By Barbara Whitaker-Shimko
After 16 years in exile, the Swarthmore Rotary Club returned to Swarthmore on September 1. The new home for Rotary and its weekly Thursday luncheon meetings is the Gathering Room of the Inn at Swarthmore, 10 S. Chester Road.
The club was founded in Swarthmore in 1937, and met for many years at the former Ingleneuk Restaurant at 120 Park Avenue. The owners of the Ingleneuk enlarged a room in the back of the restaurant and called it the “Rotary Room” to accommodate Rotary’s weekly meetings at noon.
Longtime members of the Club, including Ed Jones and John Kaufman, recently reminisced about the “good old days” at the Ingleneuk when Rotary members ordered off a menu (unlike the current buffet) and were served by a number of wait staff. In particular, mention was made of the “chicken livers a la Bernard,” named after the longtime chef at the Ingleneuk and a great favorite of the Rotarians. The Ingleneuk was widely famous for their melt-in-your-mouth sticky buns. Vintage Rotarians recall that the atmosphere of the Club was much more formal. For instance, suits and ties were the universal attire — 21st century casual is quite a contrast.
The Ingleneuk suffered a major fire in March of 2000, leaving Swarthmore Rotary Club (SRC) without a meeting place. After the fire, Swarthmore Rotary found a new home at the Springhaven Country Club in Wallingford. Like many exiles, Club members’ dreams of returning to Swarthmore were thwarted until plans for the Swarthmore College inn became big news in town. When the Inn finally opened for business, Rotary immediately made plans to return. Current SRC president, Lisa Lee teamed up with Immediate past president, Joe Lesniak, and president-elect Joy Charlton to make arrangements with the Inn at Swarthmore College. They were able to secure the best room at the Inn — that is — the one with all the windows.
Swarthmore Rotarians find it too early to compare the food at all three locations. Only a few questions were overheard: “Where are the sticky buns? Why all the polenta?” Mostly one heard choruses of “It’s great to be home! Great to be able to walk or bike to meetings! So glad to be part of the town again!” Some new faces have been seen at meetings at the Inn on Thursdays at noon, seeking membership because of the convenience from their workplaces.
No matter where SRC holds its meetings, Rotary service projects in Swarthmore, Chester, Guatemala and India are the basis for the Club’s existence. The local Rotary also has been part of Rotary International’s effort to eradicate polio from the planet.