Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
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Mary Alice Powell

Women’s clubs focus on learning


Mary Alice Powell.

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In 1883, a group of women in the Monroe, Mich., area organized Friends in Council. In 1913, the Profit and Pleasure Club of Waterville held its first meeting.

Both clubs were organized for the purpose of advancing members’ knowledge on a wide range of subjects. Both groups are still going strong and I had the pleasure of learning more about their goals and subjects, and meeting their members, when I served as the guest speaker for the organizations’ lunches last week.

The Profit and Pleasure group set aside the usual serious subject matter to celebrate its 100th birthday with champagne and sugar cream pies. The luncheon was held at Degage Café in Maumee.

The Friends in Council Founders Day observance of 128 continual years was held at the Monroe Country and Golf Club. Just having lunch together is somewhat of a celebration for the members. Their meetings are strictly educational. They meet in members’ homes and bypass serving food, even coffee or tea and cookies. With the exception of two socials a year, the Monroe club women concentrate on the year’s study theme.

The study topic for Friends in Council this year was “Exploring the World of Art.” A member is assigned a subject relating to the theme decided by the club president and it is presented at the monthly meeting. The assignments are posted in the yearbook in advance.

The theme is a guarded secret until the yearbooks are distributed on Founders Day. It was exciting at last week’s meeting when members opened their 2014-2015 yearbook to learn that India would be the subject. It was the decision of Ann Orwin, of Carleton, Mich., the new president, who was program chairman this year.

This year’s study theme included trips to the Toledo Museum of Art and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Art was the choice of Cheri Weakly, Monroe, outgoing president.

Liz Gabehart, of Ida, Founders Day chairman, and a docent at the Toledo museum, praised the Friends in Council art programs.

“I learned so much that I didn’t know,” she said. “We learned how to judge and interpret art, and about women in the art world.”

I was asked to relate art and food, from the dinner plate, to a painting, and particularly in photographs that I styled for The Blade’s food pages for many years. Table centerpieces designed by Peggy Cousino, of Erie, were colorful examples of food as art and included her collection of exquisite hand-painted eggshells.

The women who founded the Waterville club in 1913 hoped to profit from the knowledge of the world outside their small village that they could exchange and the pleasure they would derive from each other’s company; hence the name Profit and Pleasure.

The 101st year will begin Oct. 7 with Barbara Page, Waterville, as president, and “Ohio: Mother of Presidents,” as next year’s study topic The life of President Ulysses S. Grant, who was born in Georgetown, Ohio, is scheduled to be the first of seven presidents born in Ohio reviewed.

Mrs. Robert Mulholland was the first president. Pollie Miller, Waterville, her great-granddaughter, was a special guest at the 100th anniversary lunch.

The committee felt compelled to have a birthday cake, but the dessert that brought raves was the sugar cream pie. Deb Cheney of Waterville baked six pies using the following heirloom family recipe.

Sugar Cream Pie

2 cups whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup flour

1 teaspoon salt, or less

½ cup white sugar

½ cup brown sugar

¼ teaspoon nutmeg


Deep 9-inch pie crust (use commercial, if desired)

Combine cream and vanilla and let set 10 minutes and do not stir. Mix flour and salt in mixing bowl and gradually stir in ⅔ cup of the cream and vanilla. When smooth add white and brown sugars. Mix well before adding the remaining ⅓ cup cream and vanilla. Let stand 20 minutes to be sure sugars are dissolved.

Pour into deep 9-inch pie crust. Sprinkle top with nutmeg and dot with butter. Bake 10 minutes in 300-degree oven. Increase heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 45 minutes.

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor. Contact her at:

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