Maine member releases easy-to-read book ‘Exploring Traditions’ of the Grange

Reprinted from the September 2018 issue of The Patrons Chain–The Official Newsletter of the National Grange


Walter Boomsma, Program Director of Valley Grange and Maine State Grange Communications Director has authored the book, “Exploring Traditions–Celebrating the Grange Way of Life.”

While this is not his first book, Boomsma believes it may be one of his most important.

“The primary goal in writing it was to encourage exploration,” Boomsma said. “The Grange is a 150-year-old organization with a strong agricultural focus and many are questioning its relevance to today’s society. I wanted to encourage people to develop a deeper understanding of what the Grange is all about–including our members. The Grange is very much about a way of life and, while farming has changed, people have not.”

Boomsma said he also believes people who are not familiar with the Grange will appreciate exploring the value of tradition in general since “tradition and ritual create stability and a sense of community, especially when we understand the basis for them.”

Betty Van Dyke accepts the “very first copy” of Exploring Traditions from Walter Boomsma, the author.

National Grange Master Betsy Huber provided a foreward to the book, in which she wrote, “These essays by Walter Boomsma unpack the teachings of the Grange and relate them to today’s world
and our everyday lives. He has a gift for taking the lessons from the farm and showing their relevance today, even for those whose only interaction with agriculture happens through their food and clothing choices. He understands the meaning the Grange Founders intended and interprets the sometimes archaic language to reveal the principles they wanted to teach to farm families who often had no other opportunity for education.“

Boomsma dedicated the book to a woman he affectionately calls a “Granger Extraordinaire,” Betty Van Dyke of Guilford. During a presentation of the first copy of the book, Boomsma said Van
Dyke explained the great influence she had during his “formative years” as a Grange member.

“I came to appreciate both her knowledge of the Grange’s teachings and her commitment to what I later came to understand as ‘the Grange Way of Life.’”

At the height of her Grange career, Van Dyke held a number of local and state positions, including serving as the Maine State Community Service Director. At 94, Van Dyke still keeps track of what’s going on at Valley Grange and is a strong supporter.

Boomsma will sign copies of the book at the 152nd Annual Convention where it will be available for sale. It is also available through the Grange Supply Store. Contact Loretta Washington at sales@nationalgrange.org or by phone at (202) 628-3507 ext. 109.

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Tell Us ‘Bout the Good Ole Days!

Judy tells us 'bout the good ole days!

It was a night to remember and a night for remembering as CWA Chair Judy Ricker shared music, facts and photos from the past. Thanks to photographer Roger Ricker we had a “virtual tour” of the Maine State Museum with many members offering color commentary… including Laura Pratt who admitted she remembered using a number of items pictured.  We also learned the derivation of a number of current sayings and found ourselves longing for some of the prices from days gone by… when Judy mentioned that mens’ dress shirts were only seventy nine cents in 1940, Laura noted that was the year she and Vance were married. So now we know what they paid for his shirt!

Our opening song (in two or three part harmony at times) was “You Are My Sunshine…” with the notation that “you” are about the only sunshine we have had for a while!

We also made some rousing plans for participating in the Guilford River Festival this year. Stay tuned (well, come back again) for more information about that… We’ve got lots of events coming up:

June 3rd many of our bookworms will be helping out with Arts Alive at PCES.

June 7th we’ll be having a joint meeting with Parkman Grange.

June 17th we have our regular monthly meeting.

June 18th is our Wicked Huge Yard Sale.

Don’t forget we can always use extra hands… if you can spare a few minutes to help out we need bakers for several of these events, helpers at our yard sale… chat with a granger and see what the opportunities are… or just send an email!