LIONS CLUBS WERE FOUNDED WITH A SERIOUS PURPOSE: TO SERVE. BUT FUN WAS PART OF THE EQUATION SINCE DAY ONE. AWAY FROM THEIR BOSSES AND WIVES, MEMBERS OF MEN’S CLUBS OFTEN TENDED TO ACT LIKE, WELL, BOYS. Early Lions sang boisterously, told off-color jokes and pranked one another. The fun typically began right from the start— on charter night. In 1921, at the charter ceremony of the Rochester Lions in New York at the Seneca Hotel, two waiters walking down a center aisle crashed into one another, spilling trays of food. Boxing gloves not-so-mysteriously appeared and, to the delight of Lions, the waiters proceeded to duke it out. Tail Twisters, commonplace since the 1920s, formalized the fun. By 1936 the LION had dedicated a page to Tail Twisters, and a Lion wag then summed up Lions’ acceptance of their comic leaders: “The only thing that you can do/Is pay your dime and smile/And hope you’ll see another guy/Get his, too, in a while.” The over-the-top hijinks of earlier days have faded. But some things never change: Lions still have plenty of fun and revel in fellowship while doing good. 1. In 1930, Lions in Tacoma, Washington, welcome Leo the Lion, the “face” of Metro Goldwyn Mayer films. 2. After a $1 ham dinner and singing “Silent Night,” Lions crack up at a joke made at a meeting of an unidentified club in December 1954. 3. This Lions den in 1923 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, is full of frivolity. 4. In 1926, officers of the Salt Lake City Lions Club in Utah are “sentenced” to one year of hard labor of “forwarding the aims” of Lions. 1. The Reno Lions Quartet of Nevada, a top finisher in competitions at Lions conventions, belts out a tune at the convention in Chicago in 1950. Members are (from left) Wes Summerfield, Chet Christenson, Bud Hardesty and Bill Garrett, whose wife is the accompanist. 2. Sure, convention dazzles, but sometimes the best memories come from a meeting of the minds. Three Lions share a moment at the 54th International Convention in Las Vegas in 1971. 3. International President S.A. Dodge of Michigan gamely accepts a lion cub from Jackie Hart of Chicago at the 37th International Convention in 1954 in New York. 4. Nothing like the latest fashions to bond Lions: during a men’s fashion show for an unidentified Lions club in 1951, attorney Ed Dunklee struts in a cashmere sport jacket, garbardine vest and flannels. 5. Clubs often invited sports celebrities to enliven meetings. In 1971, on Gordie Howe Day in Toronto, the hockey great spends his 43rd birthday with his family at the father/son-and-daughter banquet of the Forest Hill Lions Club. 6. Brockton Lions from Massachusetts show their town pride during the parade down Fifth Avenue in New York at the 37th International Convention in 1954. 7. Not averse to attention, Lions in Tacoma sponsor a woman with an unusual outfit in a city parade in 1955. 1. Why raise funds without having a little fun, too? Guest auctioneer Sam Levenson, a comic and TV host, assists Manchester Lions in Vermont in 1959 as Lion Rudy Heiland looks on. 2. Joseph Piccininni of the Toronto Colombo Lions proudly displays the 40 badges on his chest and 19 pins on his hat to Al Schock and his wife at the 47th International Convention in 1964 in Toronto. Schock campaigned vigorously in 30 states and more than 20 countries in 12 months to be the third vice president but lost the election. 3. A miniature train is the gift of Lions near Denver to a recreation center in 1967. On the train are Lion Chet Maddox (from left), an Englewood park official, and Lion Walt Jorgensen. 4. Chicago Lake View Lions promote Candy Day for the Blind in the early 1960s. 5. Indiana Lions arriving at the 41st International Convention in Chicago in 1958 banter about their travel bags.
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