FORMATION OF THE KINGSTON VETERANS & SPORTSMEN CLUB
As recalled by Josey Hawanchak
In the beginning, a few years before the end of World War II, several imspired gentleman of the Kingston area- for esample: Earl Nuttall, Dave McClelland, Regis Reeping, Henry Reeping Jr. &Sr., Tom Giesey, john, Kozenko and Malcom Bennett, (to name a few); decided to for a local men’s club whose members could participate in sports and share fellowship over a few glasses of beer.
As a result, an organization called the “Kingston Sprortsmen Association” was formed. After holding elections, Earl Nuttall became the President while Regis Reeping became the secretary. Trustees were given a: life” term. Membership dues were set at $1.00 per year. According to Glenn Malloy, meetings were sometimes held at Reeping’s house and if weather permitted behind the old School house. The Club’s membership grew and a competitive baseball team was formed.
In 1945 after World War II ended, local veterans returned home. They too joined the “Kingston Sportsmen Association”. At this point in time, the “kingston Sportsmen Association” was applying for an alcohol license. However, their application was denied (the area’s quota for alcohol licenses was already filled). Led by Josey Hawanchak, Harold Hoke and others; an argument was made to dissolve the “Kingston Sportsmen Association” and form a Veterans organization in belief that a veteran’s organization might have a better chance to be granted an alcohol license. The membership agreed. The “Kingston Sportsmen Association” was dissolved and a new organization was formed.
The new organization was called the “Kingston Veterans and Sportsmen Club”. The name was worded to consider both veterans and sportsmen as club members. Elections of officers were conducted. The results were:
Josey Hawanchak Preside
A.A. (Sid) Richards Vice President
Regis Reeping Secretary (later replaced by Michael Skwara)
Clarence Hoke Financial Secretary
John Relick Treasurer
Lawrence Rhoades Trustee (later replaced by Clifford Baker)
David McClelland Trustee
Malcolm Bennett Trustee
Henry Reeping Trustee(later replaced by Harold Hoke)
Charles Hawanchak Trustee
Of special note: this time, the Trustees were voted into office for only one, two and three year terms. All other officers were voted into their respective offices for a term of one year. New by-laws were then drawn up and through a hired attorney, Joe Loughran, the Club’s Articles of incorporation were written, presented and approved, November 19, 1946, by the State of Pennsylvania. The Club’s alcohol license was then applied for and later approved after a mandatory wait period of one year. Actually, the wait period lasted about 18 months as alcohol licenses were only issued twice a year (once in the spring and once in the fall). After receiving its charter, the club’s wait period fell short by 19 days to qualify for the next issue of licenses. During the wait period, club members were placed on an honor system. That is, each member placed money in a box and retrieved his own beer from the cooler. There were no bartenders. It was said that a local Deer Distributor gave the Club one free case of beer for every ten cases purchased. At one point, fifty free cases of Stoney Beer were on hand.
Comments from RWL
The story does not end here: in fact there are many stories that can be told. In particular, we can give thanks to Josey Hawanchak who served as president for five of the first seven years. Josey’s wise decisions helped shape the club into what it is today. No doubt many an argument, regarding ways the club should proceed, occurred during Josey’s tenure. But, club members had their good side also. As substantiated in the minute books, members were very generous with their time and money. If something needed done, built, bought, ext., many a good man stepped forward. For example, it is said that Harry Beck, Armp Richards and others donated money to purchase the Burd property upon which the club building now stands. And on a certain Labor Day, more than 20 members reported to lay a foundation for the blub building.
Did you know that the Hoke Family donated land no used as our softball field? In appreciation, the softball field was named “The Hoke Field”. But, in the early 1960’s, a rededication service was held and the ball field was named “Kingston Memorial Field” in memory of local veterans who lost their lives while serving in the armed services. A Bronze plaque now stands next to the ball field and list the names of: PVT. Herman E. Price (K.I.A. WW I), PVT. Edward W. Leonhardt (K.I.A. WW II), PFC. William C. Hoke (K.I.A. WW II), Corporal Joseph Skwara (died while in service, WW II) and Seaman Joseph G. McClelland (died while in service, Korean Conflict). An additional name to be added is of SGT. Glen Patterson who died during the Vietnam War. The remaining Kingston Club land: the pond area, the pavilion area, and the orchard area were purchased from Malcolm Bennett while in 1959, the old club farm was purchased from Mike Hill. Other lands where purchased over later years.
Yes, the Kingston Veterans and Sportsmen Club took form in 1946 with less than 200 members. Today, nearly 67 years later, the Club has more than 1200 members. This includes Active, Social, and Honorary members. As recalled by Josey Hawanchak, the allowed number of charter members was initially set at 200. But, soon that number was extended to 230 to make room for several “good men”. Thereafter, all additional members where given “Social” status. The “Honorary” status was initiated and bestowed on disabled/ retired members at a much later date.