Monday, August 8, 2011

Sunday Dinner at the Swiss Club

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dotted across the north coast are European society lodges and halls. Built by first and second generation settlers to our area as early as the late 1800's, are Portuguese halls in Arcata and Ferndale and a Danish Hall in Ferndale,  In Eureka, the Norwegians have the Norway Hall, the Swedes have Runeberg Hall and there's a lodge for the Eureka Order of the Sons of Italy.  Just south of the College of the Redwoods stands the Humboldt Swiss Club Hall.

While neither of us are of Swiss descent, we recently attended the Humboldt Swiss Club's annual Swiss Independence Day chicken dinner and dance. Many were there just to see the Beatrice baron of the accordion, Lindy Mantova.  We were the youngest patrons at the soiree, (we are both past the half-century mark), and the spryness of the attendees astounded us.  We were introduced to three sisters each deep into their 90's. One Mr. Cabalzar introduced himself to us as the "oldest Swiss in the whole place" and told us "I've been coming here since 1927."  Most of the members are well into their 80's and have been going to the gatherings for decades.
What's sad is that these organizations are in danger of going away. Where are the baby-boomer children stepping up to preserve the rich cultural heritage of these social bastions?  Many of these halls rely on rentals just to survive.  Pat Cabalzar-King, current president of the Humboldt Swiss Club, told us the Swiss Hall was close to shuttering in 2005 until a rally cry went out among the Swiss-Italians in the area that closure was near. Annual membership to the Humboldt Swiss Club is only $15 per couple and you don't even have to be Swiss.   What an offer!  Now, who will take them up on it? We did. 


Anonymous said...

Whatever, you corporate television cad! No amount of window dressing your WalMart TV product will endear you to me.

(thanks for the BBBSNC PSA)

-Some Corporate Hack

The Editors said...

I'm dating Sam Walton's niece.


(Oh, damn...I may have spilled the beans)

Anonymous said...

What is the mailing address to send the $15?

The Editors said...

Anonymous, here is an address you man send your membership fee to. But, the best thing is to go to their next barbecue on the first Sunday in October. It's quite a treat to see the members all gathered. It's a slice of American life.

Humboldt Swiss Club
c/o Patricia Cabalzar King,
P.O. Box 692
Ferndale, CA 95536

Mughouse Tom said...

In Frank Onstein's book on the Hammond Lumber strike in the 1930's, he discusses the role of the Finnish hall's in Eureka. They had at least 2--one for the white Finns, and one for the "Red" Finns (socialists), who were active in the labor strike. The two groups apparently didn't associate much.

The Editors said...

Great bit of history on the local Finn's Mughouse Tom. Thanks for chiming in.