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Ripon Grange’s roots go deep in community

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POSTED February 15, 2013 12:58 a.m.

Setting their tables for one more Almond Blossom Festival Breakfast, the Ripon Grange has a long and colorful history dating back to the mid-1930s in the midst of the Great Depression.

The present hall at the corner of Milgeo and Ripona avenues is the exact location where the first almond tree was planted.  A plaque on the wall inside the building attests to that historic fact.

Current President Al Cataeno has the support of his wife Helen who is a walking chamber of commerce resource in the community, knowing just about everyone throughout town.  And many of those friends and acquaintances show up every year for the Grange breakfast that draws over 300 into the old meeting hall.

Organized Feb. 20, of 1933, it was chartered by S.G. Sterns, a state deputy, with a membership of 31 brothers and seven Sisters for a total of 38.  That first regular meeting was held in the Odd Fellows Hall on Feb. 27 with E.E. Welty presiding as master.  He was assisted by Stearns and Howard Clendenan acting as secretary.

By the beginning of 1969, 34 members had received their Silver Star pins and certificates for 25 years of devoted membership to the Grange. The membership had grown to 64 Brothers and 86 Sisters with a total of 150 individuals belonging to the movement.  The average membership at a meeting was only about 35, however.

In the depression era following World War I, irrigation was the focus in San Joaquin County with a move toward a new way of life by expanding the production of farms in the community.

In the seven years ending in 1940 the Grange had already supported and fought for irrigation and drainage systems along with the refinancing of irrigation bonds and the lining of the ditches to carry the water. 

Also on its agenda for change was their support for good schools with adequate buildings.  They saw the public library become a memorial to the servicemen who had made the supreme sacrifice.  Donations for high school band uniforms with the support of good roads and safety signs were also a move by their membership.

FFA judging teams sent to Kansas City National Judging meets were also supported by the Ripon Grange as was 4-H and Scouting leaders.  They lauded the charter member to the Grangers Business Organization in 1935.

Through World War II and beyond the Grange members continued to be a central source of support for the Ripon community including the creation of a Junior Grange in the early ‘60s.

Over the years, more than 650 men and women have been members of the Ripon Grange.  They have continued to be a family organization where the entire family can be involved in community projects.

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