Members of the Kiwanis Club of Salt Lake City are serious about their meals.
When he compiled a summary of the club's 70-year history, member J Malan Heslop could find only two times when the Kiwanians failed to hold their weekly luncheon meeting - during the influenza epidemic of 1918, when authorities banned all public gatherings, and on Aug. 16, 1945, the day after the Japanese surrender ended World War II.So it's only fitting that the group will celebrate its anniversary Friday with a dinner.
Kiwanians will gather in the Marriott Hotel at 7 p.m. for a social hour, with music by Alan Frank, followed by dinner and a program at 8 p.m., with dancing to the music of Alvino Rey. All present and former club members are invited to attend the $50-per-couple event, with or without reservations.
All past Salt Lake Kiwanis presidents will be honored, and outgoing President Ted R. Capener will receive special recognition.
According to the history Heslop compiled, the Salt Lake club evolved from a June 5, 1918, meeting between Kiwanis International organizer E.F. Wescott and Salt Lake resident Herbert Van Dam Jr., who supplied the names of 10 friends as potential members. On Oct. 10 that year, the club was officially organized with 200 charter members.
The flu epidemic put a temporary halt to meetings, but things quickly got rolling again, and by the club's second year it was time to raise the dues - from $1 to $2.
From the beginning, the Salt Lake Kiwanians carried out the organization's goal of community service, starting with support for the Boy Scouts, Red Cross and musical concerts.
Young people have always been a Kiwanis priority, and for many years the Salt Lake club sponsored one of the nation's largest junior livestock shows. In 1939, members organized the Salt Lake Yacht Club and started a troop of Sea Scouts.
And even before that, in 1928, the Kiwanians organized a boys club. Later, in 1947, they opened the Kiwanis-Felt Center, and by 1958, attendance at what had become the Kiwanis-Felt Boys and Girls Club had reached 2,642.
Just as the girls got into their club some years after the boys did, it took a long time for women to be accepted as full Kiwanians, rather than just auxiliary members. But on July 5, 1987, Kiwanis International voted to admit women, and on Nov. 23, 1987, the Salt Lake club inducted Carol A. Dunlap and Arley Ann Goris.
Patriotism is a Kiwanis theme, and during World War II, the club ran a program to aid wounded soldiers at Bushnell Hospital in Brigham City, raised more than $2 million for war bonds and shipped nearly 75,000 pounds of clothing to the European war zone.
The Kiwanians marked the nation's Bicentennial in 1976 by distributing 100,000 copies of the Declaration of Independence.
But the Salt Lake club has not limited itself to local or even national projects. In 1976-77, the group sponsored an effort by all Utah and Idaho clubs to collect 20,000 pairs of eyeglasses for distribution to needy people in South America. And in 1984-85, the Salt Lakers carried out another Latin American project, this time sending more than two tons of clothing and supplies to the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico.