Summer is the season of Lions.
Let me explain.
My father was a dedicated member of the Lower Lehigh Lions and summer, in my memory at least, was the season when the Lions' calendar got in full swing. Bookended by flea market and garage sales in May and September, the summer calendar included my dad's shifts at breakfasts at Macungie Memorial Park and stints at Wheels of Time and Das Awkscht Fescht.
Our home phone number was among those listed to "make reservations or for more information" for various events.
I distinctly remember the onslaught of calls the year a soaking rain washed out the original Saturday date for a May flea market and a new phone greeting stating the raindate needed to be recorded, a duty for which I had the dubious honor because my dad was down at the park helping survey the water situation.
In the end, the flea market was held on its raindate.
We have photos of Lions events, again in the summer, with my mom pinning a Lions-related pin to my dad's lapel, and of my dad and his fellow members sitting on a porch of a cabin the Lions built at a summer camp for children.
What I did not realize, at the time, was the global scope of a service organization that seemed, for all intents and purposes, to emanate from the Macungie Fire Company.
In his book, "Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community," researcher Robert D. Putnam points to the Lions as an example of social capital, modeling both private and public good at the same time.
In other words, Lions Clubs International, and other groups in that vein, help a cause while helping club members.
Lasting friendships are formed.
Richard Danner of Wescosville, a longtime Lion, recalled he and my dad joined the Lower Lehigh Lions Club the same night.
"We went in at the same time and were friends ever since," Danner said by telephone when contacted for this editorial.
The date of the ceremony, however, is lost to time in Danner's memory.
"It's something you don't keep track of," Danner said, either describing the start of his time in the club and/or the start of a friendship.
It is hard to tell.
Putnam noted the turn of the 19th into the 20th century and the 20th into the 21st look very much alike in the social and political issues faced.
A recovering economy, technological innovations and media distractions, brewing international conflicts and other issues kept Americans in a spiral of anxiety.
That anxiety, however, was tempered by civic and service participation in the early 20th century.
Service and civic groups cropped up to address societal ills.
From the Shriners, founded in 1872, to the Sierra Club, founded in 1892, to the NAACP, founded in 1909, to the League of Women Voters, founded in 1920, to name but a few, America's citizens took it upon themselves to address various facets of American society found lacking.
The Lions Club, by the way, was founded in 1919. The Lower Lehigh Lions celebrated its 50th anniversary as a club in 2011.
By the late 20th century, however, membership in such clubs and groups saw marked decline.
Putnam cautions, however, the American love affair with social work may not be over, just cooled. It can be rekindled, if commitments are made, renewed and kept.
In the meantime, while we sort out how and whom we can help, we can thank those who commit time and energy to their service or civic organization of choice.
So, thanks Dad, Richard Danner, Marvin Shoch, Donald Mumbauer and the Lower Lehigh Lions, for all your work, especially in the summer.
East Penn Press