Monthly potlucks staple of Wolfe’s Neck Club

People enjoy food and conversation at a recent supper meeting of the Wolfe's Neck Club.

The Wolfe’s Neck Club may no longer make root beer in a large bucket outside the former one-room schoohouse in Freeport, as it once did, but it still holds on to a 75-year-old tradition, its monthly potluck suppers.

Every second Sunday of the month at 6 p.m., old friends and new bring dishes to enjoy, recite the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a prayer song and then share the food along with news of the neighborhood.

Club member Sam Smith said the “neighborhood” consists of Wolfe’s Neck Road residents and those nearby, totaling a road area of about three miles.

The club, open to new membership, has been revitalized as of late by young families with about 10 children among them who have joined, according to Smith’s wife, Kathryn Smith. Generally, about 40 people show up for the suppers.

“We’re hoping to keep this going,” Smith said. “We all care about community.”

Children are not only welcome, they also are active participants.

“One 13-year-old boy gave a pitch for the eggs his chickens were producing, and another 13-year-old guy volunteered to be the club secretary,” said Sam Smith, a member of Wolfe’s Neck Farm board who has been attending the suppers since they started more than seven decades ago. “As a summer resident, at 13, I not only drove a tractor but a six-wheel Army surplus personnel carrier. Being a rural teenager in Maine is different.”

The Wolfe’s Neck Club was established in 1941 at a pre-Civil War schoolhouse last used in the late 1930s. The building had previously also housed the Farm Bureau,  Kathryn Smith said.

“This club was really, really active,” she said. “There were 50 families in 1955. Many, such as John Mann, had forebearers who were original Freeport settlers.”

In the 1950s, the club built an addition to accommodate the suppers, she said.

In addition to the monthly suppers, Wolfe’s Neck Club today holds two joint  supper meetings with the Thomas Means Club, located nearby on Flying Point Road. In February, the two clubs hold a music night at the Means Club, and in June, there’s a picnic at the Wolfe’s Neck Club. The club does not meet in July or August.

Little planning goes into the suppers, Kathryn Smith said. The host of the month gets there early with beverages, decorates the hall and turns on the heat, if needed.

“You just bring whatever,” she said.

Club members Joe and Genie Field attend when they can. Genie Field said that the $30 membership dues help fund the club’s $500 scholarship given to a graduating senior at Freeport High School. The Wolfe’s Neck Club holds a flower sale prior to Mother’s Day at Key Bank to raise the balance, she said.

“We’re meeting new people,” she said. “It’s good camaraderie. It’s good people. We just keep it going.”

Paul Santomenna, club president, said that the club is actively recruiting new members and invite anyone interested in joining the club to attend any of its upcoming potluck dinners that occur on the second Sunday of the month at 6.

Santomenna delved into the club’s early days.

“Back in 1941,” he said, “when Wolfe’s Neck was primarily a farming community, neighbors and friends on the Neck established the club as a gathering place and community center. The historic building that houses the club was originally a one-room schoolhouse and, later, a chapter of the Farm Bureau. The club has been continually active since its founding 75 years ago.”

 Today, with about 50 members from Wolfe’s Neck and surrounding areas, Santomenna said, the Wolfe’s Neck Club continues to be an active social hub, hosting a potluck dinner for members and guests. The suppers are a cherished opportunity for a diverse crowd to gather, from toddlers to retirees, from new residents to families whose histories on the “Neck” go back generations. The club welcomes anyone in the area interested in meeting their neighbors and learning more about the club to attend the potlucks, he said.
“The club does more than act as a gathering place,” Santomenna said. “Members raise funds throughout the year for an annual college scholarship awarded to a graduating senior from Freeport High School. And recently, the club has opened its building to the nearby Coastal Studies for Girls school as a classroom – a fitting return to the building’s original purpose.

The next Wolfe’s Neck Club supper is its Christmas party, on Dec. 10. Santa Claus will be there for the kids.

As for the root beer, Sam Smith recalls seeing the beverage made just once, in the old days.

“It was just for the suppers,” Smith said. “It was in a big, circular metal container, with a hunk of ice.”

People enjoy food and conversation at a recent supper meeting of the Wolfe’s Neck Club.

The Wolfe’s Neck Club in Freeport, established in 1941, is a little more than a mile from Wolfe’s Neck Farm.

James Mann, left, father of John Mann and son of Horace Mann, helps get the old one-room schoolhouse on Wolfe’s Neck Road ready for an event when the building was used by the Farm Bureau. The other two men in the photograph are unidentified.