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Pancake breakfasts refined over 53 years

November 05, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Back in 1951 when the Hagerstown Lions Club held its first pancake breakfast, a garbage can was the only thing big enough to mix that much batter.

"It was a brand new garbage can and we used a brand new boat oar for stirring," said former member John Waggoner who remembers stirring a lot of batter that first year.

Now things are more scientific, said current member Gordon Crabb as the club gets ready for its 53rd pancake and sausage breakfast Saturday, Nov. 13, at the Hagerstown Elks Lodge, 11063 Robinwood Drive.

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"We expect to serve 3,500 people this year between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m.," Crabb said. "A lot come early. Some are even waiting at the door."

The money earned from this venture powers most of the club's charitable endeavors for the year, Crabb said.

The first breakfast was held in the old Franklin Court building on West Franklin Street.

"It was a success, I do remember that," Waggoner said.

After a number of years there, the breakfast moved to the Masonic Temple on South Potomac Street, where it stayed for many years, Crabb said. The popularity had grown to the point that lines formed in the temple basement, wound their way up the stairs and out onto the street.

The next move was to South Hagerstown High School for several years, then one year at another school and on to the Elks Club, where it has remained.

"The Elks have been very cooperative in helping us with this event," Crabb said.

A former president of the club, Crabb said the convenience of lots of parking helps too.

Over the years, some memorable stories about pancake breakfast day have emerged. Crabb said one year a woman approached the grill and said she liked eggs with her pancakes. When she was told there were no eggs, she pulled one out of her pocketbook and cracked it on the grill.

"She had her egg for breakfast," Crabb said.

Some of the older members tell of the year there was a "Pancakes over the Potomac" promotion, which featured rides on a Fairchild airplane with a breakfast of pancakes, Crabb said.

Prices have gone up over the years, Crabb said. Partial club records show the breakfast cost just 99 cents in 1970. This year, tickets cost $3.50 at the door.

The menu includes all-you-can-eat pancakes and one portion of sausage, Crabb said. He has been involved in planning pancake day for the past 12 years.

The money raised each year goes to support Lions projects in vision and hearing research, collecting and distributing eyeglasses around the world, as well as many organizations for boys and girls in Washington County, just to name a few.

No longer a member of the Lions Club, Waggoner, 87, said he doesn't attend the breakfasts anymore.

"I'm trying to watch my waistline," he said.

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