McMinnville Evening Exchange celebrated 90 years of service to the community this past week, becoming one of the oldest Exchange clubs in Tennessee.
“Just think about the impact you’ve had on your community during the past 90 years,” said district president Wayne Tucker, who spoke during the anniversary banquet at McMinnville Country Club. “You’ve done countless projects to help make your community a better place to live while helping with the national mission of Exchange – the prevention of child abuse. You also formed the Noon Exchange Club here, which is also serving the community. Without you, the noon club may have never been formed.”
Evening Exchange was chartered on Jan. 19, 1926, making it one of the oldest in the Tennessee District, which also includes parts of Kentucky and Arkansas. The National Exchange Club began in 1911 with the all-male Detroit Boosters Club – a club that is still in existence.
“Businessmen would get together and exchange idea so that’s why they decided to call it the Exchange Club,” said former national Exchange president and longtime evening member Ken Roberts, noting that for many years Exchange, like most other civic clubs, remained all male. “I’m proud to say Exchange was the first national club to voluntarily allow women members without being forced to do so by court order. And, may I say, it was the smartest thing we’ve ever done.”
The first female member of the local Exchange Club, Sally Brock, was in attendance. She also has the distinction of being the first female president of the Evening Exchange and is presently president-elect.
“We were really nervous when we first decided to invite female members because back years ago several of us would adjourn to play poker downstairs,” Roberts laughed, pointing out Exchange has met at the Country Club for many years. “In 1982, the Country Club here burned to the ground. All of our banners and our bell were in the ashes.”
Roberts said he retrieved the insignia that was once on the top of the club bell from the ashes and it now sits atop a small pedestal.
As for the future of exchange, Roberts said things are bright as both local clubs continue to stay busy with community service. He encouraged members to share the message of Exchange with others.
“Years ago, Lester Cowell invited me to attend a meeting,” Roberts recalled. “I’m sure he had no idea he was inviting a future national Exchange president. The person you invite could also be a future president.”