Service Club

By Armand Urza

I moved to the Surprise Valley a couple of years ago. My neighbors are old-timers here. He was a cowboy but is too old now to ride. She is a real estate agent and very active in the community. They came over a few weeks ago to share a couple of his poems with me. We read them together and talked a bit about writing and also about what it was like to be a cowboy back in the day. As she was leaving my neighbor asked me if I’d like to come as their guest to a meeting of the Service Club. I had no idea what the Service Club is or does but I had nothing else to do so I decided to go.

The Service Club meets every two weeks in the Church of Christ on the town square, right across from a lovely green park. I was surprised to see some other neighbors there, plus quite a few people I didn’t know. We started the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance, something I thought that only elementary school students recite, but I guess other people do too. The guests were introduced, including me. In my mind, I imagined the woman who invited me saying, ”Oh and he’s gay.” But she never did. Then the Chair read some thank you letters from a high school student who had been given a scholarship and from the student’s teacher. The next topic was the Senior Luncheon at the County Fair, coming up in just a few weeks, which the club organizes and hosts. Anyone over 55 can eat for free. That includes me! I’m thinking of joining the club. It seems like they do a lot of good work for the local community. If someone’s pipes freeze in the winter, they help them out. If they lose their job and don’t have enough money for food, the club will give some support. I raised my hand to ask how they decide who to give money to. ”Oh, people just ask us,” they said.

Yesterday, the young waitress at the Country Hearth café told me that she had to drop out of college because her car died. I thought to myself that perhaps the Service Club could help her buy a new one.

A friend in town discovered that the shed in his backyard is actually a dormitory from the internment camp at Tule Lake that was used to incarcerate Japanese citizens during the Second World War. He found Japanese writing on the inside and had it translated. He doesn’t know what to do with the building, but feels that it isn’t right to just use it for storage. When I heard that it was the Service Club that was responsible for the recreated Western town called Louieville, comprised of old buildings like a jail, a mill, and so on, at the county fairgrounds, it occurred to me that my friend’s shed could be a good addition to this historical display. I will ask the Service Club if they would be interested.

10 August, 2022