By DAMON WOODS
Special To The Leader
The continuing saga of the Oakdale Lions, during the 1950s, as the world adjusted to a somewhat peacetime after the Korean War, the Lions expanded their service projects. The Lions primary focus was and is on youth. Helping kids to grow and become the leaders of tomorrow.
Some of the major projects undertaken by the Lions were: Regular projects included the Eye Glasses program (any child in Oakdale whose parents could not afford an eye exam and glasses, the cost of this was covered by the Lions – this program still exists in 2018). The Student Speaker contest was held every year, allowing the winner to receive a small scholarship donation toward college and a chance to win more scholarship funds in competition with other students at the zone, regional, district and State levels. Camp scholarships were given to kids in the area – both boys and girls. Boy Scouts were lead and funds provided by the Lions and many other community-based programs. These programs were funded by the various fundraisers such as the Annual Pancake Breakfast (started in 1955), the Calendar Project, Gum Machines, Christmas Tree sales, Broom Sales and several smaller fundraisers. Other projects included the Santa Fe Park clean up and renovations in 1951, 1953, and later clean-up of Woodward Reservoir camping and picnic areas.
Physical projects included the building of picnic tables, purchase of BBQ pits for all parks in the City of Oakdale. Renovations and upgrades to the Santa Fe Park, including a restroom building. The Lions helped to build the Youth building near the High School which is still being used today. The Lions also paid for new playground equipment for Santa Fe Park and installed it too. In late 1959, the Dorado Club house burned – this was the place where all clubs met for meetings and events. So, the Lions started going to the Oakdale Bowl, located in the basement of the current Bank Building of Oak Valley Bank.
Every holiday season, the Lions would provide donations of food and toys for needy kids in Oakdale. But, as the 1950s progressed, the Lions club lost a few members and the total club aged a bit too, as the average age climbed to the late 50s … this trend continues today as well. In the late 1950s, Oakdale was growing too; more housing was planned and more schools. The Lions were involved with the parks and the schools by providing the labor to make improvements to allow the kids of Oakdale to have safe areas for play and recreation. The Oakdale Lions also participated in each new school year, by manning booths at the Annual PTA carnival.
Major events during the 1950s included: The Korean War, the McCarthy Communism investigations, Rock and Roll was born, Television was becoming a part of the American family with shows like Bonanza, Ed Sullivan Show, the Space Race. In the 1950s, the first McDonald’s opened, Disneyland opened in 1955, the regular work week changed from 48 hours at the beginning of this decade to 40 hours per week by 1955. Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states of the USA. And the Oakdale Golf and Country Club opened and the Rotary in Oakdale was started.
For a more complete history, the Oakdale Lions website will soon have this posted and later this summer, the Oakdale Museum will have a special exhibit that honors the Oakdale Lions 75th Anniversary. The Oakdale Lions would also like to thank The Oakdale Leader for allowing us to access their extensive archives and for posting these history excerpts.
Value of funds given to this community and services provided through 1959: Using an inflationary adjustment for funds raised (each year), plus service hours estimated each year, the total value of services provided to the community of Oakdale by the Oakdale Lions is estimated to be just under $2 million as of 1959. This is a conservative estimate, only to show the motto of the Lions – that “We Serve” is our honor and goal for this community and all communities throughout the world.
The Oakdale Lions Club is marking its 75th anniversary this year and, as part of the celebration, Lion Damon Woods is compiling a history of the organization. Look for his articles the first Wednesday of each month in The Leader, as the actual anniversary date approaches.