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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

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.

Archive Page

Unknown service club surfaces for air

By Barry Schrader..................................December 30, 2004

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 Lynn Leach.
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.

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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.

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The columnist can be reached via email at :

Historian2sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551

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