Spicer Club Then and Now
THEN and NOW - Spicer Club, and other women's service clubs, were ways for isolated ranch ladies to connect and find community, socializing and plain old fun in the midst of a hard life. They were so important that families would make the trek even in winter and spend a night at a neighbor's ranch so the kids could play, music played, and stories told. Hardship and joys were shared - help was given when needed and comfort too. Over time, roads became paved and plowed, schools consolidated, electricity, telephones and now the internet and Facebook are part of our lives. Some of the simple ways of making fun are slipping away. Spicer Club is in such a place - the old ladies are old and honestly do not know how to pass on the traditions and organization to a younger, energetic, tech savvy generation. At the very least we will work to preserve the stories and other bits of tangible history that are vanishing.
Spicer Club has its roots in organized club work that began in 1910, with Amy Rausch’s work through the Home Economics Department at Colorado Agricultural College (CAC, now Colorado State University). Her demonstration lectures became more formally organized into the Colorado Home Demonstration Council, which was established in 1932. In the two decades that followed, Home Extension Agents were appointed to Colorado counties through the Extension Service out of CAC. These agents organized small associations such as sewing and homemaking clubs. In 1937 Spicer Club was formed with help from the Colorado Home Demonstration Council. There were separate clubs in Rand and Cowdrey. Agents from the Home Demonstration Council would come up and make presentations that highlighted handcrafts, baking and food preservation. These presentations included: how to make barrel chairs; how to make lamps; how to prepare variety meats and bake yeasted breads. The cooking demonstrations often took place in the Community Church kitchen. The club met regularly at members’ homes. Often there was a small gift (a craft or baked good) and a tea plate. There was a drawing to see who would take the gift home. There was also a club basket for donation that was brought and passed on. Usually the basket contained a cake or pie, perhaps a tea towel or potholders. The basket rotated among all the women. In addition to meeting in homes, the Coalmont Schoolhouse was frequently used as a meeting place. After 1958 when the schools were consolidated, Spicer Club took on the care of the old schoolhouse to save it from demolition. The schoolhouse has been repaired, painted and renovated twice since then.
In the 1990, the building had fallen into disrepair and was in a sad state. It was given a face-lift including new paint, some window fixtures, caulking and an indoor composting toilet (the outhouses are still out back). It was a large, complex and successful project. The Club had various fundraising and community projects; cooked chili dinners on Election Day. In Fall there was a Husband Supper at the Schoolhouse with covered dishes provided by the ladies as well as a Turkey Dinner prepared before Thanksgiving. There was also a Christmas party open to the community that included a shared covered dish supper with Santa Claus for all the children. In May there was a Spicer Picnic – which became the Fathers’ Day picnic with Spicer area families and the community gathered at the Grizzly Creek campground and later a BLM campground. Through the years, Spicer Club has raised funds by making meals, for many years running a local thrift shop, and printing a cookbook.
Before there was a Jackson County Fair; there was an annual Achievement Day with all 3 Jackson County homemaking clubs participating. The Achievement Day included a ladies luncheon. There were competitive entries of crafts, baked goods and prepared foods with official judging and ribbons awarded. The Spicer Club is also a service club. In the past meals were provided for the family at funerals (the United Methodist Women do this now). Spicer Club also quietly provides financial help to those in need.
I have fond memories as a child attending Spicer Club events from the Christmas parties to the summer picnics. I received a Spicer Club cookbook as a wedding gift 20 years ago and today it still remains one of my favorites. A new cookbook was released about a year ago and can be purchased by CONTACTING a member of the Spicer Club. (Click on Contacting to send them an email).