The Korean War was firmly in the nation’s rear view mirror. It was a time of prosperity. The yearly inflation rate was just 1.52%. Gas was 22 cents a gallon. The average price of a car was $2,050. “As the World Turns” and “The Price Is Right” were on the TV. Disposable diapers and Teflon non-stick frying pans were new on store shelves. And Elvis Presley appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, then climbed the charts for the first time with “Heartbreak Hotel.”
And of much more lasting significance, at least to the Brighton, New York, community, on September 4th, 22 Charter members were inducted into Brighton Rotary Club, under the sponsorship of the Pittsford Club. The Charter Night celebration that evening was held at the Powers Hotel.The first Club meetings were held at the Maplewood Inn, with the Club moving later that year to larger quarters at the Brighton Bowl. Cyril Tucker, who had served as Provisional Club President, designed the Club Flag for exchange with other Clubs around the world. Programs in the first year concentrated on Rotary information so that members could gain a full appreciation and true understanding of all Rotary programs. In its second year, the Club joined the other suburban Monroe County Clubs in founding Camp Haccamo for handicapped children.
Over the years, Brighton Rotary has been an extremely active and vital Club, and several milestones are worth noting.
The first issue of the Club Bulletin, the “Brighton Rotarian,” was published in 1958, edited by Bill Safron. That same year, the Club planted trees at the Twelve Corners and East Avenue/Clover triangles, which were then decorated by lights during the holiday season. The first Club Dance was held at the University Club, and the first Pancake Day was held to raise funds for Club programs, with Milt Matthews as chairman.
In 1959, the first Children’s party was held at the Brighton Bowl, and member Jim Clark entertained 50 handicapped children, with Club members, at his farm. The first Gas Day was held at Jeff’s Texaco station, with the “Gas Day” picture published in the Brighton Rotarian.
In 1966, the Club sponsored the new Irondequcit Rotary Club, under the direction of Governor’s Representative, Milt Matthews. That year also saw the first International Tea, for foreign students from 15 countries attending area colleges, held at the home of John Kendall. And the Camp Haccamo pool was dedicated in the memory of Dave Bayer.
In 1970, Past President, Milt Matthews was elected District Governor for the 1971-72 Rotary year at the International convention in Sydney Australia. In 1972, the “Bridge” was built at Camp Haccamo by Club members to house the gas-powered miniature train. It’s was only covered bridge alongside a stream rather than over it!
In 1979, Ladies Night was held with the original founders of Rotary, Paul Harris, Gus Lochr, Sylvester Schiele and Hiram Shorey being impersonated by Club members dressed in 1905 costumes. They were inducted that night into the Club— as the founders of Rotary, they had never been inducted.
In 1982, the Club donated $2,920 to build fireplaces in the new lodge at Brighton Park, as a 25th anniversary gift to the Town of Brighton.
Over the years, the Club has supported everything from Little League to Pop Warner football, the Easter Seals, Special Olympics and Brighton High School Youth Service.
In 1993, Milt Matthews was honored for the 25th anniversary of the Governor Nominee Hospitality Program that he established in 1970.
In 1999, Chuck Turner became District Governor, bringing the District Conference home to Rochester for the first time in many years.
In 2005, the Club undertook its most ambitious project ever, partnering with the Town of Brighton and New York State to rehabilitate and preserve the historic Buckland House, one of only three surviving brick residences built and occupied by the Buckland family, a family virtually synonymous with “Brighton Brick” and brick manufacturing for over a century. Of the $400,000 total cost, the Club committed to raising an ambitious $100,000, and did! Today, the house is open, by appointment, to the public at no charge.