Haddonfield 65 Club: No Women Need Apply
Men's only retiree's club focuses on friendship.
Far from a secret society, Haddonfield’s 65 Club seems shrouded in mystery. But only to women.
Like a neighborhood boys’ club all grown up, the door to the small brick building in the first block of Rhoads Avenue could post a sign: No Girls Allowed.
The males-only rule is rigid, although the club admits women as speakers at their weekly meetings. Women also are invited to a spring luncheon at Tavistock Country Club, and on bus trips, when they and “outsiders” can fill the seats to make the trip viable. A quick run-through of the club’s membership roster shows almost all list spouses by first names, perhaps an indication of the divorce rate among retirees in the borough. More of the 150 members list spouses than list email addresses.
The small building, a polling place for residents until it was deeded to what also is known as the retired men’s club in 1955, remains owned by the borough. It’s been renovated several times and a scrapbook stashed near the door shows photos of the updates in progress.
Members are responsible for the costs of utilities and repairs but the borough handles lawn care—a chore that seemed to have slipped a little before a recent visit. The grass had gotten a bit out of control in the last few weeks, admitted one of the members last week, to the point that a neighbor sent over her lawn care service.
The clubhouse, with a tidy kitchen with oak cabinets and a carpeted floor boasts no other amenities. It is as removed as possible from a smoky boisterous men’s club. There is a large, but not gigantic, flat-screen television mounted on one wall, used primarily for participation in Wi games.
Card tables are unfolded for twice-weekly pinochle and bridge games. A dartboard is often in use. There’s no stash of magazines or newspapers, no comfy chairs.
Weekly meetings are followed by packaged cookies and ice cream served on disposable plates, two scoops per person.
There is no smoking (it’s a borough-owned building). There is no drinking (it’s a borough-owned building). When the Indian King Tavern on Kings Highway had a beer-tasting event last spring as a fundraiser, the men decided to schedule a similar event of their own, but first had to get a special permit. The permit was granted by a 2-1 vote of the borough commissioners, Haddonfield's highest elected officials. (No one would identify the dissenter, but the pronoun “she” was mentioned.)
The commissioners are Ed Borden, Jeff Kasko and Tish Colombi, the mayor.
The members aren’t yet broadcasting their thoughts about planning a wine-tasting program in the fall. Members only, of course.
What is here is a feeling of friendship, support and good humor. Good-natured chiding is continuous, except for the moments at the beginning of the meeting dedicated to the Pledge of Allegiance, and an off-key but loud singing of “America the Beautiful,” followed by a thoughtful message from the chaplain, Dr. Louis D. Dunkle.
There was a bit of niggling by one member that after weekly card games, especially on the day before the Thursday meetings, participants left tables standing, which made it a bit of a chore to vacuum.
Generally about 30 men attend the weekly meetings. Some members are assigned as chairs of activities, from raffles and golf to finance and friendship.
Through its $20 annual membership dues, the club awards a scholarship to a student at Haddonfield Memorial High School, contributes regularly to the local American Legion post, and has other philanthropic activities.
The group participates in the borough’s Fourth of July parade and has a table at the Lions Club flea market each September.
Membership is open to male residents of Haddonfield who are over 65 or retired, or are congregants at a church in town. If a potential member doesn’t meet the residence requirement and participates in the club’s activities for a year, he could be invited to join.
Members who have moved from the borough may continue their membership by continuing to pay their $20 dues. The dues are waived for members over 90, according to the bylaws.
Men interested in joining the Haddonfield 65 Club should contact president Robert Parsons at 795-1465 or first vice president William Brown at 429-4368.