By Irving Saperstein

It doesn’t seem so much time has passed, but it was 50 years ago when this short, stocky, man walked into my old store next to the diner. He introduced himself to me and I told him my name as well. His object, he told me, was to get a Lions Club started here in Millerton and to that purpose he invited me to a meeting to be held a few days later at Sharkey’s Restaurant on Route 22. I really didn’t know exactly what a Lions Club was and was curious to learn. That evening arrived and I went to the restaurant along with about 50 other gentlemen. That same man (sorry I can’t remember his name) was at the door of the dining room greeting all those who entered by their first name. I was very impressed. He informed us that the main objective of the organization was eyesight – that of children and adults – along with other things that one is heir to, but that children were of the most importance. We all agreed, and about 30 of us decided on a date for our first Lions Club meeting. At that meeting we elected a President, Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, and a Tail Twister. We also set the dues and discussed the various ways and means of raising money to fund the projects important to us. The school nurse was contacted, and she knew of some children who needed glasses and also a few in need of hearing aids as well. All these children were from poor families, of course, and we raised the money to get them what they needed. Everyone was pleased with the outcome but our greatest pleasure was seeing the smiles on those little faces as they heard our voices clearly for the first time. It’s something I will never forget.

The first summer of our existence arrived and we wanted to do something special for the children, so we arranged with the manager of Rudd Pond State Park for them to go swimming there. We enlisted the help of volunteers, and some members’ wives helped as well. Those who didn’t go swimming went hiking through the state park with volunteers and it was great to see the enjoyment they were having – both the children and adults. That summer quite a few youngsters learned how to swim thanks to that program.

We were off to a good start and somehow kept finding ways to raise money. Oftentimes it wasn’t easy, but we did it. Over a period of time we raised funds for projects including the purchase of an eye testing machine for the school as well as equipment for Sharon Hospital. The Lions Club was also instrumental in the Millerton Denney Pool project – something that is still in use by the community to this day. One fund raiser in particular was a lot of hard work but was well worth the effort. Every couple of years we contacted local home owners and asked if they had any unwanted furniture and/or odds and ends in their cellars, storage rooms, or garages. Most people were happy to oblige, and we hauled those items to the Millerton Inn across the road from the Dutchess Gas Station. There was quite a bit of room behind the Inn to store the merchandise, and with the help of the members and a volunteer auctioneer, we made money to fund our projects. Our wives even set up a stand where they sold sandwiches, soda, and the like.

I don’t want to mention too many names, but one man was very important to the organization. He worked long, hard hours for the club and for the children – he loved them. Cliff Andrews was the “spark plug” that we all needed. Martin Lewis, a local attorney, was also a very valuable asset to our club. He performed an outstanding job as Secretary/Treasurer for over 6 years – taking care of all funds raised as well as dues and money from the tail twister. He was the perfect man for a not‐so‐easy job. Sadly, neither Cliff nor Marty are still with us today, and they are sorely missed.

We always had great times at our business and dinner meetings, which were usually held at Sharkey’s Restaurant. We even had an annual dinner dance complete with a “live” orchestra, at which the members and their wives or girlfriends spent a most enjoyable evening. In the summer Sharkey would host a clam bake for the Lions members and their families at the Millerton Gun Club, and on the 4th of July we enjoyed a family picnic there. When the sun went down Judd Silvernail shot off beautiful fireworks for all to see and admire. The Lions Club started celebrating Halloween by inviting local children to meet at the old Fire House (now the Village office) and parade through the town in their costumes to the school where the official judging took place. Dozens and dozens came out that evening to enjoy the festivities. Many won prizes for their costumes and each and every child went home with a gift.

The Millerton Lions Club has assisted our surrounding towns in starting their own Lions Club over the years – including Pine Plains, Amenia, and Hillsdale. I believe they are all still active today. Now, without mentioning any names, we have a good active club, in this era with lots of organizations “going out of business” we are active and strong. And, above all we will be active for many years to come.

- Irving Saperstein


On Friday, May 28, 1999, the Millerton Lions Club sadly lost its last living chartered member Irving Saperstein. Irving was a generous man, a 53-year resident of Millerton and founded Saperstein’s Department Store in 1946. He was a past President of the Millerton Lions Club, a member for over fifty years and committed to helping and supporting his community.
At the Club’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, Irving wrote about his experiences in the above article, entitled “Memories”. We are so fortunate and grateful to Irving for taking the time to record his memories for others to enjoy. These memories will forever be a part of our history.

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