History of Crescendo Club
Prepared by Mrs. George Marsh For the Golden Jubilee Program November 1948
When history becomes a legend the historian’s imagination is allowed many liberties. If the finished product makes interesting reading the glamour added by the writer’s pen is easily accepted by the reader.
In writing the history of the Crescendo Club we shall use this privilege as little as possible, confining ourselves to facts so far as we can gather them, leaving the reader’s kind charity to fill in the vacancies.
The records for the first twenty-two years of our club were lost, to our great sorrow, so that part of our history must be composed of fragments gathered here and there from the memories of members.
Once upon a time, so long ago that it seems a pleasant haze in the memory of our oldest club members, Marion Page Marvin, now of Essex Junction, came home to Jeffersonville from school, full of enthusiasm and anxious to continue her own mental growth along with her neighbors and friends. Through her efforts a group of ladies of all ages became interested in a study group and their first meeting, in the autumn of 1898, was at her home. She was elected President, an office which she held until her marriage three years later. Carrie P. Carroll was the first secretary, Mrs. Marion Griswold, Chaplain and Mrs. Howard, Treasurer. A Committee was appointed to select a name for the club and Mrs. Robert Thomas was chairman. To her belongs the name “Crescendo” which has been an inspiration to the club through the years. The motto was chosen and colors. Their meetings were held in the different homes and the history and literature were the base of their study in the beginning. A different committee was appointed for each meeting who arranged the programs, making out search questions for different members to report on, assigning papers to be prepared and read and at all times following the general outline of study arranged in the beginning. The plan proved very interesting and instructive and was followed for many years.
The first and always main objective of the Crescendo Club has been to sponsor a town library. The nucleus came at about the time the club was organized in the form of a gift from the State to the Town of Cambridge of one hundred books. These were divided equally between the two villages, Cambridge and Jeffersonville.
Carrie Carroll, one of the finest of women, had taught the children of Cambridge and vicinity for a lifetime and was intensely interested in a library and all that it would mean to the children she had worked so hard to prepare for useful and happy citizenship. She offered the front room in her house for the use of the books and her time, free of charge, as librarian. This she continued to contribute faithfully until a year before her death, May 17, 1922. Here was a contribution to the community that can never be
appreciated. She has passed on to her reward but the influence of her life and noble self- sacrifice will live on through time into eternity.
The first addition to the library was a few books the club purchased with money from dues. That was a proud day for the members. They had started toward the realization of their ambition.
The years of which we have no record were filled with activity; the members working earnestly together for the improvement of their community. After the World War the club, with the help of Mr. Bartlett, the pastor, and others, set out a row of maple trees on each side of a street in the village, now called Maple Street. This was done in honor of and in memory of our boys who served in World War One. Mrs. Harvey Varnum, a club member, had a large maple set in front of the church in honor of her son, Capt. Guy R. Varnum.
For several years the club arranged for the underprivileged children from the cities to spend a vacation in the country. Good homes were found for their free entertainment. About twenty-five children were cared for in this way for a number of successive summers.
During this period of time there were no definite departments in the club but every year saw many services rendered to the community. Woman’s kindly touch was felt in many places. Previous to 1920 Mrs. Dora Atwood left us in her will $1500 whose income could be used as the club saw fit. This was our first legacy.
A year before Miss Carroll’s death, her failing health obliged her to give up her duties as President and Mrs. Marjorie Andrews assumed the work. In 1921 through Mrs. Andrews’ efforts the Crescendo Club became a part of the State Federation. She also helped to organize the different departments required by the Federation laws. Since that time the work has been better organized and more definite. Miss Carroll left about $3000 to the club, the income to be used only for the purchase of new books. Since acquiring this definite income our number of books has increased more rapidly.
Since our club was small and our means very limited, we were obliged to choose from the different departments what we felt needed our help most. Child welfare came closest to our hearts and continues to be our favorite charity. Mrs. Cora Noble was chairman of that department for the ten years preceding her death about a year ago. She put a great deal of time and endeavor into this department, and seldom fell below ten dollars in her collection and often had quite a bit more. After her death Mr. Noble gave the departments ten dollars in honor of her memory.
The first State Convention, after we joined the Federation, was held in Rutland in 1921. Mrs. Andrews as President and Mrs. Carrie Lease as delegate attended.
When Miss Carroll was obliged to give up all active work, the books were moved to the church parlors. Mrs. Carrie Lease and Mrs. Cora Thomas did this work and Mrs. Thomas became librarian and held the office for about sixteen years.
Mrs. Varnum died in June 1927 and left her house to the club to be used as a library and community house. The books were then moved from the church parlors to a room in this home. The upkeep of this large house became a burden and it was not very practical for community use. We obtained permission from the son to sell it, which we did for $4,000. Our hope for many years of building a library now began to take definite form. Several times plans were made but the members were unable to agree upon location, material and style of architecture and nothing was accomplished. In 1937 Mrs. Carrie Lease was elected President. The Club voted to build a library and a building committee was appointed. The committee bought a lot on the Main Street and built a very pretty building of wood, painted white. The interior is especially pretty, finished in knotty pine. The library room is sufficiently large, is well lighted and has an attractive fireplace in one end. There is a small kitchen, a coat room and toilet on this floor. In the basement is an oil burning furnace. The cost complete was bout $5500. The Varnum fund with its accumulated interest left us with a five hundred dollar debt. In September 1943, Mrs. Rachel Bicknell, President announced that this note for five hundred dollars had been paid in full and requested Mrs. Lease, as one of our faithful workers to burn the note. The club had paid a hundred dollars and interest each year and a gift from the Village of Jeffersonville for fifty dollars made it possible to complete the payment at this time.
We hold our club meetings in the library and have card parties there for raising money to pay our current expenses. We have a financial committee each month who assume the responsibility for that month’s needs. The committee can earn the money in any way they choose. The plan proves very successful so far. We are very happy in our new home and have much for which to thank Mrs. Lease in her work while our dream library was becoming a reality. We had our first club meeting in it in September 1938 and celebrated the club’s fortieth birthday.
Mrs. Carrie Lease, Mrs. Sara Marsh and Mrs. Abbie Marsh, as successive presidents, have led the group in their work as one harmonizing whole. The community feels that they are being rendered a great service and gladly help in many ways by encouraging words and financial assistance especially in patronizing their benefit projects. The club feels very grateful to the public and the public appreciates what they receive from the efforts of the club. We have contributed to the Vermont Children’s Aid, Vermont Church Council, Penny Art Fund, Scholarship Fund and sponsored the local Girl Scouts. The club has added new books each year, Kitchen equipment, and acquired a piano, partly by purchase and partly by gift in memory of the late Hattie Brown. In 1947 our club won third place in the health contest program with Pearl Shannon, Chairman. In the summer of 1948 the exterior of the library received a beauty treatment and emerged glistening white.
We now have about 4,000 books with a circulation of about one hundred per week. Our reading table once offered thirty-two magazines. The circulation of books last year was 3905. Each year greater interest is shown, especially by the young people.
New books were purchased last year.
We hope the Crescendo Club may be as a pebble dropped in the sea of events whose ripples may widen and deepen more and more each year till only God can estimate its benefit to itself and the community it endeavors to serve.