In the middle of the Great Depression, entertainment options in Syracuse were fairly limited. At the museum one day I came across a set of journals that were hand written by a group of housewives who decided to do something about that. In 1935 they formed the Syracuse Literary and Service Club, better known as “The Syra-Lita Club”.
Jetta Walker was one of the six founding members and her account explains why they formed the club and how they served the community.
“The depression years were upon us. It was a summer afternoon in 1935 and we were six young busy mothers wondering how we could improve our minds and contribute to our church and community.
All of us; Ruby B. Barber, Nora G. Cook, Sylvia W. Cook, Nona W. Holt, Ruby R. Rampton and Jetta W. Walker had been “transplanted” from neighboring communities when we married Syracuse “boys”, and we had a strong desire to be of service to our new town.
It took us two years to get fully organized, but by 1937 we had a club with twenty-nine members, a constitution, and by-laws. One of our by-laws stated that our “dues would be $1.00 per year. This was a hardship on some of the members so two installments could be made. The first women to serve as leaders were: President Loma Cook, Vice-president Ann Wilcox, and Jetta Walker as Secretary. Louise Steed had the [task] of naming our club the Syracuse Literary and Service Club (Syra-Lita Club).
Some of our services included selling bottles of vanilla, pies, and cakes at the tomato factory, offering popcorn and candy at the ward shows, performing a one act play, holding progressive dinners for five cents a serving, collecting door to door for the cancer and polio drives, hosting special literary events, and many other varied activities. One year we catered a ward banquet and were proud to present the bishop with the total earnings of $36.32. We also donated items to our church: a new curtain for the stage, a new mirror, coat rack, lights, and a table for the ladies restroom.
For fifty-five years we have met together from October to May. We have worked hard, felt inspired, made many dear friendships, and been uplifted in doing worthwhile projects and improving our minds.”
On January 24, 1995, five little old ladies met together for lunch and held the final meeting of the Syra-Lita Club, concluding a long tradition of service to others.
I tip my hat to the ladies of Syra-Lita.