Reflecting On Our Past

"My first National Convention as a Senator was in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1968. Therefore I do not recall from first hand experience what activities, if any, might have been organized for Senators at earlier conventions. However, to my knowledge, there were none. At the 1968 convention in Phoenix, Senators and Old-Timers groups organized a one evening event, a steak fry, at a restaurant out on Camelback Mountain. As I recall we had two bus loads of Senators and wives who took part. The dinner was a 32-ounce T-bone steak and there was plenty of cold beer on the buses to and from this dinner."

"Being a new Senator, I did not know very many other Senators at that time and cannot remember specifically any other Senators who participated in that event. I certainly would be interested in hearing from any of you who do recall that trip." 

"The next time we had any organized Senate activity at a national convention was in 1971 at Portland, Oregon, when past national vice president, David Green, organized a one-day activity for Senators and wives. Again, I believe we had two bus loads. It began in the morning with a visit to a sawmill and a guided tour that was very interesting. We then proceeded to Mt. Hood traveling to the ski lodge. The arrangements included a choice of a trip to the peak by ski lift, or in a snow-cat. It was a lot of fun. I recall one of the Senators from Hawaii who had never seen snow - he was quite amazed by it all. We then continued on to an Indian reservation late in the afternoon and that evening had a fabulous smoked salmon dinner cooked over the open fire by tribe members. We returned late that evening to the convention. Of course, there was adequate liquid refreshments on board the buses for that trip also."

"The next year in 1972, the convention was in Atlanta, Georgia, and that was the historic gathering where the US JCI Senate was organized. I believe there were 20 states in attendance. Some of the states already had State Senates, and it was those Senate groups who organized the meeting in Atlanta. The meeting was at the Marriott Hotel. After a great amount of discussion, agreement was reached to proceed and James O'Connell of Illinois was elected the first president. Leo Briere was elected the first secretary, and Ray Battaglini was elected treasurer. Ralph Sowell was the legal counsel, responsible for putting together the paperwork for incorporation, and work on the Constitution and Bylaws." 

"It was recognized that public relations would be a vitally important function for the fledgling organization, and we could have not found a more selfless and tireless Senator than Mel Routt, of Florida, to take responsibility for that challenge. There were also vice presidents and committees, with all these early pioneers working tirelessly to 'make it go'. It should be recognized that there was literally no budget in those first years, and expenses for supplies, telephone and travel came out of their own pockets. They believed very strongly in the National Senate and worked very hard to make certain it progressed. These men realized that for the Senate to become a reality, communication between members was going to be a most crucial factor. It was in that first year that Mel Routt conceived the idea of our Senate publication, the MENTORS, and of course, that continues today to be the important link for our members to maintain contact."

"My memory is getting too rusty to remember all of those who were actively involved, but I do remember some who were always there: Dick Hiatt, Larry Olson, Bob Lindholm, Chic Lantz, Charlie Schadle, Daryl Watts, to name a few. There were many who worked tirelessly to get State Senate groups going in every state, and to make them a part of the National Senate." 

"In the beginning the purpose of the Senate was to promote and retain friendships, and to provide assistance to the Jaycees in any way possible, including leadership and officer training programs, judging Jaycee competitions, and serving as speakers. From the beginning it was stressed that the Senate would not attempt to impose our will on the Jaycees, but rather to offer our assistance and guidance when asked."

"When the National Senate began, many of the states had only a small number of Senators, not really enough to have active Senate States. A goal of the 'Pioneers' was to assist those states and to try to get all State Senate groups affiliated with the National Senate."

"From the beginning, our annual meetings have been held at the time and site of the National Jaycee Convention. As we have grown in numbers, so have the number of meetings - both business and social. Now the Regions have sufficient numbers of Senators so that numerous business and social functions are held each year in each of the Regions. The bylaws have been amended many times since the original ones were drafted. Dues have increased, and budgets have expanded. Many changes have taken place since that first afternoon at the Atlanta Marriott in June, 1972. Let us not forget the great group of Senators who worked so diligently to start the great organization that we're all so proud of."