NORWAY – It's said that when Margaret Chase Smith was campaigning for her Senate seat in 1948 she stopped in the Weary Club on Main Street, where women never dared to enter, to get some political wisdom.
The history of the Weary Club will be the program Wednesday, June 13 at Norway Historical Society on Main Street. The club is defined by its first president as a place where “makers and dealers in cedar shavings, social gossip, political wisdom and Yankee philosophy” meet to socialize in a small Greek Revival building.
Beginning at 7 p.m., Wayne Chandler, president of The Weary Club, will talk about the history of the unique institution that was founded in Norway in the early 1920s as a place for men to gather to whittle and socialize.
No one seems to know exactly how the Weary Club got its name, but members do know the founders liked to whittle and membership to the club was said to be granted only to those who could carve a cedar shaving light enough to float.
It's said that the club was formed by a few businessmen who would gather around a potbellied stove in a vacant store with their cedar for whittling and spittoons for spitting. Writers of the club history said it was a habit grown out of many long winter nights when men gathered to play cribbage, smoke , whittle and tell fish tales about the one that got away. When the proprietor closed the inn for the winter, the club's first president, Fred Sanborn, found another site in a vacant store in the old Robert Noyes block.
According to the club's history, when that building was sold to a local bank, Sanborn acquired a portion of the land and built the little Greek-Revival style building that became known as the Weary Club. Officers were elected and bylaws adopted, including some that prohibited gambling, drinking and telephones. Conversations had to be restricted to fishing, hunting and a few other topics, including limited village gossip.
When Sanborn died in 1938, he left the club $20,000 to be invested by a local bank with the stipulation that the club give $40 to local children at Christmas who were under the age of 10.
That amount has now been raised to $100 each year.
Many more stories about this unique institution will be told during the presentation Wednesday. It is free and open to the public.
The Norway Historical Society is located at 471 Main Street. More information about the Norway Historical Society and its programs are available at the society's website at norwayhistoricalsociety.org or by calling 207-743-7377.