Denise Tepler, newly elected to the Maine State Legislature, presents Topsham Master Mike Labbe with the Legislative Resolve honoring Topsham Grange.
Chartered in November of 1874, Topsham Grange #37 observed its 140th Anniversary with a rousing, old-fashioned meeting on November 5th. Many members and guest arrived to enjoy a traditional bean supper with all the fixin’s. Many came dressed in period attire. Everything from lace, fur, fans, a parasol, and long dresses completed the varied costumes. CJ Roy was “Rosie the Riveter,” and another member was a genuine cowboy.
The dining room was decorated with colorful table coverings and centerpieces of greens and red berries. One side of the room featured historic photos and memorabilia, some dating back to the earliest days of Grange establishment in the Androscoggin/Sagadahoc area. State Master Vicki and Topsham Master Mike Labbe officiated at the cake cutting at the dessert table that was also laden with pies of every variety.
After dessert and moving to the upper hall, the officers, members, and guests opened the meeting in form. The extended program began with singing the “State of Maine Song,” and the program was interspersed with several sing-along collections of songs from the decades since 1874—from “Rock-A-Bye Baby” to “The Aba Daba Honeymoon” and “Hello Dolly.”
Retired Bates Professor and Wales Grange member Douglas Hodgkin, spoke about the early history of Grange formation in this area of the state. In speaking of his own former Grange, Lewiston #2, he told how that Grange building was picked up and moved up the road to be closer to the Lewiston-Bath trolley line for the convenience of members and visitors.
Joyce DeVito, Mert Ricker, Nancy Clark, Helen Black, and Blanche Rider offered historic vignettes of the five Granges that individually combined and eventually merged with Topsham over the years, all but one of which would have been observing their 140th anniversaries this year: Lewiston #2, Eureka #7 and Solid Rock #502 (both of Durham), Pine Tree #3 of Lisbon, and Dirigo #13 of Brunswick. As the Granges organized, one of the first orders of business was to purchase material and sew the regalia for officers—in those early years no two Granges were alike in their regalia!
At two points in the evening, the stage curtains parted to reveal the old footlights shining on two different hand-painted, vintage stage curtain sets, still nearly as vibrant and colorful as when they were first created and installed on the stage in the early 1900s.
The Grange Singers prepare to perform under the baton of State Master Vicki.
Two outstanding program highlights of the evening were a demonstration of Scottish dancing by a group that practices at Topsham Grange, and “The Grange Singers,” performed by an enthusiastic group of State Officers and a guest under the expert direction of State Master Vicki. To cap the evening, a Grand March was led by State Master Vicki and State Overseer Rick Groton.
A fine time was had by all present, including guests from nearly a dozen Granges. It was an exciting evening, and would have made the many members who have passed through this Grange in its 140-year history proud.
In addition, at the December meeting of Topsham Grange, a newly elected member of the Maine Legislature, presented the Grange with a joint resolution from the Maine House and Senate, honoring Topsham Grange for its contributions to the communities it serves, and to honor its 140 years since being chartered.