Celebrating 100 Years: Politics & Poetry at Madison Rotary Club in the 1960s

Rotary Club of Madison-Centennial Logo   As we celebrate our 100th anniversary, our History Sub-Committee is taking a look back in our club’s rich history and is sharing highlights from the past century.  This week’s message is shared by committee member Jerry Thain:

The polarization of politics today is a topic of widespread analysis. As is well known, there is no official political leaning of our Club although individual members certainly are free to express strong views to others at their table during the Club meetings (and sometimes in a birthday message). It is unusual for the Club newsletter to note political leanings other than in reporting the statements of speakers. Thus, an interesting situation was presented in 1968, following the very narrow victory of Richard Nixon over Hubert Humphrey in the presidential race. In the November 16, 1968, Club newsletter, Rotarian Cecil L. “Duke” Duquaine wrote a tribute to Nixon, referring to him as the one who would bring us together as a country–rather ironic in light of later developments.

Probably as a means of evenhandedness, the November 23, 1968 newsletter carried a poem by Rotarian Joe Silverberg entitled, “The Loyal Opposition…or Close Counts Only in Horseshoes!” This piece, while honoring Humphrey, also recognized the control that election victory brought to Nixon and his party.

Perhaps present day Rotarians–including Joe Silverberg–will find these two poems about politics somewhat bemusing. It is hard to imagine anything similar occurring today.

Incidentally, Cecil L. Duquaine who was Club President in 1966-67, apparently enjoyed expressing his views in poetry. The December 17, 1966, edition of the Club News carries a poem by him extolling the hardworking and dedicated secretary of the Club, Brud Hunter, entitled “Our Brud.” It seems certain that there was no effort to rebut that piece by other Rotarians in light of the excellent reputation of Brud Hunter as vital to the Club’s successful operation. The duties of the Secretary noted in the poem may be compared with those of the Executive Director’s office today, if one wishes.

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