invite members of neighboring garden clubs for teas and luncheons, and for the neighboring garden clubs to reciprocate with invitations. In April of 1959, the Kingston Garden Club hosted a luncheon attended by 20 KGC members plus 30 guests from the Silverdale, Hood Canal, Hansville, and Ni-Se-Ka Garden Clubs. Meat pies, tomato aspic, rolls, relishes and lemon fluff were served.
In addition to the Kingston Community Hall, where the very first meeting was held, and the school cafeteria, meetings during the 1950s were also held in the homes of members. The school cafeteria was located behind the 1909 schoolhouse and in the 1950s was used not only by the school children for lunch, but also by the Kingston Library and by local groups such as the KGC. When the schoolhouse became part of the County Park System in 1952, it began to be referred to in KGC meeting minutes as either the old schoolhouse, the old library building, or the “Kola Kole Clubhouse”. The library moved into one of the rooms of the
schoolhouse proper in 1952, creating a little more breathing room in the cafeteria.
KGC’s annual Christmas Party tradition began in 1950 with a Christmas Tea for which every member was asked to bring a guest, two dozen cookies, and a “pet arrangement or novelty for Christmas decoration.” The following year saw the addition of a gift exchange, caroling with Helen Ludington at the piano, and the making of a holiday swag to hang for Elma Gyger. The club’s summer picnic tradition began in 1955, when Gussie Bogan hosted the June meeting at her home on the beach.
During the first few years of the Club’s existence, all the members’ addresses were box numbers or “star route” numbers in Kingston except for Mrs. Harriet Otts of 56th in Seattle Zone 7 and Mrs. Mayrue Thoreen of Lake Grove in Tacoma Zone 9. Star routes are rural mail routes served by mail carriers who are independent contractors. The Club members’ telephone numbers during this time consisted of only four digits. Members’ names, addresses and telephone numbers were recorded on one or two pages of the notebooks used by the club’s secretaries to record minutes of the meetings.
Four flower arrangements were displayed at the November, 1950 meeting. The Exhibit Committee was created in 1951 to coordinate arrangements to be brought by members to the regular meetings, just as KGC’s modern meetings feature Design of the Day and Show and Tell. Just as the club’s modern meetings feature drawings for garden-related door prizes, in May of 1957 “Mrs. Helene Gordon was the happy winner of [a] 40 lb. bag of Moss-a-Way, the prize being contributed by the Magnolia Products.”
The Club created its first committee, the Membership Committee, at its first meeting, with Ruth Laiti being appointed Chairman. Evelyn Haley chaired the first Nominating Committee whose work resulted in the election of Dulcie Burger as club president in October of 1950. Mrs. Burger succeeded Rosemary Allen who was listed as president in the minutes of the June 16, 1950 meeting. In the photo, Mrs. Burger is seen cutting cake at KGC’s 40th anniversary celebration in 1990.
The work of the club’s third committee culminated in the January, 1951 adoption of the club’s Constitution and Bylaws. The Constitution additionally created the Program, Exhibit, Hostess, Horticultural, Publicity, and Flowers-to-Sick Committees. The Flowers-to-Sick Committee was to use its discretion as to whether the flowers be garden or professionally grown. Later committees included Garden Craft, Delegate to State Federation, Arrangements, Plant [and Flower] Sale, Cheer (in charge of get well cards), Flower Show, and Bird Committee. Many ad-hoc committees were also created to carry out the business of the KGC from time to time.
During the 1950s, KGC members were pleased to welcome many guests to their meetings and flower shows. There were countless guests from neighboring communities on the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas (Hansville, Eglon, Port Gamble, Port Ludlow, Indianola, Suquamish, Poulsbo, Lemolo, Winslow, Bainbridge Island, Keyport, Silverdale, Bremerton, East Bremerton, Gorst, Port Orchard, Port Townsend, Sequim, Belfair, Shelton), quite a number from elsewhere in Washington (Edmonds, Seattle, Freeland, Tacoma, Everett, Bothell, Mountlake Terrace, Mercer Island, Des Moines, Sedro-Woolley, Central Valley, Oroville, Wenatchee, Yakima, Curtis, Silver Lake, Cathlamet, Kelso, and Dayton), many from out of state (Alaska, California, Colorado, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and South Dakota), as well as from Canada.
The very first meeting minutes which were prepared by typewriter were those of October 19, 1954.
In 1955, Mrs. Norton made a copper book binding for “The History of the Kingston Garden Club” which had been written by Jeannie Kingman.
In 1957, thanks were given to Mr. Geil for the “clever gavel he made us.”
“SCAN of Gavel”
This gavel is still used by the KGC president today. In early 1958, the hummingbird was chosen as the clubbird and “Friendship and Flowers” was chosen as the club motto. Around this time, the club opened its first bank account.
During its first decade, the club grew from 12 members to a high of 31 members in 1956, with 25 members as of 1959. Club secretary Gladys Halliwell aptly expressed the feelings of KGC members when she wrote in the January, 1956 meeting minutes, “We like it best when we have a crowd!”