Bay Village teenage social clubs from the 1930s to the '50s

Mesama girls spent time at a cottage in Vermilion during the summer of 1948.

Not a lot was offered in the way of programs, athletic or social, for a teenager in Bay Village in the 1930-1950 time period. If you were a girl, you went to school and came home. You could have a job in a local store after school, babysit a neighbor’s child or help Mom at home. If you were lucky you had neighborhood friends to chat and laugh with after school. Boys had football, basketball, baseball or track; most just went home or to work. Nothing structured was offered from the high school or Bay Recreation Department for girls or boys back then.

The definition of a social club is: “where members go in order to meet each other and enjoy leisure activities.” Social clubs became popular with many of the teenage boys and girls at this time. The clubs met in members' homes after school and were supervised by a man or woman from the community.

At first, social clubs were developed to teach the young folk about life outside the home. They emphasized learning responsibility and how to maneuver in the world. The clubs sponsored dances, and members learned how to advertise the event, collect monies, sell tickets and hire a band. They discussed social skills. 

The boys in the Village had two social clubs. One was the Dekes. The girls had three clubs, two were Trigger and Mesama. After World War II, the boys' fraternities began to disappear. Trigger started to disappear when many from the Mesama group decided to stay together. Mesama continued to operate up to 1956. 

The girls named their club, Mesama. Although spelled incorrectly, it was meant to be the French phrase "mes amis," meaning "my friends." In the ninth grade, girls received an invitation to join Mesama. Mesama in the 1940s had a mom who chaperoned the meetings and activities the girls planned. My sister Barb, Class of 1949, and most of her friends were in Mesama. Once an active member, you paid dues and could participate in everything the club offered. Meetings were held in member’s homes. 

In the tenth grade another social club named Trigger gave out invitations to join their club. In the sophomore year of the Class of 1949, the Mesama girls, who all liked each other, decided to stay in Mesama and not go on to Trigger. A six-pointed star with their club name on it was fashioned and worn as a necklace. Trigger had a diamond shaped pin. In the summer, the Mesama and Trigger girls went to a cottage in Vermilion. My mom chaperoned one year with Helen Matyas, our neighbor across the street. My sister Gay and I went along.

The girls always seemed happy and to be having fun. Gay and I said we wanted to join too some day. And we did. Our Mesama didn’t have a mom, but we still met in each others' homes. Ours was entirely a friendship group. We didn’t put on dances and, hopefully, already knew some social skills. I was in Mesama until I graduated from high school in 1955.

Today, there is so much for a girl or boy to participate in at the high school and in the village that there isn’t the need for a social club. As much as I enjoyed the social club experience, I would have given anything to have been able to participate and choose from one of the many activities offered to girls today.

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Volume 9, Issue 22, Posted 9:53 AM, 11.21.2017