Post Number: 1275
|Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2006 - 10:50 am: || |
Here's some articles about the Yondotega Club I promised many moons ago. As a review, my grandmother worked there for many years. The articles are from a scrapbook she saved. The link is an example of a Detroit Times article...
They are pretty much unreadable if scanned, so I transcribed them in their entirety. I think ItsJeff already posted one of these previously. I gave as much credit as available, but this stuff is starting to look Civil War era. There is more, but this is a good start I think.
A 'Dump So Exclusive Death Guards the Door
That's Detroit's Yondotega Club
Detroit Free Press, Sunday, March 2, 1952
by Norman Kenyon
One of Detroit's most closely guarded secrets lies behind a drab brick wall at 518 Jefferson. It's the Yondotega Club - The Motor City's most exclusive social organization.
Membership is limited to around the 100 mark. To outsiders ambitious for entry, Death is the doorman : Only when a member dies is a new member selected. Guests are scarce. (Once in a lifetime is considered often enough to invite a permanent outsider.) Women visitors are taboo. All members are listed prominently in social directories. Their names denote longstanding wealth and dignity - Alger, Anderson, Briggs, Buhl, Barbour, Fisher, Ford, Kanzler, McLucas, Palms, Remick, Webber. Clubsters abide by one rule with zeal. It is : "Keep your bazoo shut".
Club life is confined to two interests, "divine" food and card playing. It is one of the few places where the once honored games of Pedro and dominoes are still played. Members refer to the ultra-exclusive club as "just a dump". Said one member in an unguarded moment, "I don't think it has ever been redecorated". On warm evenings members sit among the peonies in the rear for their famous Wednesday night dinners. Hints of the epicurean revels have filtered into the outside world from time to time : Rumors of ambrosial pig knuckles, lobster supreme and steaks sautéed in dream dew. But members insist that it is just another luncheon club.
In 1938 they went to court to prove it - in a suit to recover some $11,000 in taxes levied on the claim that they were something more than "just a luncheon club". The trial was a sickening ordeal. Many of the Yondotega's most cherished memories were laid bare. There was the exposure of the side organization known as the "Kibitzers Foundation For Needy Friends to Encourage Scientific Card Playing". A pair of bronze memorial doors were cited as a sign of affluence. "In that old building they looked like a silk hat on a pig", a Yodotegan testified. There was the revelation that members have a mania for "clean decks". After a pack of cards are used once, it is given to a charitable organization, testimony disclosed. With reluctance, one witness was forced to recall a special dinner given in honor of a race horse, AZUCAR. Federal judge Ernest A. O'Brien listened well, then ruled against the plaintiffs. The club was a place for gentlemen of good breeding to enjoy the company of each other, and not merely a refueling station, he opined. "It is generally conceded by men of culture that it were better to share a crust with Shakespeare than a Lucullan banquet with Al Capone," quoth the judge. Sadly, members collected their witness fee checks' and departed within their walls of ivy.
There, among its mementos has remained the Yondotega's - Algonquin Indian word for peaceful, happy spot along the banks of a beautiful river. There members have carried on with their memories of visits by the Prince of Wales, Admiral Byrd, Count Van Luckner, and Teddy Roosevelt. (Certainly not FDR, for goodness' sake !)
Post Number: 1276
|Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2006 - 10:51 am: || |
Exclusive Club Loses Tradition
Manager Quits After 40 Years
by E.A. Batchelor Jr.
The Detroit Times, Thurs. June 23rd, year unknown
In a changing world, the ultra conservative Yondotega Club at 518 Jefferson has clung to tradition as tenaciously as any group in the nation. But one of its real institutions was missing today - Edward S. Thompson, who went to work at the club more than 40 years ago. Thompson, 74, who came to the club as a waiter and became its manager in 1940, has retired.
The club's membership is limited to 100 and, of the 100 who belonged when Thompson first came there, only 5 men still survive. The oldest of these is Edwin S. Barbour, who became a member in 1900, only 9 years after the externally shabby brown frame structure was converted into the city's most exclusive club. it is not hard to understand why Thompson won the respect and affection of the city's civic, business and professional leaders whom he has served. Thompson is a gracious, efficient man whose manners blend in perfectly with the club's unostentatious atmosphere. He said : "It's been a wonderful 40 years. I have no regrets, only happiness." "The very nicest thing happened just yesterday when Mr. Howard Smith, the club chairman, told me : "Come back and see us as often as you like - and use the front door." Thompson will retire to his home at 5286 Twenty-Fourth where he lives with his wife, Zalla, under Doctor's orders not to attempt anything strenuous. But the doctor has not banned his hobby of gardening.
Frederick M. ALger Jr., ambassador to Belgium, figured in the most memorable dinner Thompson ever served. It was not to honor a visiting diplomat - Alger gave it in honor of a horse, and all the members were his guests. The horse was Alger's AZUCAR which won the Santa Anita handicap in 1935 and $108,400 which Alger was frank to point out made the dinner financially possible. Thompson is particularly proud of two club traditions. He claims a paintbrush has never touched the club since its founding in 1891 and he is positively exultant when he tells of the inflexible ban against women.
Post Number: 1277
|Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2006 - 10:52 am: || |
Moving Day Jolts Yondotega Tradition
X-Way Ousts Exclusive Club
by Jane Schermerhorn
(no date, but the typeset indicates a Detroit Times article)
Not without pain, the Yondotega Club will move into new diggings in early September. The city's most exclusive club for gentleman - present count, 108 gentlemen - has been forced to quit the vine covered cottage at 518 Jefferson Ave. East occupied since its founding year, 1891. The new clubhouse, also on East Jefferson, now is rising on the south side of the block bounded by Russell and Riopelle. It took the Chrysler expressway to move the lodge famed for its success in remaining mum on even the smallest details of its doings. This clam-like quality earned the Yondotega considerable admiration, especially among men. The trying part of the move is that the future clubhouse is temporarily visible to the naked or nonmember eye - a situation which will be alleviated as workers complete a red brick wall around the grounds. Sentimentally, finials from the old clubhouse wall will be erected on the new. The old glass-enclosed pergola, where Wednesday night dinners and other large club events were held, is being duplicated in the new quarters, which were designed by the Birmingham architectural firm of O'Dell, Hewlett, and Luckenbach. There will be a card room - pedro is the club game - second floor board of governors meeting room - servant's quarters - a small dining room and modern kitchens where, it is assumed, "the most wonderful food in the world" will continue to be prepared for the epicurean membership. There will be innovations. The new clubhouse for instance, will be fireproof. A shimmering crystal chandelier from the Roy D. Chapin home on Lake Shore road, now the residence of Henry Ford II, will be found in the new Yon. It is a gift from Ford. It joins treasured memorial wall plaques, framed pedro hands, bronze front doors for which the late Thomas H Jerome left a special fund to establish a memorial for himself at the Yondotega. There'll also be a stuffed tarpon brought to the Yon by the late Paul R Gray when his wife insisted he take it off the walls of his home. The grand opening in September will be observed with special ceremonies, according to the Yon's present chairman, Frederick M. Alger Jr.
Wives, harassed by lack of information, have remarked the members were "impossible" in the old days. "They still walk out on anything to keep a date at the Yon", said one wife. "And I must say I grow weary of this silly little custom of toasting deceased members and the President of the United States which takes them out of circulation most of New Year's Day when they hold their open house." A member, who did not wish to be identified said this Yon wife was misinformed. The members do not always toast the nation's President. "In some administrations we merely toast the office of the President of the United States," he explained. At the New Year's Day open house, members dress in costumes and present amusing skits. The Wednesday night club dinner finds most of the membership present (another Yon wife said she learned in childhood that husbands were to have Wednesday nights out- because it was her father's custom to repair to the Yon that evening.)
The feather party has been discontinued. It took place before Thanksgiving and the grand prize was a live pig. Yon members declare they would rather eat a meal alone at the club than anywhere else in the world - the food is that excellent. The late Phelps Newberry once described the club he loved as "simply an old dump where men gather to eat the finest food in the world". The "old dump" reference was to the decor of the ivy covered cottage where every effort to paint or refurbish was successfully resisted through the years. No male resident of Wayne County may enter the club unless he's a member. A woman has never set foot in the clubhouse. Out of town guests are permitted. The late President Theodore Roosevelt paid a call in 1926 and later declared, "The Yondotega is the best club in America". Although it is widely believed that only millionaires are eligible for club membership, the club itself insists the chief requirement is that one be a gentleman : "This is a gentleman's club where gentleman do things gentleman normally do." The board of governors has the power to throw a party at the Yon and bill any member it wishes for the evening's fun. It is customary for members to give parties upon the birth of a son or grandson. New members automatically find themselves hosts at an elaborate fete. All business discussion is forbidden on clubhouse premises. That was the way the founders planned it. They too, initiated the firm rule of secrecy. Today, a Yon member walks out of the room if a non member attempts to discuss the club with him. The late Cameron Currie is still remembered as the club's No. 1 member - contributing greatly to its glamour and romance. He was a graceful speaker, a gourmet, a connoisseur whose ideas gave the club distinction. He served one of the longest terms as chairman, and during those years the club year book printed a verse advising the pattern of close-mouthedness: "Good friende, for friendship's sake forebeare....To utter what is gossip heare...In social chatt, lest, it may be.....Thy tongue do wrong to us and thee" A 20th century member, endeavoring to quote the gentle poetry, boiled it down to...."Keep your bazoo shut."
Post Number: 1278
|Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2006 - 10:55 am: || |
I found this poem hand-written by my Grandmother...
Your old house is all but crumbling down,
Your old faucets leak
Your floorboars creak
But your age does credit to this town.
where our cares are left outside the door
where the friends we greet
Are all concrete
and our wordly worries are no more.
We know what the city has planned
means this clubhouse cannot always stand.
Still we say YOOOONDOTEGA !!
Your doing fine Yondotega
Yondotega, Your'e mine !!
I'm guessing this might be some kind of cheer that Staff had to memorize ? All I know is she didn't write it.
Post Number: 1279
|Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2006 - 11:08 am: || |
...and unrelated, I have found the motherlode of old newspapers. Did they even know what cosmic dust was back then ?
Post Number: 1388
|Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2006 - 11:12 am: || |
Founded in 1892, the Yondotega Club was built on the river at 518 E. Jefferson. The name is an Algonquin word for 'beautiful view.' Strictly an eating club, it is one of the most exclusive clubs in the United States, with a membership of around 150. Only when a member dies is a new member admitted.
The mysterious Yondotega Club (this is the original clubhouse at 518 E. Jefferson) is one of the most exclusive clubs in the nation.
When the Chrysler Freeway was built, the old clubhouse was torn down, and a new one built in 1959, further up Jefferson between Riopelle and Russell. No woman ever crossed the threshold of the old building. The gates open for the traditional Wednesday night dinner.
Dining and cards are the pastimes in the Yondotega Club ('the Yon' to intimates). The food is rumored to be fabulous, and has been consumed by James McMillan, Frederick Alger, Ernst Kanzler, Wendell Anderson and assorted Briggs', Buhls, Fords, and Fishers. Visitors who have enjoyed the food? The Prince of Wales, Admiral Byrd, and Teddy Roosevelt.
As for cards, in a trial contesting taxes in 1938, members testified that after a deck of cards was used once, it was donated to charity. Also unearthed at that trial, the existance within the club of a side organization, known as "Kibitzer's Foundation for Needy Friends to Encourage Scientific Card Playing." The Yondotega Club continues, behind its wall of secrecy, to host fine dinners for its elite membership.
Post Number: 1280
|Posted on Monday, September 25, 2006 - 1:26 pm: || |
Post Number: 5060
|Posted on Monday, September 25, 2006 - 3:27 pm: || |
Bongman, if your grandmother worked there, did she just never leave the kitchen or something if no woman has ever crossed into the club?
Post Number: 1015
|Posted on Monday, September 25, 2006 - 9:44 pm: || |
My how the McLucases have fallen....
Post Number: 68
|Posted on Monday, September 25, 2006 - 10:04 pm: || |
Not to sound like an ignoramus, but is this club still around? (I see the original building is buried under the Chrysler.)
Post Number: 1283
|Posted on Monday, September 25, 2006 - 11:36 pm: || |
It is still there, and dinner is still served on Wed night.