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Who Was Elwood Allen?

August 1, 2016

Sometimes I get myself in trouble because I am too darn curious, but it is so much fun looking into things that I'll probably never stop. At one of our meetings I was day-dreaming while one of our Presidents was expounding about something. " Hmmmm…" I said to myself, "I wonder how that Rotary Emblem came to be?"

Of course now-a-days, if you have a question, the first place you go is to the internet. Lo and behold there is a site which gave the complete history of our Rotary Emblem. The website explained how the emblem evolved from being a wagon wheel to an industrial gear or driving force. The author concluded; "After they complained the wheel was mechanically unsound, two engineers redesigned it. Within a couple of years, it was noted that the wheel had no keyway (notched hole in the middle) and, without it, the gear was not capable of transmitting power to, or from, the shaft" The Rotary Wheel has remained the same ever since.

Though the Rotary Emblem appears around the World in its precise design, the meetings vary widely. If you are a newer member and have not been a ‘visiting Rotarian' yet you will find this to be true. Each Club has their own rules, format, and traditions.

I dare say that if you visit any other Rotary Club in the World you will not hear "Happy Birthday" sung as melodiously as it is at the Bennington Club. You may not hear it sung at all!

Shep Jones told me the story of how singing this tune, to an honored member, became a tradition in our Club.

It seems that there was once a member of ours named Elwood Allen who had the opportunity to visit a Rotary Club in Italy. At that Club all the Italian members got together at their meeting and sang beautiful operatic arias. When Elwood got back home he thought he would try to get the Bennington Rotary Club to become a ‘singing club'. His proposal to get all the guys to sing met a cool reception.

A week or so after Mr. Allen made his pitch his birthday came up. To make him happy the club decided to give their version of the traditional song. You can thank Elwood Allen for this time honored tradition of the Bennington Rotary Club.

Author: Sally Sugarman (Club Member & Windmill Editor)

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