Oct 202016
Quick Tip

Quick tips are ideas for making Granges more effective and efficient. Submit yours today!

Wow! While I don’t keep statistics, I’m pretty sure my recent “Exploring Traditions” column generated more email than any other post or column I can recall–at least in recent times. I’m not bragging, but the feedback triggered an idea. Maybe we should change the way we talk?

I’ve written before about how we refer to the ritual and degree work–and I know how difficult it is to change habits. But what would happen if we tried to change the way we refer to both? We currently have a number of different expressions like “We are doing the ritual” and “Have you taken the degrees?”

Should we, could we instead say things like “We are celebrating the ritual!” and “Have you celebrated the degrees?”

Linguists tell us that language often reflects the way we think, but it’s also true that the way we talk affects the way we think. One reason I’ve never particularly liked the question “Have you taken (or received) the degrees?” is that it’s passive and suggests the degrees are something that happen to someone. I believe the degrees are a celebration of agriculture and what it teaches us!

I’m not going to change the title of my column–it’s long enough already. But we really should be “Exploring and celebrating the Grange way of life.” It’s awesome!


Jun 062016

by Walter Boomsma, Communications Directorquestion-mark-1019993_1280

We occasionally receive inquiries from individuals regarding the Grange in Maine. Sometimes these inquiries are historical in nature and take the form of questions such as “Whatever happened to…?” Sometimes we receive inquiries regarding past events or individuals who perhaps played a significant role in Grange History. While we do not have the resources to conduct research, as a courtesy, we’ll share the question and try to be helpful.

“In search of…” is an experiment–a free service of the Maine State Grange website, available to all who are seeking information concerning the Grange and Grangers, Grange Halls, etc. — past and present — in Maine. We make no guarantees, but offer this opportunity for you to post a brief description of Grange-related information you are seeking. All inquiries are subject to review and editing and we reserve the right to reject any requests deemed inappropriate. Please note that you must include contact information in the form of an email address and/or telephone number. Submit your request here: Help me find…  Visit the page regularly to see what’s posted and how you might be able to help. Grangers are helpful, right!?


Jun 062016

Excelsior Grange in Poland will be having an open house for the public June 18th in recognition of the fact that the Grange hall was recently placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The Grange has been a gathering place for people of the area since it was built in 1914. The hall is the second building erected on the site by Excelsior Grange as the original building was destroyed by fire in 1913. The hall will be open to the public 4-6 PM. Refreshments will be served at 6 PM.

There will be a program at 7 PM. Doug Hodgkin, retired Bates history professor and noted authority on Grange history, will speak about the early days of the Grange movement in Androscoggin County and the role those Granges played in the formation of the Maine State Grange. He will have books with him that he has written about Grange history. Excelsior Grange, organized in 1874, was the fifth Grange organized in Maine and is today the oldest continuously operating Grange in the state.

Also that night there will be a reunion of all former Excelsior Junior Grange members and part of the program will be devoted to them. There will be a slide show of Junior Grange activities from the past and other program items presented by former members. It will be a great opportunity for former members to reminisce and catch up on where life has taken them since their Junior Grange days.

The entire program is open to the public and should be of interest to anyone who would like to know more about Grange history.

May 132016

150  Anniversary LogoToday we unveil the logo for the 150th Anniversary Celebration of the Grange.  Next year, Dec. 4, 2017, is the 150th birthday of the Grange and we truly hope that every Grange at every level and every member takes part in the celebration.  From today, (572 days before the Grange’s big birthday) through the entire year of 2018 and beyond, we hope you will use this approved logo as part of your Grange’s messaging. We will soon have merchandise with the logo, but we also encourage your Grange to use the logo on your own t-shirts, bags and other material that you produce or wish to have to let everyone know your Grange pride and about our organization’s long and amazing past, present and future.

Please click and follow the link to get to 150th Celebration Logo GRAPHIC STANDARDS guide (please read and have any of your folks who receive the logo read) and all the acceptable use files.

Most people will use the JPG or GIF files, however, printers often wish to have the EPS files.  All of these (for all acceptable versions of the logo’s use) are found at this link. If you wish to make changes to the file other than those presented as acceptable options, you must contact the National Grange Communications Director at communicationsatnationalgrangedotorg  (communicationsatnationalgrangedotorg)   before doing so.

The National Grange would LOVE to collect samples of everything the logo is used on and anecdotes about the way your Grange, community or family is celebrating 150 years of Grange.  If you or your Grange produces a t-shirt or mug or any other physical product that includes the logo, we hope that you will please send one to the National Office so we may display it at the National Grange Convention in 2017 (Spokane, Wash.) and use it as a silent auction item. Packages should be shipped to National Grange, 1616 H St. NW, Washington, DC 20006. Please note on the package ATTN: 150th Celebration.

Mar 292016
L--R Fairview Grange Master Kay Young, Community Citizen Nancy Clark, Maine State Grange Master Rick Grotton.

L–R, Fairview Grange Master Kay Young, Community Citizen Nancy Clark, Maine State Grange Master Rick Grotton.

Fairview Grange #342 held a double-header Thursday night, March 24 when we celebrated our 118th anniversary with invited Grange guests from the area and also presented Nicky Clark, Smithfield’s Administrative Assistant with the Grange Citizen of the Year recognition award. Nicky was at the center of the successful Smithfield 175th weeklong celebration in addition to her other duties and was recognized for her “can do” spirit and her perpetual smile. State Grange Master Rick Grotton presented the certificate.  Selectpersons and Smithfield town officials along with friends and family of Nicky rounded out the well-wishers giving us well over fifty people in attendance. A special thank you goes to State Master Rick Grotton and the area Granges who attended.

Grange member David Hartford gave a talk on the history of the Granges in Smithfield. We’re now housed in Grange hall number 3. Fairview Grange suffered two fires over the years. The first time the hall burned to the ground and the second time the hall was so severely damaged had to be demolished. The current Grange Hall was built in 1986 in less than eight months by Grange members and locals.

We held a separate event Friday, March 25 from 6:00 -9:00 p.m. with guitarist Dave Mello performing. Since the hall  was already filled with Grange members and guests of Citizen of the year recipient Nicky Clark on Thursday night, we also hosted an event on Friday night, free and open to the public with a birthday cake and refreshments as a way to engage locals. We plan for our Grange to have an open door policy as a way to show locals how much fun can be had here. Our hall is clean, bright and welcoming. Dave captivated the crowd with his mastery of the guitar(s) and stringed instruments. Grangers and attendees joined in singing “Happy Birthday” to Grange member  David Hartford (over 70 years as a Grange member) who turned 80 on Sunday. Rumor has it the 118th birthday decorations and balloons may have found their way to David’s driveway and mailbox after the event late that evening! Great fun!

Webmaster note: An interesting trivia question: what is the newest Grange Hall erected in Maine? Anyone know the answer?

Mar 032016

Here’s another example of an exciting Grange with an added twist–you’ll learn the answer to a great Maine Trivia Question!

First check out the WABI-TV5 story that aired before the event: http://wabi.tv/2016/02/29/smithfields-leap-year-birthday/. That’s when you’ll learn that Smithfield is the only town in Maine that was “born” on a leap year day some 175 years ago. Fairview Grange members took advantage of the town’s birthday to host a celebration that included lots of friendship, community, and even featured a special DVD presentation developed by Fairview Grange Member Shelby Watson, daughter of Overseer Rick Watson.

Rick noted that the program exceeded all expectations. “We set up for 80 and ended up getting out more chairs as we approached 100 people. Everyone loved the idea of the event, my daughter’s DVD, the food, and the chance to get out in the middle of the winter and socialize.”

This seems like another great example of a Grange supporting community while honoring history and tradition. The birthday cake looked pretty good too!

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Feb 212016

Highland Lake #87 hosted  local history night, Saturday, February 20th. Forty-seven people turned out for a wonderful community potluck supper followed by a slide show presentation by the Westbrook Historical Society. They also displayed artifacts from their collection related to the Duck Pond area of Westbrook, which is where the Grange is located. One of the items was the clock the Grange donated to the local one-room school house in the 1930’s. Several attendees left with Grange membership applications…so it was a “win-win” all around.

Oct 292015
posted by Walter Boomsma, Communications Director

I recently stumbled on to this video produced in 2006 by MPBN–doesn’t seem possible, but that’s nearly a decade ago. There have been a number of changes even in that relatively short time. For example, featured Houlton Grange once thought to be the largest Grange in the world is now closed and a part of history. As I watched it, I was struck by the narrator’s observation that in its early days the Grange had “an unusually progressive attitude.” I wonder how much that attitude contributed to the growth and success of the Grange then. And I wonder how much that attitude has changed since…


(Website subscribers may need to visit the website to view the video.)

Oct 112015

Here’s a chance to learn the latest about one of the traditional activities being carried on by Halcyon Grange… bean hole beans! This comprehensive article in the Ellsworth American actually gives step-by-step instructions for the real thing and offers some interesting trivia. Halcyon Grange members have actually created a permanent bean hole.

Halcyon Grange Carries on an Old Tradition

Sep 292015
Share your ideas with other Granges!

Share your ideas with other Granges!

by Walter Boomsma

At Valley Grange we use our staves as part of our dictionary day presentations, teaching the kids a little bit about the “tools” of the Grange. A few years ago I refurbished all our staves with a thorough cleaning, new ribbons, etc.  I discovered the tops had been painted—they were solid brass beneath the silver paint. A little paint removal and polish and they ended up looking real classy!

How’s your regalia? I know a little bit about the care and feeding of wood and metal, but not much about fabric. We’re fortunate at Valley Grange that some years ago a member built a nice cupboard where we can keep all our regalia, manuals, etc. But sashes in particular are subject to wear and tear.

Being instinctively curious I learned a while ago that you can, in fact, purchase brand-new sashes. Before you add that to your next meeting’s agenda as new business, be aware they cost $299. each. Since most sashes have been around for a while, we might do well to consider what a major investment our forebears made. I count a minimum of seventeen. That’s close to $6,000 at today’s prices!

So a little maintenance might be in order out of respect for that investment… do we have a seamstress out there who’d could give us some tips? Has anyone ever taken a sash to be dry cleaned? Inquiring minds want to know! In fact, I wonder if there’s not a nice little business available for someone who could restore and clean sashes.

Grange supplies such as sashes  are available from http://www.promoplace.com/grange.