Way Back When

(The Spirit is pleased to share with our readers vignettes of life in the 19th century as originally reported in past issues of the newspapers. These reproduced stories include their original headlines and spelling.)

Local Intelligence
(April 29, 1896)

A Contest To Increase
The Membership of
The Y.M.C.A.

About four weeks ago, Secretary Willis, of the Y.M.C.A., suggested a plan to increase the membership and the general interest in the Young Men's Christian Association of this place. The plan was this: That the association divide itself into two factions, to be known as the Reds and the Blues, that a captain be appointed on each side, and that each faction go to work earnestly and see how many new members it could secure by April 26.

The evening on which the contest closed, a supper was to be given. The side securing the most members was to have the best supper that could be prepared, while the losing side was to sit at a table in the same room with nothing but crackers and water as their bill of fair. Boyd Allison was chosen captain of the Reds and James Evans of the Blues, and the contest began.

The two factions, with their recruits, met at the association rooms at 7:45 o'clock last night, gorgeously decked in their colors, and marched to Odd Fellows Hall, where the supper was in waiting. They carried Red and Blue banners and various expressive devices, and cheered lustily on their way. Prominent business men and staid citizens took part, and were imbued with the enthusiasm of youth.

When they arrived in the banquet hall Secretary Willis announced the results of the contest. He said that 114 new members had been secured, 64 by the Reds and 50 by the Blues. This was a signal for cheers on the part of the Reds who rushed to the tables ladened with luxuries, while the Blues calmly took their places at the tables provided with crackers, water and toothpicks.

The greatest hilarity prevailed. Spirits were bent up to their full height, and the edibles were disposed of amid the utmost good cheer. Toasts were then given….

Horace Miller spoke of the Reds and the Blues, and said that all the members should keep their souls white with virtue and purity of conduct, and they would have all the colors of the glorious banner of our Republic — red, white, and blue.

The contest was a great success, and did much to strengthen the association, both in enthusiasm and numbers at this place.