Capital Region Scrapbook: Gavel to gavel coverage

Order, order — the first January business at many clubs and fraternal organizations in the Capital R
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Categories: Life & Arts

Order, order — the first January business at many clubs and fraternal organizations in the Capital Region is the introduction and installation of new officers.

Members of volunteer fire departments and their auxiliaries, Free and Accepted Masons, the Odd Fellows, the Toastmasters, the Abruzzese Society and the Laziale Society held gavels and wore smiles for the ceremonies in 1970.

Toni Ciliberti of Scotia, who became president of the East Glenville Volunteer Fire Department’s Auxiliary that year, remembers the installations often came with celebrations. “We used to go out for a formal dinner and get dressed up in formal gowns, our husbands were with us,” said Ciliberti, who remains an auxiliary member. “Our motto was ‘Dedicated to serve the firefighters and the community with pride.’ ”

At fire scenes, auxiliary members were on hand to serve hot coffee, soup and sandwiches. Ciliberti also said her group awarded scholarships to students at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School, made medical equipment such as wheelchairs and crutches available to district members and sponsored spaghetti dinners and clam chowder sales. Women also marched in parades. “We had so much fun, we really did,” Ciliberti said.

By 1970, some clubs already had long histories. The Mohawk Pipe Club had been around since 1945 and quickly had 200 members on its roster. But aficionados of pipe tobacco brands like Borkum Riff and Prince Albert were fading by 1970, and only a handful of members were lighting up at the group’s monthly meetings at Mother Ferro’s restaurant.

Richard DiCristofaro served as vice president of Schenectady’s Abruzzese Society in 1970. The group remains committed to the promotion of the cultural, social and educational heritage of the Abruzzo region of Italy.

“They were parts of the regular monthly meeting, they were nothing special,” DiCristofaro said of the installation ceremonies.

The new officers would take oaths of office. Because the positions in the community clubs were considered somewhat prestigious, presidents, vice presidents, secretaries and treasurers could also count on photographs in the Schenectady Gazette.

“The Gazette was always good to the fraternal organizations,” DiCristofaro said.

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