A local community organization celebrated its birthday two weeks ago when members held their monthly meeting.
The Princeton Noino Study Club — which cleverly holds onion spelled backward in its name — turned 80 Thursday, Sept. 8, after its founding in 1943.
The club was founded by Wilma Jo Bush and a group of women who met together in Princeton during World War II. Bush’s husband was deployed to fight Germany to serve his country similar to the husbands of the women gathering for dinner.
Previously, a railroad ran through the town carrying Collin County’s famous onion crop over to Farmersville where they were unloaded to sell. However, a letter preserved by the club indicates that the railroad ceased operations in the 1930s.
The tracks ran through the area near the current historic downtown of Princeton, including on land that is now occupied by Veterans Memorial Park. The tracks were torn up in either 1942 or 1943, the letter said, and became a dumping ground for local merchants.
Seeing an opportunity to act and beautify their community, Bush convinced her father, Ed West, to purchase the former location of the railroad along a strip known as the “row,” according to the letter. West purchased the “row” which included the area from Fire Station No.1 to US 380.
Because it was not customary for women to hold property deeds in their name at the time of the purchase, the land was transferred to the city with the condition that it be used to create a park. Despite not owning the land, the Noino Club was able to raise money to build the park; however, it needed a labor force to construct it.
One of the women in the club was married to the commandant of the local Prisoner of War (POW) Camp that is now the location of J.M. Caldwell Sr. Community Park. After talking with her husband, he agreed to allow the POWs to construct the park, the letter said.
At the newly constructed park, the Noino Club erected a marble monument depicting an eagle that visitors can still see.
Although the club no longer constructs parks, it still remains active in the community, funding scholarships for local high school seniors by hosting an annual bingo night.
Wilma Liggett, the club’s historian, said the goal is to “provide friendship and greater civic pride for the betterment of our town and country.”
The Noino Study Club has official club colors of green and white and has a club flower, the daisy.
This year, the club raised $3,600 which it distributed to three students in $1,200 increments, Liggett said.
Membership is capped at 35 members and interested individuals can apply through the club’s membership committee. Dues are $3.50 annually or $2 for members joining after Jan. 1 of a calendar year.
The Noino Study Club meets monthly at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month.
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