Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Brief History of Club Fundraisers

It's that time of year again. The club will host its third annual Progressive Visions video contest and fundraiser, Saturday, April 20, at Pittsburgh Filmmakers’ Melwood Screening Room. The club finances itself almost exclusively through the fundraiser and membership dues.

The club's first fundraiser was held in August 1964, at Molly Yard’s house. Upwards of 400 tickets were sold, and some people were turned away. As a storm brewed on party day, some of the proceeds were eaten up in a last minute tent rental. Of course, it didn’t rain.

That event kicked off a long string of barbeques at what was then called the Schenley Park Athletic Pavilion (now Vietnam Veterans Pavilion). For $2.50 attendees got beer, hot dogs and stump speeches. In 1973 the price went up a buck.

Planning the sixth annual "Swanky Ball" (L to R): Nan Matthews; Beatrice Goldszer (Bicky!); Joyce Lee Itkin; and Barbara Fenton. [Click on picture for larger image.]
Another popular club function was the Swanky Ball, which was just the opposite of swanky. It was initially held at the Irene Kaufmann Settlement, later moving to the YMCA in Oakland. The price for the early balls was $7.50 for dancing and refreshments (booze was extra).

One year the club threw a “Stay at Home” fundraiser. (Stay home and send money!) It was reportedly a welcome break for some committee people who tired of the candidate fundraiser merry-go-round.

Another one-time fling was called the Tidal Basin Affair--in honor of U.S. Rep. Wilbur Mills’ famous watery frolic with stripper Fanne Foxe--and was held at a club member’s swimming pool.

Club fundraiser special guests have ranged from Donald Fraser, a liberal congressman from Minnesota who accepted an invitation to a 1965 barbeque, to political cartoonist Tom Tomorrow, New Yorker humorist Andy Borowitz, and The Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi. 

(Excerpted from "Founding of the 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club", a talk delivered by club board member Nat Hershey at the February 13, 2006 meeting of the Squirrel Hill Historical Society.)

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