Honoring the Utsalady Ladies of Camano Island!Posted: June 22, 2011
What’s An Utsalady Lady, you ask?
An Utsalady lady may sound like something along-side “Dr. Seuss Cooked the Goose” (or would that be gander…) but here on Camano Island, there’s a deeper, heart-felt meaning.
In the area of the island known as Utsalady, stands a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1999 (check out our historical society’s site for more local historical places. This is the Utsalady Ladies Aid building, and it has housed the Utsalady Ladies Relief Club since 1923.
The Utsalady Ladies Relief Club was founded in 1908. It originally met in the home of one of its members, Mrs. H. P. Olsen. The seven founding members were part of the island’s Scandinavian community, and were primarily concerned with the religious education of the youth of Camano Island. The ladies set about raising money for a parochial summer school to provide a non-denominational Christian education for the local youth.
In addition to the summer school, the Utsalady ladies had fundraisers for the Washington Children’s Home, and later, a building designated specifically for their use. The money was primarily raised through lutefisk dinners and ice cream socials. The Utsalady Ladies Aid building was completed in 1923 and the group moved its activities there. It was called a building rather than a hall on the order of the Relief Club, as there was to be no drinking, no dancing, and no gambling on the premises.
The Utsalady ladies have been a staple of Camano Island life since their inception. The building has hosted events as varied as funerals and 4-H meetings. The ladies themselves have remained active members of the Utsalady community, providing assistance to the community through scholarships to local girls and donations to the food bank. In World War II, the Relief Club acted as aircraft spotters and turned their building into a Red Cross first aid station and sewing center.
Another website honoring the Utsalady ladies is the Washington Women’s History Consortium.
Today, the Utsalady ladies – including some descendents of those first seven members – enjoy the place in the community founded by over 100 years of active service. Every summer, a picnic is held on the Utsalady Ladies Building grounds, and their contributions to Camano Island life can never be repaid.
Thank you ladies, Camano Island is a better place because of you!