History of The Last Man’s Club
Way back in the year of the Great Market Crash, 1929, several live-wire members of the George A. Aldinger Post No. 183, American Legion, in Hampton, seeing the membership depressing with the depression, organized a Drum and Bugle Corps to liven things up.
Of course nobody could beat a drum rhythmically or toot a bugle tunefully, none that is except Howard Betts, who was an accomplished cornetist. He became the instructor of thirty-five would-be drummers and buglers.
By August 1931, the corps made its first parade appearance at the State Convention in Davenport, Iowa. The guys were good!
Later Josef Uzel, Lee R. Ewing, and Dr. Ray F. DeSart were of great help to the corps, serving either as band leaders or drillmasters. However, Mr. Uzel was killed in an automobile wreck in 1932, Mr. Ewing died of a heart attack in 1934, and Dr. DeSart died in May 1935. Without these spark plugs, interest among the Drum and Bugle Corps members began to wane.
But the boys were resolved to preserve the spirit of the corps if not the music making ability. So a Last Man’s Club was organized at a meeting held on December 4th, 1935, and the members of the old, now dissolved Drum and Bugle Corps, became members of the new club. DeSart, Ewing and Uzel were listed as honorary members.
The stated object of The Last Man’s Club:
“To Bind into one unit of comradeship those members of the George A. Aldinger Post No. 183, American Legion, who during a time of depression among the membership of the Post, gave of their time and finances to promote interest in the American Legion and services to the community of Hampton by membership in the Drum and Bugle Corps.”
The Last Man’s Club takes in no new members. It meets once each year. Any member not present at an annual meeting must be represented by a letter of regrets or an obituary.
Most of the fellows, sixteen years after the group was organized, were present at the 1951 get-together a few weeks ago at the American Legion Club House. One, Fred Bierien, who has lived in Austin, Minnesota, ever since the first organizational session returns to Hampton for every meeting.
At the first annual meeting, the men brought various items, all autographed them, and they were sealed in a “Treasure Chest” constructed by Last Man C. W. Nolte. The Chest also contains a bottle of whiskey and an interest-bearing bond.
According to the Club’s Constitution, the Chest and its contents will go to the last surviving member. He will break the seal, open the “Treasure Chest”, read the words of hands no longer living, and make whatever use of the various contents he sees fit. No one shall say him nay, for he will be the Last Man.
One of the finest relics the Last Man will inherit is a large record book, which was beautifully maintained by C.L. Bredt up until his death. It contains not only the Club’s Constitution and minutes of all the meetings, but also many photographs, histories of each member, clipping, old menus, place cards, and other memorabilia to make it a real treasure. Harry W. Jorgensen is now keeper of the book.
In 1951 the men’s present ages range from fifty-three to sixty-four. Besides the three honorary members, six others are dead now, one man of every six in the original group.
J.W. Brewster, born in Iowa Falls, Iowa, 1896, died 1939.
Ralph F. Haecker, born in Hampton, 1890, died 1946.
Nels T. Malm, born in Chicago, 1889, died 1947.
Ivy L. Brewster, born in Iowa Falls, 1894, died 1948.
Wayne C. Artley, born in Hampton, 1899, died 1950.
C.L. Bredt, born in DeKalb, Illinois, 1896, died 1951.
Morbid? No, you couldn’t be more wrong. If you could attend one of the Annual Meetings of The Last Man’s Club, you would see as much good fellowship and cheer as you would ever see at any kind of club meeting anywhere.
It’s the spirit of the old Drum and Bugle Corps perhaps, that will keep the members forever young…. Down to the Last Man!
George A. Aldinger Post No. 183 Inc. Hampton, IA
American Legion Members 1953
Row 1 - Harry Collins, John Murphy, Leslie Stauffer, Harry Jorgensen, ??, Robert Murphy, ??, Judson Wheeler
Row 2 - Claude Jackson, ??, Herbert Beckman, Ralph Stuart, Dr. Harold Wright, ??, Charles Nolte
Back Row - ??, Lee Lemke, Col Butler, Glen Bara, ??, Charles Davis, Charles Jackson
George A. Aldinger Post No. 183 Inc. Hampton, IA
45 Year American Legion Members 1967
Row 1 - Lee M. Lemke, Harry W. Jorgensen, Claude Jackson, Ralph R. Stuart, F.C. "Chuck' Davis, Charles "Squire" Jackson, Leslie S. Stauffer
Row 2 - Jake Rutt, Charles W. Nolte, Raymond Stayner, Hugo V. Walser, Dick Diekmann, Albin Anderson, Albin J. Johnson, Howard C. Shafer
Back Row - Ralph P. Humphreys, Fred J. Paullus, Francis Hanig, Charles A. Williams, Quay J. Beringer, Harold C. Argent, John E. Murphy
If you have more information on the "Last Man Standing" group please contact the Franklin County Historical Museum at 641-456-5777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org