In the days after World War II, entertainment and socializing with friends and neighbors was quite different from today. TV was in its infancy and travel was not as likely, especially in a farming community like Blawenburg. Movies took place in theaters and listening to the radio and reading newspapers were still important ways to get news. There were no computers, social media, or other ways to connect with the world easily. In short, you had to create your own entertainment, and that was often with other people...live… in person!
In the village of Blawenburg, some social events were held at Blawenburg Church, while others, such as card parties, were held in private homes in the community. John and Martha Van Zandt, who now live in North Carolina, remember their house on the corner of Route 518 and Hollow Road that they bought from Cassie Stryker in 1946. The second floor of their barn had a nice dance floor, and the Van Zandts invited couples there for square dancing, foreshadowing the events of the Blawenburg Couples Club. Bernice Crawford Van Nostrand remembers going to a dance in the Van Zandt barn when she was in high school.
Couples Club Formed
The Blawenburg Couples Club was established as an informal organization in the early 1950s to provide social events for the community. It quickly became a popular event that took place periodically throughout the year, bringing together local residents for an evening of food and entertainment. While many events were held at Blawenburg Church, the club was open to anyone and was a separate organization from the church.
Club events usually took place on Saturday nights, with each event having a different theme. One month there might be a square dance in the Woodacres barn, located where the Cherry Valley homes are today. The original Woodacres house and barn still stand on this property just off Great Road near Bedens Brook on land once owned by Frederick Blaw.
At other times, the club members traveled to a local theater and sometimes returned to a club member’s home for dessert. Early in the club's life, members attended plays at McCarter Theater in Princeton. In later years, they went to the Off Broad Street Theater in Hopewell, where they had dessert followed by a play presented by local actors.
Jane May remembers going to a winery near the Delaware River in the 1970s. She also recalls a scavenger hunt that had members driving all over Montgomery Township.
Ginny Doremus recalls one event where things got political. 3M had applied for a permit to develop a quarry on Route 13 (now Route 601). It was controversial because of the feared environmental damage the quarry operation might cause. A debate about whether the permit should be approved began, and it consumed the meeting. The matter was ultimately resolved in the courts in favor of 3M. Today, the quarry still operates as Gibraltar Rock of Belle Mead.
The Couples Club generally held four events per year–a fall event to welcome new members, a Christmas social, a theater event, and a food event such as dining in a restaurant or eating a meal at the church.
Blawenburg Couples Club dinner at Lavender Hall in Bucks County, PA, 1950s