While no one knows the exact date it happened, when the Fruitland Mesa Club was founded sometime in the 1930s, the ranch women living on the agriculturally rich mesa were quite secluded from the rest of the world. They formed the club as a way to overcome that feeling of isolation and provide support to one another.
Today's women are far more mobile, but the club lives on. Today it boasts about 30 members, and some of them are the daughters of some of its founding members, said club treasurer Donna Cochran. The club's original purpose of providing companionship and support when getting out and about was anything but easy has evolved over the years, but members still meet monthly to enjoy food, drink and conversation, make crafts and enjoy each other's company.
Meetings are often held at member homes, and usually carry a theme, said Cochran. For example, a recent theme was soup tasting, and members all brought a different soup to share. Two or three meetings a year are devoted to family, and every February the club invites the community for a potluck meal at Crawford Town Hall. White Elephant Bingo takes up one meeting per year, October is a Halloween theme, and in November the club holds a drawing for a turkey.
The club also hosts a Memorial Day dinner at the Methodist Church following the annual American Legion ceremony at Crawford Cemetery. There was a time when the Maher/Onion Valley and Needle Rock women's clubs took turns hosting the dinner, but now the Fruitland Mesa Club hosts and the other clubs contribute to the effort.
Ingredients for the meal are purchased locally wherever possible, said Cochran.
As it has from its early days, the club also strives to support the community. Money raised throughout the year helps support numerous organizations, including the Crawford Public Library, Volunteer Fire Department and North Fork Ambulance.
The club has plans for 2016, including upgrading the big sign boards on Fruitland Mesa and updating all of the names.
Last weekend the club held its annual Crawford Craft Fair in the community room of the newly-remodeled Crawford Town Hall. The fair coincides with the annual Parade of Lights and Festival of Trees. While the fair has traditionally been held the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, club members are considering moving it to the following week, because people generally have plans for the Thanksgiving weekend, said Cochran.
The Town of Crawford waived the rental fee for the room this year, in part because the club donated money toward the $1 million renovation project. "We really appreciate that," said Cochran.