Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Lions Club Show’

A Visit with Centenarian Frances Mehaffey

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This special recent portrait shows that Frances still has style.

Most of us dream about living a long life. For Frances Mehaffey that dream is reality. At over 101 years young, Frances still enjoys a busy life. This amazing woman has a quick sense of humor and enjoys sharing stories of life as it used to be.

Frances Hartley was born in October, 1914 in Cambridge, Ohio at her parents’ home near Garfield School. Her mother told her the children were singing and playing “London Bridge” on the playground at the time of Frances’ birth. She has been entertaining others with music ever since.

While she never liked dolls, she remembered a swing and a wagon her father bought her when she was a child. The family moved often. When they lived next door to an early oil well in the county, Frances decided she would use a stick to drill her own oil wells in the dirt. She has been busy all of her life.

Peggy and Frances

Peggy and mother Frances enjoy sharing memories over a cup of coffee.

With three children, her parents also stayed busy. Father drove a horse and buggy to deliver mail in the summer time, and rode horseback in the winter. Mother gave piano lessons after studying music at Mt. Union. Frances learned to play piano and organ.

When Frances was ten, the family moved back to Cambridge where several ladies wanted her to cut and set their hair. She walked from house to house after school doing something that came to her naturally…without ever going to beauty college.

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An early picture shows Frances about the time of graduation from Cambridge Brown High School.

She graduated from Cambridge Brown High School in 1933. Her current beauty license, which she received in 1934, is the oldest in the state. She was honored by the State of Ohio Board of Cosmetology with a reception and proclamation of “Frances H. Mehaffey Day” on December 10, 2014.

Frances opened her first salon in the back of her father’s wallpaper store, followed by one over the old Strand Theater. She then opened the “Town and Country”, which she operated until a few years ago, and a second salon in Quaker City for several years. That’s over 90 years of making ladies beautiful!

John and Frances Mehaffey eloped to Wellsburg, WV in 1937, but no one knew they were married for several. months. When they moved to the country, their first home had no electricity, a hand pump outside for water, and an outdoor toilet. How life has changed.

While she was too busy to travel often, she remembers one trip to Texas where they stood in line all day long to watch part of the Lee Harvey Oswald trial.

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Her children gathered for a surprise 100th birthday celebration. They include: Peggy Ringer,  Dr. John, mother Frances, and Tom. Frances has 8 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild.

While raising their three children and operating her beauty salons, Frances planned and wrote scripts for PTA programs, started the cafeteria at Pike School and helped start the Cassell Station Fire Department. Square dancing, Buggy Wheel Riding Club, and the Organ Club added enjoyment to her busy life.

Later she formed and wrote the theme song for the “Kitchen Kuties”, who performed for many organizations. Over a cup of coffee during this visit, Frances broke into song singing, “We are the Kitchen Kuties…”  Watching TV and reading books are not high on her list even today

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Linda Johnson and Frances visit before a Lions Club Show.

Frances and John helped Bob Jonard get the Lions Club Minstrel started back in 1973. That first year she helped organize the musical performances and write the program. She  headed makeup for the Minstrels for 39 years. Althought Frances stopped singing in the chorus a couple years ago, she still attends the Lions Club Shows and enjoys them thoroughly.

She even attends the Afterglow following the show. This year it was held on the second floor of a local club, but that didn’t stop Frances. She climbed those stairs better than some that are in the chorus today. When asked how she could still climb steps so well, she matter-of-factly remarked, “When I was 93, I had both knees replaced and I’ve been able to climb stairs ever since.”

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Frances was happy to have knee replacements to help her walk more easily.

You might wonder what her secret is for being a centenarian. Frances will only say that she worked hard all of her life. She never smoked or drank, takes a daily vitamin but only two prescription medications, and attends First Methodist Church in Cambridge each Sunday. Although she no longer drives, Frances renewed her driver’s license on her 100th birthday.

When she was asked about working so hard throughout life, Frances responded with a powerful bit of advice for everyone, “If you don’t, you waste it. You don’t want to waste life.”

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The Cambridge Lions Club Variety Show’s 40th Anniversary “Blast From the Past”

Lions Club Chorus PracticeIt’s time to celebrate and have a good time as the Cambridge Lions Club prepares for their 40th Annual Variety Show.  Back in 1974, that first show was simply called, A Minstrel Show. Many familiar local personalities participated in that first show at the State Theater for a two night run.

Dave Wilson and Ron GuthrieTwo of those performers, Ron Guthrie and Dave Wilson, actually happen to still be around today, and will be participating in this year’s show, Blast From the Past. These guys never seem to tire of the antics of the Lions Club Show. Both fun loving fellows remember that first year when members persuaded young Dave Wilson to surprise Ron Guthrie with a pie in the face before intermission.  Little did they realize that the cream on top had soured after being left at room temperature for several hours.  When Ron got his pie-in-the-face, he also got quite sick for most of the second half of the show.

By the way, Ron did get even for the pie-in-the-face, as he had promised Dave that first night.  Several years later, five to be exact, it was arranged for Dave Wilson to get arrested during one of the skits. Handcuffs seemed the appropriate method to get his hands behind his back. And you guessed it, Ron surprised him with a pie-in-the- face.  Dave said recently he was rather relieved at that time, because he had been waiting for it to happen for all five years.

Bob JonardHow did this all get started? Back in 1973 the Lions Club had agreed to help finance a wing for Guernsey Memorial Hospital and they were looking for a way to raise some extra dollars. As luck would have it, Bob Jonard moved to the Cambridge area with his musical family.  Bob had recently been involved with minstrel shows in both Adena and Wooster, so he encouraged the local Lions to give it a try.

Of course, many felt it wouldn’t work.  However, Bob Jonard found a great listening ear and enthusiasm in Ron Guthrie. Soon John Mehaffey and his wife, Frances, became supporters. This team put together that first show around their kitchen tables, and it was a great success.

Many of the performers have been around since their youth, have gone away to college or jobs, and then returned to their home town to again join in the fun of the show. For many of the participants, this is one of the highlights of their year.

Lions Show BandWhile funny skits and jokes filled the State Theater years ago, music was the main part of the program and still is today. The chorus, groups, and solos would be at a loss without the accompaniment of the Lions Show Band.  In the early years, the chorus only had a mimeographed copy of the basic music with no harmony parts included. They each sang their own special harmony to create a beautiful sound. Some of the songs from that first show included: A Bird in the Gilded Cage, Daddy Sang Bass, Sweet Gypsy Rose, and Mammy.  

The Flappers danced their way into people’s hearts with a bit of the Charleston to the then popular, Ballin’ the Jack. Since then, the can-can, black light dance specials, and even line dancing have entertained the crowds. You never really know what is going to happen at a Lions Club Show.

Bob Jonard, Howard Cherry, Dave Wilson and Bob Bistor during a 1977 showThe End Men and Interruptions create most of the laughter during the evening. The Lions Club members enjoy their own brand of humor as they tell jokes and often dress in outrageous costumes. They have great fun themselves while entertaining the crowd. Every year and even every night their antics are a little different.

Focus for the Cambridge Lions Club is on helping the blind and visually impaired. These Knights for Sight use all proceeds from the show to help those in need pay for eyeglasses and eye-related treatments. Your ticket purchase helps a great cause!

Lions_Show_2013Even though The Lion Sleeps Tonight in Cambridge, Ohio, you can be certain to Hear Those Lions Roar on March 21, 22, and 23. They will be roaring their “Blast from the Past” at the Scottish Rite Auditorium with a 7:30 showtime each evening.  They want to entertain you and will tell you in song, It’s true we make a better day, just you and me. They have over the years discovered that singing helps one harmonize with the universe. Come on and Celebrate!

Coming to the show from out of town? From I-70 take Exit 178 at SR 209. Proceed west on 209/Southgate Road until you arrive downtown at the Courthouse. Make a right hand turn and two traffic lights later you are in front of the Scottish Rite Auditorium at the corner of Wheeling Avenue and 10th Street.  It is across from the Cambridge Post Office. Coming from I-77, take Exit 180B, which is US 40 West. After approximately one mile, you will arrive in downtown Cambridge. At the corner of Wheeling Avenue and 10th Street, you will find the Scottish Rite Auditorium. Hope to see you there!

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