History of Our Clubs – South Omaha #154
A Not So Short Review of South Omaha Aerie & Auxiliary #154 (they’re words, not mine)
Chartered on April 13, 1901, with 51 members, South Omaha Aerie #154 was born. At one point, the Aerie had over 5000 members, and currently there are 600 plus members on the rolls.
The first location used for meetings was a house in South Omaha, followed by a church, and then on to the big building at 23rd & “N” Streets with a large club room, small kitchen, and an upstairs ballroom – used for meetings, dancing, special events, as well as some sporting events including boxing. In the early 1960’s, that building was renovated, doubling it in size to accommodate the growing membership. The kitchen was expanded, a comfortable lounge area for small dances and parties was added on the main floor, and a second large ballroom was added on the second floor. State conventions, Regional Conferences, MINK Conferences, high school honors banquets, and other special events could be held in their entirety at the Aerie home. Unfortunately, as membership dwindled, the huge building became difficult to sustain and a new building was acquired in the early 2000’s. After renovations were completed, it has proved to be a comfortable and modern Aerie home for the new millennium.
Aerie #154 chartered its Auxiliary on October 28th, 1951, with 65 members. At one time, the Auxiliary had over 1100 members, and currently, the Auxiliary has 300 plus members on the rolls.
The longevity of the Aerie, and subsequently the Auxiliary, saw many, many changes over the years. Here are just a few that are noteworthy:
Several types of charters for the Auxiliary were applied over the years, the original being a closed charter restricting Auxiliary membership to wives and widows of Aerie members. In the late 70’s, the charter was changed to a restricted charter which allowed other female family of Aerie members to join the Auxiliary. Finally, the charter was changed to an open charter, lifting the restrictions on Auxiliary members. However, if a woman does have a husband it is strongly recommended that he join the Aerie.
Clear into the late 60’s and early 70’s, women were not allowed in the Aerie home after 7:00 on weekly Aerie meeting nights. When the men went to meeting the bar was closed.
Bringing children to the Aerie home was discouraged and restricted on Sundays. However, the Aerie did host a huge Children’s Christmas Party that required two sessions to accommodate the 500-800 children that would attend.
AND, if memory serves, it was into the late 80’s or early 90’s before women were hired as bartenders. One exception was a woman who worked in the lounge area of the Aerie home.
A variety of clubs-within-the-club were sanctioned including a CB Club, Camping Club, Flying Club, Jr. Eagles, REAC (Retired Eagles Activity Club), Square Dancing Club, and an Under 35 Club. Bowling leagues were sponsored for the Aerie and the Auxiliary; ballroom dances were held every Saturday evening (no pants for the ladies and no jeans allowed); huge chicken dinners held monthly serving 500 people (the earliest price recalled was $2.50 per person for a half chicken dinner); Bill Bailey sing-a-longs (an early version of karaoke); an annual picnic; football pep rallies including crazy skits; an annual variety show production as part of a membership campaign; BINGO was sponsored; and Las Vegas Nights were held as fundraisers for the five charity funds – Cancer Fund, Heart Fund, Children’s Fund, Golden Eagle Fund, and the Nebraska Boys’ Ranch.
Finally, South Omaha is proud of its accomplishments. The work has been hard, but it has allowed us to donate thousands of dollars to local, state, and national charities. In addition, we are proud to be the home of GWP Russ Clark, as well as other grand officers, regional officers, state officers, state Hall of Fame honorees, and national Hall of Fame honorees. We are proud to be actively involved in leadership rolls, as well as our ongoing mission of being “People Helping People.”