Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – With a unique fusion of crisp military precision and what locals are well familiar with as “Arcata time,” American Legion Post 274’s monthly meeting got underway at the crack of 6:05 p.m. last Friday night.
Legion meetings at the Arcata Veterans Memorial Building have taken place the first Friday of each month since 1922. Twenty-five legionnaires attended; two were female. The demographic was roughly split between younger veterans in their twenties and thirties, and longtime members in their sixties or better, reflecting a long period during which Arcata’s legion post wasn’t aggressively recruiting new members.
The first order of business was to receive a report by McKinleyville High School senior Jacob Smith on his recent attendance at the Legion’s Boys State conference in Sacramento. Boys State is a program in which sponsored high school students become part of the operation of local, county and state government.
In an often humorous report, Smith told of his experience as one of 57 young men from around California at the Boys State 2017 gathering in Sacramento. Smith said it had been “the most informative meeting of my life,” one in which he arrived as an uncertain novice and left as a “Boys State master.”
Smith said he presently has no political aspirations, but was asked to remember the folks back home if he ever does attain public office. He said he would.
The monthly treasurer’s report indicated nominal positive balances in the post’s accounts, and included news of one expenditure – a $700 sink unit for the newly refurbished canteen on the ground floor, now known as the Whiskey Locker.
T-shirts with military logos are being collected for creation of a new quilt to be auctioned off for fundraising. The post is looking for an able quiltmaker to make the quilt once enough shirts are available. It will pay a nominal fee for the service.
Legionnaire Phillip Nicklas offered a report on the monthly swing dances. A recent dance was attended by 30 people; however, 10 of those were band members. A house band is being assembled to perform at the dances, which occur on the fourth Friday and are free to post members.
James Lamping of the Humboldt State Veterans reported that his group will be the beneficiary of the March 7 Pints for Non-Profits at Redwood Curtain Brewing Co. One dollar from each purchased pint that day will go to the campus vets.
Arcata Veterans Group Auxiliary President Sophia D. Bogner has initiated a new Community Cleanup Project, which undertakes its first mission this Saturday.
Sterling and Veteran of Foreign Wars Commander Phil Irvine, now recovered from a recent car accident, will attend meetings of the Humboldt County Veterans Council for the American Legion and District 14 VFW in Ferndale on Feb. 17.
“It’s another way to involve another post,” Sterling said.
Sterling is trying to revive the Vets Hall’s auxiliary organizations, even as he attempts to overhaul their legacy sexist structure. These groups consist of spouses and offspring of Legion members, but not enough are stepping forward.
The Sons of the American Legion has just three participants so far; 10 are needed. The Women’s Auxiliary is also lacking in members. Sterling said the auxiliaries are needed in order to revive the hall’s Sunday brunches.
“Let’s get some more family involved,” Sterling asked.
American Legion Post 274 next meets Friday, March 7 at 6 p.m.