We’ve asked some of the senior members of the Arcadia Rotary to recall some of their memories of the club’s early days. Here are some recollections from Frank Perini who has been a club member since 1959.
When I joined Rotary we had our meetings at Charlie Eaton’s Restaurant, which was located on the corner of Michillinda and Colorado in Pasadena. It is now a Coco’s Restaurant. There were about 60 members. The installation of officers and demotion was held at the same time. My 1st president was named John Bryant and he was demoted during installation and they made him carry as many watermelons as he could.
Most of the members were over 60 years old. The club was often called “The Old Men’s Club”. I was the youngest member by 25 years, as well as the first Mexican in the club. Because of my nationality and my young age I was not accepted too well. I asked the president if I could be the greeter at the door for only 2 months. I ended up being at the door for 5 years. To this day, we still have a greeter at the door.
Two members at the time were volunteers at the Methodist Hospital. They did meals on wheels. The bylaws at the time were that there could only be one member of each profession: one lawyer, one doctor and so on. For the first 10 years in the club, we all wore ties; it was not required but we all still dressed up.
Way back, I was one of the board of directors and part of my assignment, as well as that of two other members, was to try and get eight thousand dollars out of Los Angeles County to place a water fountain in the park that is located on the corner of Santa Anita and Huntington Drive. Finally we were able to get the money from them, and Rotary put in another five thousand
dollars. So today, we have a fountain.
There was a lot to be done in the city. We built the youth huts in some of the grammar schools, as well as the little league baseball fields. We also worked on the Rotary Memorial behind the Chamber of Commerce building. We hauled tons and tons of rock from lrwindale guarry. I put in 105 hours of labor. The memorial is still being used by youth today. We also built the first building at Camp Trask, which is now being used as the administration building.
We fought to keep the ladies out of Rotary. We took it to the State Supreme Court, and we lost. A lawyer from our club took the case.
The club started taking photos 54 years ago. A member of the club by the name of George Tyror was the club photographer using Polaroid Film. Sixteen years later he passed away. lt was then that I was assigned to become the photographer of the club. For better than 44 years I have taken thousands of photos for the club. I put together a photo album for each president, placing over a thousand prints in each book. The system changed when Brad Miller became president. He stopped the photo prints and went to electronic photography. There was no club within the club. Today we have the lce Breakers.
Rotary also bought a mobile home and we built 4 rooms inside. When we finished it was moved to Tijuana for the orphans. There was one room for dental, another room for medical, and a room for x-rays. Doctors from Rotary go twice a year to this location and help the orphans with their medical problems. We built wooden benches for the memorial behind the Chamber of Commerce building. We also built a barbecue grill on a trailer. We could put over 200 wieners on the grill, and we also moved this trailer to Tijuana for the orphans.