This reminiscence by Vern Nordstrand (1918-2009) is about a club formed by a few seniors at Ballard High School, located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, in 1937. Vern Nordstrand worked at Boeing for 40 years before retiring, and lives in Seattle.
I graduated from Ballard High School in 1937, and in my senior year a group of about 15 of my good friends got together and decided to form a club. It was based on our friendships during our high school years, and followed three previous Ballard High School Clubs. The Hoot Mirandys were the earliest club we knew of, formed when the high school was still in downtown Ballard. The Nights of the Moon, then the Cardinals followed them.
We needed a name for our club, and phoned the library for some ideas. The librarian suggested the name “Saicoms,” and we all liked the sound of it. We enjoyed it even more when we found out it was a Latin word for rat-tailed monkeys!
We formalized our club with a constitution, a President, Vice President, Secretary and Sergeant at Arms. We paid dues and met once a month. The meetings were initially at one of our folks’ houses, and the Mom of the house made us sandwiches which we ate while we made plans for the upcoming months’ events.
Dances were our favorite activity, and we'd travel together to the dance halls. In the early days we didn't have girlfriends, and it was common for the guys and gals to show up stag at the dances in groups. During high school we started dancing at a local hall on Ballard Avenue. Then we began traveling from North Seattle to Tacoma, at the Eagles Ballroom, Parkers, the Trianon, the Avalon, the Spanish Castle, and Lake Wilderness. We had a regular schedule for different days of the week. Later on, when we had girlfriends, the girls would often make sandwiches for a picnic and we'd spend a summer afternoon swimming, and then go out dancing that evening.
Other times the guys would just get together and play basketball at the church lot. Once a year we'd get together with the other three Ballard High School Clubs, and we'd all have a big Club Luncheon together. We were the youngest group, and I believe the last Ballard High School club of that era.
As time went on, our group changed, but not much -- a couple of our members moved out of the area or died much too young, and five or six new friends were voted in as new members, but no matter what, we always had a good time. Of the original 15 members we had, 12 served in the military, and all returned home. We had quite a diverse group -- several of our group sold oil, food, windows, or office equipment, and two of us graduated from college. We had a fisherman, a professional baseball player, a dentist, two city employees, an optical technician, a painter, a Boeing employee, and a retailer at Penny's.
We married and had kids, and our dancing became less frequent. We got together for different outings and especially our annual Saicoms Christmas Party. We'd all bring our families and presents for Santa Clause to pass out to the children. We had fewer formal meetings, but it was always fun to get together. I have a tape recording of one of our meetings in 1969, which always makes me smile when I listen to it. There's lots of laughter and lots of talk while we're all bantering back and forth about who paid their dues, who still owed 14 cents, who should have sent their wife in their stead, and whatever else we could bring up to banter about. It's a great feeling.
I'm 85 years old now, and Pat, Roger, and myself are the remaining members of the original Saicom Club. We certainly have keen memories of those many fantastic times with our Saicom buddies.
Original Members of the Saicom Club, 1938
- Omar Stenesen
- Vern "Lovey" Nordstrand
- Gene Mason
- Harold "Hunk" Anderson
- Bobby Leander
- Rodney Miller
- Roger Miller
- Sam Middal
- Pat McClain
- Bud Herron
- Russell "Pete" Ahnstrom
- Bob "Gis" Gislason
- Gordon Sundstrom
- Tom Wagner
- Marv Stenholm
Other Members that Joined Us Over the Years
- Bill Sroufe
- Lewis Olson
- Steiner Ekern
- Ted Peterson
- Ben Anderson