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August 13, 2009

Knife and Fork clubs once popular throughout the United States

Carol Ferguson - On Second Thought

Long before television, DVDs, computer games and surfing the Internet dominated the public’s evenings, Knife and Fork Clubs provided entertainment.

Organized as dinner clubs with guest speakers from throughout the world, the clubs were active in many U.S. cities, as far back as the 1930s.

In his book, “History of Greenville and Hunt County, Texas,” the late W. Walworth Harrison writes that the local Knife and Fork Club “... began in 1946, with Dr. F.L. Young as president, and Mrs. E.D. Barlow as secretary. The Archduke Felix of Austria was the speaker for the initial dinner on Oct. 7, 1946.”

According to items in the Greenville Evening Banner, the dinners were held initially in the roof garden atop the Washington Hotel, and were later moved to the Officers Club building at Majors Field.

An article in the July 22, 1949, edition noted that “Edgar Hutchins will lead the Greenville Knife and Fork Club as president for the coming season, following election of officers at the meeting of the board of directors recently ... New memberships into the club are available, however renewal of old memberships will be given preference ... Entering its fourth year in Greenville, the club had a membership of 200 last season. The first season found 150 memberships, with the second year memberships totaling 175. The club officials encourage suggestions from members regarding speakers for the dinner meetings. The Knife and Fork Club has been successful in the past season, and outstanding speakers in philosophy, art, business, world affairs and other current topics have been presented to members and guests.”

A Jan. 9, 1949, article told readers that Madame Suzanne Silvercruys, sculptress, painter, actor and lecturer, would be the speaker at the next dinner meeting at the Majors Field Officers Club, according to Joe Patella, Knife and Fork Club president. The speaker was identified as the daughter of the late president of the Supreme Court of Belgium and sister of the present Belgian ambassador to the U.S.

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