Ladies club celebrates 75 years in Steamboat

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The Ladies Recreation Club celebrated its 75th anniversary Saturday at the Scott Center on Rollingstone Drive. In that room, over tea and cookies, almost 40 women discussed the decades they have spent together.

Among the members, there were four women whose mothers were original members of the LRC, a ski club that started in 1924 when Carl Howelsen took a group of women to the hot springs to learn how to ski. To be a member of the LRC, you must be invited and voted in as a member. Daughters and daughters-in-law of members are automatically invited to join.

Phyllis Allen (daughter of Faye Allen), Carol Sue Stehley (daughter of Pearl Stehley), Barbara Bostock and her sister Shirley Combs (daughters of Frances Poulson) all inherited their places in the LRC.

Club dues have always been, and still are, $1 a year.

Lorene Workman was born and raised in Steamboat but couldn't join the club until she was 75 years old, abiding by a rule of the Ladies Recreation Club -- if you have a full-time job, you can't be a member.

"It just wasn't done back then," said Shirley Combs, who couldn't join until 1977 for the same reason.

The club was formed in 1924 as a way for women to ski together in the winter and hike, camp and fish in the summer. Members of the LRC also were big supporters of Winter Carnival.

They used to sponsor the Diamond Hitch portion of the carnival and give out a trophy to the best skier.

The women no longer ski, but they still meet every Wednesday for tea and conversation in each other's homes or at the Scott Center, in the Selbe Apartments.

The Ladies Recreation Club used to have a rule that once a member turned 90, she didn't have to host any more meetings. No more making sandwiches and tea for fellow members. At 90, it was time to relax.

But that rule changed recently because so many members were older than 90. Ann Casey, who was brought into the group 10 years ago by her good friend Natalie Stanko, still has to host at age 92.

Sandra Sherrod is one of the youngest members of the group. She was invited to join by Frances Wither and was voted in 1 1/2 years ago.

"It's fun to be with all the ladies I grew up with," Sherrod said.

As one of the longest lasting social clubs in Steamboat Springs, many of the women have known each other since they were young newlyweds. They struggled through motherhood together and celebrated the births of grandchildren together.

And many have watched together as the Yampa Valley changed from a ranching town to a ski town.

"When I was in high school in 1936, I walked to school on board sidewalks," Workman said. "There were a few horses in town, and Oak Creek was bigger than Steamboat."

Nada Scholar, who was born and raised in Steamboat, remembers being able to walk across the street without any fear of cars and coming into town on Saturday nights because "that's when everyone was in."

"It would probably take all night to tell how much it has changed," she said.

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