Five Georges meet for 70 years

August 28, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

The five men huddled around a table at a local club, sharing sandwiches, soup and cool beverages.

But these men, all in their 80s, share something else in their monthly get-togethers - 70 years of friendship and membership in a rather unique fraternity.

The Georges Club began in September 1938 with an original roster of 23 members. No one really knows why, but the club members began calling each other "George" and the name stuck.

They were all teenage boys, after all.

The members remained close through school, World War II, jobs, marriages, children, and good health and bad. And, of course, there have been a number of funerals over the years.


"We used to have picnics at each other's houses," said charter member Sam Hankey. "We never drank much ... we were much more interested in playing poker."

After the war, the members of the Georges Club sometimes rented the big room above what was at one time a shoe store in the Hagerstown Public Square.

"I met my wife there at a dance," said Ted McKean, also a charter member.

Sometimes the club members had dances at the Beaver Creek Community Hall, said charter member John McCune.

Most of the members lived in the East End of Hagerstown when the club was started in 1938, according to Newt Henson. Some had attended the old Antietam Street Elementary School in their younger years.

Many were neighborhood friends but not school friends until high school. They did not all attend the same elementary school.

"Hardly any of us had cars," Hankey said of those teenage years. "We'd ride the trolleys to get downtown."

Sam Baker recalls that the club activities often attract a lot of attention from nonmembers. "All the young girls wanted to get into the club because we had so much fun," Baker said.

Hijinks were a big part of the club's activities when the members were still in school.

"When we were in the 10th grade at Hagerstown High School, we were to do a book report for English literature class," McCune said.

One club member was called upon by the teacher to give his report to the whole class. But instead he began to recite the story of "Little Red Riding Hood" ... using an exaggerated Italian accent.

"The teacher gave him a B," McCune said with a chuckle.

Baker said growing up during the Depression shaped the club members. Service in the military during WWII was also a big factor for all of the surviving members.

"We had a good life and are glad to be alive," Hankey said.

The club meets for lunch the second Wednesday of each month at different locations.

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