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Spring luncheon is steeped in tradition

Smith Memorial hosts its annual spring salad luncheon and sale Thursday, April 24


by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: JEFF MUCEUS - Hats are encouraged at the annual Smith Memorial Presbyterian Church's spring salad luncheon. A baked goods, crafts and plants sale will feature a variety of homemade items.

A beloved 85-year tradition featuring a feast of salads, an array of spring hats and a flock of aproned ladies returns to Fairview next week.

Smith Memorial Presbyterian Church, 2420 Fairview Ave., will host its annual spring luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, April 24.

Attendees are encouraged to wear spring hats to the luncheon, which includes a sale of baked goods, crafts and plants. The cost is $8, with proceeds benefiting the church and community charities.

For organizers Janet Pomazi and Ilona Skipper, both of whom grew up in the area and started attending Smith Memorial as young women, the annual event is like a homecoming.

It’s the strong sense of community tradition that keeps the luncheon going, they said.

“We look forward to coming and seeing old friends,” Skipper said. “There are 12 tables filled with people laughing and talking. A lot of these ladies have gone to the church at some point. Even if they don’t attend anymore, they keep coming back for the luncheon.”

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: JEFF MUCEUS - The luncheon menu includes a variety of salads, rolls and desserts. Twelve tables of community members will fill Smith Memorial with laughter and conversation next Thursday.

Historian in residence Norma Ruble opened a scrapbook filled with spring luncheon memorabilia dating back to the early years.

The tradition began as a hot meal in the early 1930s, when the Women’s Society, eventually called Ladies Aid, wanted “to have some sociability and raise money toward its pastor’s salary.”

Originally, the luncheons were held at Bill and Margaret Stone’s home on Blue Lake Road, as the church had no kitchen.

About 50 to 60 men and women attended during the early years, including students, teachers and the Fairview Grade School principal.

In a note, Margaret Stone joked that the ladies served Edna Campbell’s “delicious chicken biscuit,” fooling many by making it with pork.

“It would be fun to recreate the original menu one of these years,” organizer Janet Pomazi said with a laugh.

The luncheon moved to Smith Memorial in the 1940s, with women sharing heirloom family recipes. Over the years, the recipes went into cookbooks, used so many times, “they became personal friends.”

Pomazi, Skipper and Ruble share many luncheon memories over the years. There was the time they had to give money back to attendees because they ran out of food.

There was the year the organizers were so busy, they never ate and had to stop at Taco Bell.

One year, a man made a three-layer cake with white seven-minute frosting so popular that “people would fight to get the pieces.”

And there was a heartwarming raffle in which a quilt went to a cancer patient. Before she died, the quilt was donated back to the community and made its way into two more raffle benefits.

In 2003, The Outlook featured three generations of the Sunderland family, Julie, Emily, Fran and Joan, who attended the luncheon together. Fran had earned accolades over the years for her deviled eggs.

Men are of course invited, too, with many of them lovingly designated as the event dishwashers.

In recent years, the luncheon has garnered about 100 participants and raised about $2,000 for 12 community organizations and church expenses each year.

The sale features donated hanging baskets, smaller plants, gift cards, homemade hot pads, decorative towels, jewelry, purses, scarves, mini wallets and baby bibs.

With the church’s 125th anniversary approaching in 2015, Pomazi and Skipper said organizers planned to create another cookbook, like the original one created in the 1970s.

“The luncheon is such a longtime tradition of the church,” Pomazi said. “We want to see it continue.”

AT A GLANCE

What: Smith Memorial Presbyterian Church's annual spring luncheon. An array of salads and a baked goods, crafts and plants sale.

When: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, April 24.

Where: 2420 Fairview Ave.

Info: 503-667-6800.



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