Clark County group’s 75th shows ties that bind us, Ohio State

Ohio State University has added many new housing options for students, including these dorms at the corner of High and Lane streets. AMANDA WAPLES / OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
Ohio State University has added many new housing options for students, including these dorms at the corner of High and Lane streets. AMANDA WAPLES / OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY

As Buckeye football players link arms after a game and join fans in the singing of Carmen Ohio, trumpets mimic the sound of chiming bells to underscore the importance of the tie between student and alma mater against the rush of time.

Last month, I sensed a touch of what may even be a stronger human tie when so many women I’ve come to know and like over the years gathered in the Walter Frank Social Center at the Ohio Masonic Community to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Clark County Chapter of the Ohio State University Parents Association.

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Despite the name change back in 1988 to include fathers, the anniversary meeting showed the club to be essentially what it began as on March 10, 1942: The Ohio State University Mothers Club.

The roughly 20 women seated on folding chairs around folding tables wore scarlet and gray blouses, dresses, cable-knit sweaters and argyle socks. OSU logos were plentiful. Many were designed into the garments, but there were several homemade items that have, to date, escaped being saddled with licensing fees.

Neatly dressed, the gathering was of such good and genuine humor that they might smile if a smart-aleck reporter were to compliment them for dying their hair gray to show their Buckeye loyalty and wondering aloud about the dearth of scarlet hair.

Demographics, of course, have played a part in the thinning of the club’s ranks, as they have for so many men’s and women’s clubs in our community. But knowing the club’s peak membership was 94 in 1963, it doesn’t take a demographer to subtract 18 years and arrive at 1945, the end of World War II and at the kickoff of the Baby Boom.

In addition to their goal of keeping up with happenings on the campus their children walked, mothers of the club have worked together on a common financial goal: to support generations of Clark County students who have marched off to Ohio State like the band marches into Ohio Stadium.

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At last month’s meeting, members learned that their four $500 scholarship awards for 2017-18 would go to students from Tecumseh, Kenton Ridge, Greenon and Northeastern high schools. The awards will push the number of scholarships the club has supported over 150 and the amount awarded over $70,000 – an amount matched by the university.

Although some of the awards have gone to children or grandchildren of club members, most have not. The distinction makes no difference in the way members talk about favorite Ohio State moments. All are part of their club and family lore – personal stuff.

The late Vanice Kadel’s grandson was Brutus Buckeye, and he made the cover of the local club’s yearbook.

Mary Jane Sterrett, who led the anniversary meeting, had four grandchildren graduate from Ohio State. One was a member of TBDBITL and passed along the tidbit that when he was a band member, there were more engineering than music majors on the field.

On a special tour of Ohio Stadium, Joann Snarr experienced “the biggest thrill I had” when she stood on the O at the center of the field with club member Connie Bost.

On the day she took the tour, Carol Rinker enjoyed taking in the Archie Griffin and Woody Hayes memorabilia but was awestruck by the display of footwear worn by players who saw action in the ‘Shoe.

“The length of the feet of some of these guys,” she said.

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Marjorie Travis, who was at Ohio Stadium when Woody dotted the “I” in Script Ohio, said she wasn’t really a fan of his until he rose from his wheelchair to speak at her daughter’s Shelly’s commencement ceremony in 1986.

“He spoke from the heart,” she said, “and I had to admire him for that.”

There is another matter of the heart involving Travis and Ohio State. Her now 57-year-old daughter, Melissa, whose heart was repaired using the heart-lung machine that was still fairly new when the Ohio State University hospital was a single gray block building on the campus.

In addition to personal ties with the university, the club members celebrated ties with one another. Marilyn Anton said that at her very first meeting in 1972, “I felt I belonged.”

As photos from the club’s past show, the relationships were cemented by the work required to fill dessert tables that, if lined up, might span the width of Clark County; by craft projects planned and carried out for sales; by the fun leading up to auctions of items like Lida Wall’s famous reclaimed and eccentrically decorated hats; and by the goodwill generated by the holiday tray favors made for people being cared for at OSU hospitals.

Although there have been moves to modernize the club – the annual fall tea has been called a tailgate – larger changes in the culture are working against the old ways. Meetings are noon to 2 p.m. on Mondays, when most working mothers can’t attend.

Old-fashioned may have a place in describing the club that met at the Wren’s Tea Room, Kerry Deen Inn, Hotel Shawnee and Hodges Roller Rink, but there’s a more important sense in which its longevity should be considered enduring and sustaining instead.

Late members remembered by way of obituaries are added to the club’s scrapbook. Those include members of 40-plus year club: Gleneva Gibson, Virginia Woodward, Alma Nash and Mary Webster. Last month, a plate was passed to take donation for the scholarship fund in memory of the recently departed Mary Lou Lemon.

Like those predecessors, the women now in the club aren’t stingy with their time. They’re typically involved in many other clubs and activities of the community – a community they’ve stayed involved with, in part, because of the local speakers they’ve invited in year after year to help keep them informed.

Kim Williamson and Ivy Mammolite; Lida Wall and Martha Horner; Carol Rinker and Kay Akers; Joanne Snarr, Mary Jane Sterrett and Patti Lizza – when I was the Community News editor, I saw all their names on meeting notices brought to the newspaper for publication.

For 75 years now, members of the club have supported not only Ohio State and one another but our community. Moreover, they’ve done it in a way that has been true to a larger, more enduring and connecting human spirit evoked every time Ohio State players and fans sing together at the end of each game:

Summer’s heat or winter’s cold

The seasons pass the years will roll

Time and change will surely (truly) show

How firm thy friendship … OHIO!