AFAN is a non-profit social organization based in Athens, Ohio for women. Founded in 1969, it assists women from Athens and the surrounding communities to make friends and become better acquainted with the area. With nearly 300 members, belonging to AFAN is open to anyone, no matter how long they have been in the area. Dues are $20.00 per year.
AFAN opens the year with an evening reception in September.
Monthly luncheons or dinners are held on the second Thursday of each month through May. In addition, there are Special Event trips to interesting places in Ohio on the fourth Thursday of each month.
The heart of AFAN is our Interest Groups where small groups of members meet to share a common interest. Some of our current interest groups include: Antiques & Collectibles, Knitting, Book Review, Bridge, Euchre, Hooked on Crochet, Gourmet, Needlework, Tongue and Thimble, Pho-tos(Scrapbooking), Quilting, Lunch Bunch, and Women Who WhINE.
During the year new and prospective members are invited to attend our Newcomers' Coffee. This gives us an opportunity to get to know our new members and introduce them to other members.
September: Do you remember the song “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies? Well, it was the favorite pop song in September 1969. So, I just have to assume it was ‘sweet’, just as our AFAN year will be starting in September. When the first fall reception was held for AFAN in September, 1969, they had 120 in attendance. According to an article from The Athens Messenger, September 14, 1969, about 200 names were listed on interest group sign-up sheets. That’s of course considering many women signed up for more than one group. Maureen Wootton was listed as program chair and Bea Rothel, arrangements chair. Hospitality was handled by Judy Billups and Vernah Gardner. Let’s make our attendance and sign-up as big or bigger!!
October: Well, with all the latest devastation caused by the
hurricane and tropical storm Florence, we hope that there are no more tragedies this year. In 1969, when AFAN began, the hurricane season was the most active since 1933 with 12 hurricanes in the Atlantic. One of the hurricanes, Camille, made landfall and caused significant devastation to the Gulf Coast. Fortunately, Athens was not harmed by Camille and AFAN rolled along as a new group.
In October, 1969, the group had a luncheon at Baker Center (the old one which was uptown where the OU School of Journalism is now) and the program was Dr. Stanton Oates speaking on “Nature’s Paintbrush.” They had 98 in attendance. Let’s try to match that.
November: As I was researching some past events from November 1969, I found that Sesame Street debuted at that time!! How many of you remember watching yourself or with children or grandchildren? AFAN had younger members and an active Mom and Tots interest group when I joined in 1979. If you know someone who is younger and would like to join, we do have evening meetings and interest groups!! Just ask them; maybe we can get some younger members. The world has changed since 1969, definitely everyone working now!!
December: As we look back, I’m taking you to December 1968, just prior to January when AFAN started. The cost of gas was 34 cents a gallon? A new home cost just under $15,000 and the average rent was about $130. How many remember those low prices? Inflation over time has definitely raised the cost of almost everything. The winter Olympics were in France. Apollo 8 orbited the moon and returned to Earth. The fashions for women included mini-skirts, high boots, bell bottoms, and tunic tops to mention a few. We all wore these, correct???? AFAN was gearing up for their very first meeting in January, 1969. They gathered for monthly meetings through May. They waited until April to elect officers and that board served the rest of the year into the following year.
January: We are coming up on the 50 years celebration of the very first meeting of AFAN held in January 1969. You have already read many things over the last year and a half about the background and what was going on in the United States and World in the months leading up to this celebration. We will be having a small birthday celebration at the January meeting, including cake and lots of good food. You will soon be able to register for our larger celebration taking place on May 9, 2019 at the Ohio University Inn. We will begin taking registrations at our February 14 meeting. In January, Live Local magazine will feature an article celebrating the 50-year history of Athens Friends and Newcomers. Copies will be available in various stores, restaurants and some offices throughout Athens and surrounding areas. Don’t forget to pick up a copy. AFAN will be featured at the Southeast Ohio History Center in January, along with some other local groups. AFAN will have two showcases and this display should be up about mid-January. We will let you know details as they are received. If you have AFAN items from the past, especially the early years, please contact me so we can arrange to get them in our display cases!!
February: Thanks to Kim Knapp-Brown, who volunteers at the
Southeast History Center, I was able to get a copy of the March 1969 Athens Friends and Neighbors newsletter. It was noted that they had seventy-one ladies in attendance at the February 1969 meeting and that they celebrated with the theme of ‘Birthday Fun.’
One of the activities they did was to have everyone sit at tables with those individuals who had the same birth month. Since Interest Groups were just getting formed, different members donated favors and door prizes. These prizes included Magi grip favors, Hallmark Cards, donated date books and stationary, gift boxes of Lucien LeLong cologne and also wine!! Wow, what wonderful prizes for their first real meeting. organizing a tennis group to play at the O.U. courts in spring and summer and a sailing group to be based at Lake Logan. What fun.
March: I was reading the March 1969 newsletter and realized that the group planned for their March meeting at the Ohio University Inn. Their registration was at 11:30 and lunch at 12:15. The later lunch time was to allow the ‘working’ ladies time to get to the luncheon meeting. Their program was ‘Stitch and Sew’; members modeled the outfits they had sewn. How many of you used to (or still do) make many of your clothes? I know my mom made all of mine and I was always excited when I had a new outfit to wear to school.
Later in the newsletter, the Arts and Crafts interest group, which had already started, gave a presentation on decoupage from Mrs. Lowell Rapp of Rapp’s Wallpaper and Paint Store. I bet many of you remember that store from long ago. It was still there near Stimson Avenue when we moved to town in 1979.
April: AFAN had its first ‘emblem’ or logo as we now call it
when the group started in 1969. Marlene Weinfurtner and
Sue Moore designed the fan being held by the ‘hand of
friendship’. The letters AFAN were near the top of the fan. This emblem or logo for the group held for many years and was printed on program booklets, directories, newsletters, and other projects. That is how AFAN was identified.
As the computer age came into play more and more members used technology, the early logo became harder to use. A few years ago a newer logo was designed that would be easier to use electronically. The original logo and the newer one have both been used in the last couple of years. During a review of past Board minutes, no documentation was found that the newer logo had been officially adopted by the AFAN Board. Which logo to use was discussed at the most recent board meeting. The Board voted to ‘officially’ use the newer logo.
May: This will be our last ‘Looking Back’ column as we near the final 50th year celebration on May 9th. I want to mention the four members who were given Lifetime Memberships in AFAN. Founder, Jean Elliott, was awarded the first Lifetime Membership in spring, 1988 at the Athens
Country Club. Nancy Matthews, founder and first President was awarded this honor in September, 1996. Nancy gave me Jean Elliott’s original speech, that she gave when receiving this honor, to be placed in our archives at the Southeast Ohio History Center. Judy Billups was awarded a Lifetime Membership in January, 1999. She was able to celebrate with her whole family present at the AFAN meeting. These three founders certainly deserve these honors for all they have done for Athens Friends and Newcomers over the last 50 years.Ruth Ellen Story was made a lifetime member shortly after her 100th birthday in 2015!!
Well done, all lifetime members!