Thursday, July 31, 2008

Grange Halls

As I have mentioned, my first seven years were spent in the very small community of Durkee. Some of the best memories I have are from time spent in the local grange hall. There are many of these grange halls located all over the United States and usually several in the same county.

The grange movement developed in America following the Civil War. Farmers in small isolated communities in all parts of the country needed to band together so they could have a voice in local and national politics and social interactions. The first granges developed in the east in 1867 and were called the Patrons of Husbandry. By joining the local grange, farmers and their families could meet and socialize.

Today the grange membership has dwindled with many granges that were once filled with activity now quieted. It seems like a sad sign of our modern times to me. Perhaps this is why our communities are not as close as they once were.

This happens to be one of several granges close to where I live now. It is dire need of some maintenance but every once in a while I will see something happening here. Just not often.

In Durkee the only form of entertainment and community gatherings during my childhood were either at the school or the grange hall. The grange hall was used as a small library for the school, plays or pageants, bake sales, roller skating, meetings, parties, dances and card playing. My mother even taught leather craft for 4-H in the grange hall. Following potluck dinners the adults would pull out the skates and the kids would roller skate until it was time for the dancing. I remember sleeping on the old wooden benches around the perimeter of the room while my parents danced until late into the night. I even remember a few fights that were taken outside. This same grange hall was the location where at our local Christmas gathering I learned to jump rope going all around the room. This jump rope was given as a Christmas gift to me from my first grade teacher, who later married my great uncle.

When we moved to Baker City there were many grange halls outside of town. One was near our home and we would use it occasionally for a place to go to warm up and have hot chocolate and chili following a sledding party. Other granges were used for 4-H meetings, community fund raisers, wedding receptions, funeral gatherings and such.

Do you remember grange halls? Were you ever involved in any activities in a grange hall?

5 comments:

Jill said...

What a cool memory--I wish Granges were still used the way they were when you were a kid. If so, I agree that communities would probably be a lot closer these days. love you!

Saddlegait www.gottabeacountrygirl.blogspot.com said...

It's fascinating to hear stories of growing up in other places. I have lived as far west as Nebraska and it was foreign country to me - well...not until winter and then we experience S N O W (Yes, a four letter word by all accounts). I quickly figured out a way back home.

I too was in 4-H - it's not the same club it was back then.

Twinville said...

I wonder where the term 'grange' came from. Why 'grange'?

Sounds like the modern version of a grange hall is the local Community Center.
Our village's Community Center is always bopping with many of the activities you mentioned.

Thanks for sharing some of your fond memories of growing up :)

Tipper said...

I've heard of the Grange before-but never had any experience with one. Sounds like they are a wonderful asset to the community.

"JEANNELLE" said...

Very interesting post and photo. I have never seen "grange" halls in Iowa. Maybe they are more of a western states thing. Like another comment said.....the "community" halls are/were common in Iowa small towns. But, you're right, people just don't get together much anymore for activities. Everyone at home in front of TV or computer.