Baker Venture Club

By Phyllis Badgley

Venture Club members in 1948.

Standing: Doris Young, Elizabeth Bailey, Beverly White, Drucilla Stiff, Mary Jane Warner, Unidentified
Middle: Joene McEnroe, Madaline Racenelli, Darlene Bunch, Jessie Adams, Ruth Cahill
Front: Phyllis Roske, Dorothy Mason, Kathy Dunn

"Nothing ventured, nothing gained." This was the motto of Baker Venture Club, chartered in mid-1940's.

Local Soroptimists were advisors. The Venture club consisted of young business women who were interested in civic projects. Each prospective member had a Soroptimist mentor. Initiation ceremonies were in formal attire, most often this candlelight event was held in the ballroom of the prestigious Baker Hotel. Well-known chefs Wally Shephard and Claude Taylor prepared an elegant banquet prior to the ceremony.

Venture Club money-making events helped provide scholarships while also promoting community projects. Members volunteered as judges several several times for July 3 Children's parades.

Meetings were held twice monthly, one a business meeting, the other a social function such as picnics and swim parties. Long remembered is a waffle bake at the home of a member. With several waffle irons in service simultaneously, fuses continued to blow. If you've ever been in a crowd where everyone has a different idea and each authority talks at the same time, then you can well imagine the scene that evening!

A memorable picnic found us unable to open the locked car trunk. Apparently there was a box of foodstuffs lodged against the inside latch. After lengthy efforts and trial, the lock finally responded. With relief and sharpened appetites from the delay we enjoyed a hot dog roast picnic.

Club officers and Baker delegates attended district and conference meetings at out-of-state locations. The 1947 destination for delegates Mary Jane Warner, Doris Young and Phyllis May was Victoria, B. C., where they were housed in the famous Empress Hotel. A (then) new product on the market, colored film, was expensive so used sparingly by the delegates. Another Venture Club member, Christine Gardner, traveled to Butte, Mont., convention.

Invitation holiday dances sponsored by local Venturists were popular occasions, held in the Baker Hotel ballroom.

The club promoted a musical piano concert by Mr. Rabinoff. We prepared advertising flyers with caution, making sure Rabinoff's name was spelled correctly. Because of name similarity, we reasoned the audience might expect renowned violinist Rubinoff!

Venturists participated in a World War II Bond rally. Handsome Hollywood star, Victor Mature, appeared in Baker as featured speaker for this event. I don't recall how many bonds were sold that day, but I do recall a number of "ooh's" and "aah's" from the crowd that gathered downtown.

Myrtle Lee, county school superintendent, and a Soroptimist member initiated a letter-writing project to Baker County servicemen. Monthly letters were sent to both European and Pacific theaters, during World War II.

As a community service, Venturists helped mimeograph and address the correspondence Recently. Baker County veteran Milt Prowell indicated he still has a "Myrtle Lee" letter. Prowell stated that while each letter was welcome, best remembered was the arrival of an envelope saturated with the aroma of sage. Mrs. Lee had enclosed a sprig of Baker County sagebrush in that letter!

After the war a number of young business women married and moved away. Venture club membership rolls declined, so after a dozen or more years of activity, the club dissolved. Some ladies chose to continue civic involvement, joined (advisor) Soroptimists or local sorority chapters which were activated in Baker.

My 1946 Venture Club lapel pin lays tucked away in a treasure box. Still readable blue letters on sterling background clearly state, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

Printed here with permission of Record Courier

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