BY LAURENT D'ENTREMONT
For the last 30 years or so, we have been meeting as the Bologna Club only once a year, always a few days after Christmas and just before the New Year.
This year was exciting. We met on an island near shore, one that was accessible only at low tide, where our club president Wendell d’Eon has a small chalet. Sadly, this year our senior member and co-founder could not be there because of health issues, and after a tabulation of birth dates, it fell on my shoulders to perform some of the tea brewing rituals at the event as I was the senior member – by only a few months...I may add.
The Bologna Club was formed with 12 members, the same number as the Apostles of biblical days. We have not caught up with the metric system yet. This is the one thing that the Bologna Club stands firm about, there will only be 12 members, not one more, no matter what. We all agreed on this rule and at one time two prominent community leaders – pillars of society, you might say – wanted to join the exclusive club, raising the membership, but were turned down. (They may forgive us someday, if they live long enough.)
Of the members of the club one is an out-of-province member from New Brunswick, and one member originally from West Pubnico, now makes his home in Spain. This makes the world’s first Bologna club an international organization.
The club has no dues, no minutes, no bylaws, in-laws or outlaws. Except for one day, our president Wendell d'Eon has very little to do, and he does it very well. The job is his for life.
One year a well-known food-processing firm from the Annapolis Valley, one that supplied our co-op store, heard about the club and donated one of their choice bologna for the mid-winter gathering. The president very graciously sent them a thank you note to show our appreciation.
Most of the club’s members are now well seasoned and well passed the mid-century-plus mark; some are now senior citizen and collectors of Old Age Pension. On “Bologna Club day” a good size fire is made with very dry wood, and when the ambers of the campfire are aglow, bologna is cooked and bread toasted (and in the New Year) on the hot coals. There is always a small bottle of black “vitalizer” to add a bit of good cheer, taken in moderation and in good “spirit” of course.
The members are from all walks of life, and as all can remember the better parts of 50 or 60 years or more, they yarn, reminisce and argue about a coastal fishing village of their youth that no longer exist. All talks are peppered with humor, especially when the “vitalizer” kicks in. Club members also talk about an earlier time when the Acadians and others (there was no English or French way of surviving) lived off the land and the world was at peace. For two hours a year members are young once again, it takes us back as we reverse the clock and relive those carefree and quiet days of long, long ago.
So far no women have shown any interest in the club, perhaps the cooking and eating habits are not up to par. Many times we have invited guests who seem to feel at home and enjoy our company and black tea; it is seldom that all members can attend the yearly event. The members represent many occupations. We have school teachers, fishermen, carpenters, business consultant, school guidance counselor, folk singer, boat shop worker, golf course attendant, and one writer and storyteller.
The Bologna Club is well promoted with its own caps, club logo – which is a campfire with tea brewing in an old tin can – and we have membership certificates. The club is mostly inactive for every day of the year except one. And this is what the club stands for and the reason why it exist: Good friends, good cheer, good conversation and, not to forget, good bologna.