Local Early American Glass Club celebrates 75th anniversary

From Depression glass to glass yard art to Waterford Crystal, the glass on display at the Early American Glass Club’s 75th anniversary was as unique as the 30 members themselves.

Present for the special event in the club’s history were veteran members Joann Nevens as well as relatively recent ones like Scott Mason.

But regardless of tenure, the members had something in common – the appreciation of glass and finding beauty in all kinds of pieces.

Depression glass is Rhoda Bender’s specialty, and she had a number of the pink colored pieces on display.

Bender started collecting Depression glass after her mother-in-law passed away years ago.

“There were three pink goblets available and no one else wanted them, so I did,” she said. “I started looking for a fourth goblet to match the others and I got hooked from there.”

Bender said the glass was only made in Depression years, hence its name.

Cynthia Mansager, of Melbourne, found glass from several sources and glued them together to make glass yard art.

A vodka bottle and small, medium and large bowls made up one eye-catching piece.

Each display had a story and one of interest was that of Julie Hitchins, of Marshalltown.

Hitchins and her husband, Kevin, had taken separate trips out of state 11 years ago.

They arrived home to celebrate their anniversary May 19 and presented each other with identical Waterford Crystal bowls.

There were family heirlooms too.

LaVonne Hildahl brought an ornate candy dish made in Sweden that was sent as a wedding present to her maternal grandparents in 1917.

When the club was founded in January, 1938, club members studied early American glass at monthly meetings and later broadened the program topics to include objects of art in home furnishings, among others.

The most notable of projects taken on by the club was the collection of states glass initially belonging to Billie Wolfe, an assistant professor at Text Tech’s College of Home Economics in Lubbock, Texas, and a friend of club member Elaine Plett.

The collection represents 49 of 50 states, excluding Montana.

The club made arrangements with the Historical Society of Marshall County to house the collection where it remains today.

Don Short, owner of West End Architectural Salvage Co., in Des Moines, presented a program on his business.

In addition to selling unique pieces salvaged from homes and businesses, West End Architectural Salvage Co. also makes one-of-a-kind furniture and hosts weddings and receptions.

He is host of the HGTV show “West End Salvage.” His mother, Sandy Short, is a club member, and his grandmother, the late Polly Taylor, was a charter member.