Page 26 THE VILLADOM TIMES III • May 6, 2009 got three of my colleagues who had well-defined personalities -- the Shy Guy, the Scoundrel, the Control Freak -- to write a few words and a signature, and took these with me. After the graphologist offered his speech, I took him aside and asked for his verdict on the four signatures. “This one indicates a really troubled personality – a walking time bomb,” he said. I folded up my own signature, tucked it back in my pocket, and decided he knew what he was talking about. I next attended a club meeting as a speaker when I was producing my own newspaper in the 1980s. The topics that had made me famous were not those that would have appealed to club’s membership. My first big story was to chronicle the life and times of a heroin addict and to report that smack had made it over the river and was into the woods of Northwest Bergen County. Other featured attractions included a story on outlaw motorcycle gangs, the rise and fall of the American Indian Movement, and a meticulous study of how a Passaic County official had been framed, and later murdered, as a Nazi war criminal when he wasn’t one. I spoke about the sinking of the “Titanic,” which had an anniversary coming up. My talk also sank, but the women were gracious enough not to tell me so. The Ridgewood Woman’s Club has provided a kaleidoscope of excellent programs. More to the point, the Club has provided a number of other activities that went far beyond genteel entertainment. The club’s first project was to fit out a room at Ridgewood High School for the teaching of domestic science. Sewing classes for young girls were offered on Saturday mornings. This service is perhaps underrated. Even before women officially got the vote, the Ridgewood Woman’s Club has championed the right of women to serve on the Ridgewood Board of Education. With voting by women finally legalized by Constitutional amendment in 1920, victory was at hand, and in 1921 Club Member Henrietta Hawes became the first woman member of the board. The club has sponsored a girl from Ridgewood to attend the Girls Career Institute since 1949. In 1959, the group established the Scholarship Trust Fund with a bequest of $1,000. The scholarships are available to either female or male students and last year the scholarships reached a total of $38,000. The club has also sponsored a local Boy Scout troop, helped in the formation of Ridgewood’s Red Cross chapter, and supported Ridgewood Social Services, which provides emergency help for families in need. After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, which hit Ridgewood particularly hard, the Ridgewood Woman’s Club formed the Ridgewood Emergency Relief Foundation to help people stay afloat when their world seemed to be falling apart. During World War II, the club joined churches and other groups to form a War Emergency Committee to help provide housing for refugee children. The club sponsored the Family Counseling Service from its outset, and has provided significant donations both to Valley Hospital in Ridgewood and Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson. The donations to various local groups, not counting the sizable scholarship program, are generally in the vicinity of $60,000, subsidized in part by a house tour that generates funds for the charities and the scholarships. Beyond a doubt, the Ridgewood Woman’s Club does a tremendous amount of good for the entire community, not just for its own membership. There is a lesson to be learned from all this. Scoundrels sometimes succeed for a short time, but people who build successful and prosperous lives generation after generation generally do so because they have their values straight. Once they are okay themselves, they reach out to help others, not as an insurance against possible catastrophes, but because it is the right thing to do. The cultural activities were enjoyable, but the Ridgewood Woman’s Club’s humane activities during the Depression and World War II show the kind of resolution and concern that may help us all get through the present mess. Above all these women raise the money they give away and don’t expect the government or the people who are being crushed with property taxes to come up with it. The Ridgewood Woman’s Club isn’t just a nice building; it’s a beacon showing us how to do the right thing. Here’s hoping for another 100 years of service and compassion from a classy organization. What news is there for us to celebrate? The 100th Anniversary of the Ridgewood Woman’s Club. While I may not add up to Ridgewood Woman’s Club in terms of elegance and general deportment, I have followed the club’s operations for a significant part of the century, and am glad this group is still around. My first contact with the Ridgewood Woman’s Club was in the early 1970s, when I was working for a daily newspaper in the vicinity. Knowing that my wife was Japanese and that I understood a little of that arduous language, the city editor sent me to the Ridgewood Woman’s Club to cover a speech that was being given by the Japanese consul to New York City. The guest of honor arrived in a limousine and made a brief speech. His English was better than my Japanese, but the Japanese admit that the Koreans are the great linguists of Asia. My wife, Countess Obo, was once approached by the father of one of my tutorial students who asked her permission to converse in Japanese after she had given a lecture about her book, “Hachi-Ko, The Samurai Dog.” She nodded her assent and they spoke, rapid-fire, for about two minutes. I understood about two words. “How long did you live in Japan?” my wife asked. “About two years,” the Korean man replied. “You Koreans are really the linguists. Your Japanese is better than my English!” she said laughing. Well, her English was a lot better than the consul’s. The Japanese consul showed a beautifully photographed Technicolor movie called “Japanese Women,” which was just the opposite of what one would expect if one did one’s traveling at the expense of the U.S. Department of Defense. The three women depicted were a grade-school teacher who was in her 20s but looked about 15 and acted that way at recess, a female executive who wore tailored suits and worked 14-hour days, and a mature woman who wore a kimono and lived in a traditional Japanese house with pine trees in the background. Reiko Dan, the leading cute tomboy of Japanese feature films in that era, could always get her female fans to shriek out a shrill “Banzai!” when she shouted, “I’ve never worn a kimono in my life!” It’s sort of a badge of traditionalist whatever. The consul was making the point that most Japanese women were quite respectable if you avoided certain sections of Tokyo by night, and in this he was quite correct. The members of the woman’s club enjoyed the film, and were split over whether they identified with the executive or the elegant mature woman who still wore a kimono. The teacher in the baseball hat and shorts was out of the loop. My next visit to the club came when the city editor discovered that a Jesuit priest who was also an expert in determining character by handwriting – graphoanalysis -- would be speaking. I know something about forensics and parapsychology, where the standards of evidence are absolutely Draconian because mainstream scientists tend to dismiss the topic as a hoax. I prepared a control test: I A century of service and a beacon to everyone Allendale Red hats ready to rumble The Atrium Red Hats, a chapter of the International Red Hat Society, recently attended the Red Hat Rumble luncheon show at The Brownstone in Paterson. The Atrium residents and Senior Social Club members made their own hat creations in classes held at the senior residence.