I currently have columns running in 3 newspapers;
- Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
- Valley Times : Do You Remember?
- The Independent : Do You Remember?
The Articles appear in the Herald and Independent on Thursdays,
and the Times on Sundays.
They will also be found on this page each week as well.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.
Unknown service club surfaces for air
By Barry Schrader..................................December
While researching the histories of Tri-Valley service clubs in preparation
for some major milestones for Lions and Rotary International, I had occasion
to talk with Dr. Charles Brydon, who was a major player in a little known
local service club over a 30-year period.
He is now the president of the Tri-Valley Taleblazers, and had asked me
to address their annual kickoff luncheon on Jan. 6. Unlike the other clubs
in the area that emphasize service above all else, Brydon's re-formed group
bills itself as the "alternative club to service" and holds meetings
in various locations, including the back of his John Madden-sized motor
home which will hold 15 to 17 people. The club motto, disguised in an old
German dialect, is a pun meaning "Man is what man eats
so in the truest sense of the word this is a "knife and fork club."
They boast of no membership list, no dues, fines limited to 25 cents, and
no attendance requirements. I soon realized that this rag-tag group used
to be part of the National Exchange Club, but the local chapter folded,
at least three times during its 30 year history in the valley.
Over the years they had such recognizable members as Pleasanton Supt. Bruce
Newlin, P-town city manager Bill Edger, former Mayor Ed Kinney, Realtor
Tom Fox, insurance magnate Bill Foster, Major Lee Basnar (the Vietnam War
hero turned author), Livermore Principal Bob Hill, the Rev. Jim Griffes,
and even a Valley Times newspaper editor. Some oldtimers may recall that
group hosting the youth Search for Talent contests at Valley Campus (now
Las Positas College), and sponsoring the Freedom Shrine document displays
at public places such as the courthouse in Pleasanton and the Oakland Airport.
They also ran the Alameda County Fair parade for nearly 20 years, until
they got too small in the eyes of the fair administration, and lost that
volunteer assignment, which spelled the club's doom. They were resurrected
for a short while, then dwindled to less than five members.
A futile attempt to regroup at Lawrence Livermore Lab met with failure two
years ago due to the difficulty of meeting inside the gates of a secure
facility where guests couldn't attend, outside speakers had to be detained
and searched, and a Lab management less than enthusiastic about a national
service club operating within its confines. Their other problem was location-they
had to use a third floor backroom in the Lab's firehouse and most members
couldn't shinny up the fire pole that easily
Even the club's president-elect,
Chief Randy Bradley, barely made it to three meetings all year!
So after that ignominious attempt at revival, the group called it quits
and Brydon became, by default, the only Exchangeite left. Then came the
idea of forming this "underground" club that takes features from
other service clubs and charges nothing to its participants, just a pittance
of a fine now and then. Things such as a fine receptacle made from an old
chamber pot with a bike horn attached, starting meetings with the Pledge
of Allegiance and singing God Bless America like the Rotary clubs, and a
person designated each meeting as the "tale twister," not unlike
the Lions Tailtwister, who leads the joke telling and levies fines on those
brave enough to try and make the "non-members" laugh.
In doing all this, Brydon claims to have attracted a collection of "sorry
ex-Soroptimists, reeling ex-Rotarians (those still in shock from the Rotary
fine amounts), loose Lions, traumatized ex-Toastmasters,and even a kindly
old Kiwanian" whose club had also folded. He even boasts some repentent
Republicans and at least one Democrat-in-denial. Speaking of losing, Brydon
is experienced at that as well-having run on the Democratic ticket against
such successful Republicans as Sheriff Richard Rainey and Assemblywoman
So he concocted an award that has been given several times, but the recipients
never seem to appear. This prize is for the incumbent who loses a seat in
local elections. Past winners (but not receivers) have been defeated BART
board members Robert S. Allen, Erlene DeMarcus, Dr. Sherman Lewis, plus
Peter Snyder, this year's recipient who Brydon predicts will be another
no-show. The plaque is a simple one-a framed Susan B. Anthony dollar-not
a big winner in the public's eye either! And he now has several assembled
in case those former politicians ever show up. But he did admit since there
is no club treasury the invites probably got mailed with insufficient postage
So if you have nothing better to do for lunch Jan. 6, make a reservation
via the club's website email (www.taleblazers.info) or call Brydon at 837-1339
and be at the Willow Tree in Dublin to hear my off-the-cuff remarks on "local
politicians and scalywags I have known." I'll try to include some anecdotes
about each of those BART electeds
. Also, if you attend, you become
an instant "club" member, so can include that fact on all future
resumes and even in your obituary.
* * *
This week's question is: Which service club chapter is the oldest in
the Tri-Valley and when was it founded? Answers are not accepted from the
few remaining souls still paying dues in that club (I have a listing). Hint:
If you remember Charlie Fracisco, then you're much older than I.
* * *
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551