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Northern Ohio Latino Clubs share rich history

 

By La Prensa Staff

 

Feb. 1, 2019: A review of the records on file with Ohio’s Secretary of State reveal that the two oldest Mexican-American social clubs in Ohio are: Latins United and Mexican Mutual Society.

 

Latins United in Toledo is enjoying a renaissance with increasing membership; its S. St. Clair St. bar and clubhouse is a hub of activity these days; and its rich history traces back further than the 50th anniversary the group celebrated three years ago.

 

Documents filed with the Ohio Secretary of State, including the articles of incorporation establishing the “Organization of Latins United,” as it was officially known, trace its founding to Jan. 19, 1961 in Wauseon, Ohio. The revelation caught the Latins United president by surprise.

Charlie and Lucy Weaver

 

“It shocked me to know we’re celebrating that many years of being here [58 years rather than 53 years],” said club president Usevio “Chevo” Torres. “We’re keeping it going strong and people are just finding out about our organization. That’s awesome to know people want to come on board at Latins United and keep it moving forward.”

 

The three original Fulton County founders were Juan Martínez, Frank Ramos, and Marcelino Correa, all of whom lived along Route 1 near Wauseon, near where the group’s original clubhouse was to be located. Jesús Rodríguez also signed the documents as the filing agent.

 

The organization’s original purposes were several, including “to foster and improve the social conditions of its members and to protect its members in their enjoyment of life in these United States.” But Latins United also was formed “to engage in civic, welfare, educational, political, and other like activities which further the interests and welfare of its members.”

 

Now boasting 340 members, including about 100 discounted seniors, “Latins United has sought to return to that original mission of serving the community,” said Torres.  “We will continue to be a part of the community,” Torres vowed. “They’re our neighbors. They take care of us, so we take care of them.”

 

Torres cited a number of partnerships, especially formed in the last year or so with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee [FLOC], El Corazón de México Ballet Folklorico, and others. The club recently donated $1,000 to the dance troupe’s recent trip and performance at Disney and helped raise another $3,000 during a festival held in mid-September.
 

Latins United also donated $1,000 last year to Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Parish for its annual August fundraising festival to help offset the cost of securing entertainment. The club also awarded six $500 college scholarships to Latino students in 2018.

 

The paperwork filed with the Ohio Secretary of State also shows a Toledo chapter had formed at its present location in 1966, about the same time the “organization in Wauseon disbanded.”  Those documents are signed in 1997 by then-president Lucy Weaver and then-secretary Concepción (Connie) Eason, who also spoke on the nonprofit organization’s history at Latins United 50th anniversary gala. [Lucy passed away in 2009; she and her husband Charlie Weaver were instrumental with the club’s success for decades. Charlie passed away in 2012. Both Connie and Charlie were from the Brownsville, Texas area but moved to Toledo decades ago.]


Usevio “Chevo” Torres

 

Another founding member is El Camino Real restaurant owner Jesús Angel, who is credited on a dedication plaque at Latins United with donating some of his labor skills to build the original hall. As Torres tells it, his history with the organization caused Angel to donate food to a recent veteran’s luncheon when he was approached to cater the event. “That was my club,” Torres recalled him saying during a phone conversation.

 

“That was the way they built that place back then,” he said. “Nobody charged. They all had skills and instead of paying people like I do now to fix stuff, they dedicated themselves and wanted to make that club successful. They donated their time.”

 

Now Torres, who recently was re-elected to another two-year term as president, is focused on the next 50 years. A big part of that is forming a building fund to help maintain the aging clubhouse and meeting hall. A reverse raffle scheduled for March 23rd will help establish that building fund.

 

“We’ve got to start remodeling and fixing this facility to make it look like a place we go to now,” said Torres. “I want people to feel welcome and feel that it’s an awesome place where you can sit there and have a couple drinks. After 50-plus years, you can imagine what’s going to need fixed. We’ve got some stuff outside, too.”

 

Torres also stated the board of trustees is discussing plans to buy some nearby lots through the Lucas County Land Bank to one day provide a paved parking lot for Latins United members.

 

The group’s new executive board was elected on Jan. 20, 2019. Alongside Torres, Frank Lizcano will serve a two-year term as vice president, replacing Sabina Serratos-Elizondo, who plans to focus her attention as executive director at Adelante, Inc. Retired educator Mary Morales will continue as treasurer. Connie Herrera was elected as recording secretary, Yolanda Sholl as corresponding secretary, and Samuel “Diego” Ruiz as sergeant-at-arms. David Czajka, Gary Johnson, and Elba McCarrell serve as trustees. Lucas County Auditor Anita López swore the new group in.



Jesús Angel

 

On the social side of the ledger, annual events will continue, such as the Ohio State-Michigan potluck, a bus trip to a Detroit Tigers game, and the ever-competitive winter dart league. In recent months, a Tuesday night open-mic night has developed in partnership with another group led by Steve Soto. Latins United is now in its second year of hosting a Queen of Hearts drawing every Friday evening. The winner will get half of the jackpot, which now stands at $14,000. The rest of the pot will be used to provide Latino college scholarships.

 

Latins United plans to continue the mid-September neighborhood festival Grito Fest as a family-friendly event, in partnership with El Corazón de México Ballet Folklorico and the Northwest Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  The one-day festival is scheduled to occur on Saturday, Sept. 14. Proceeds will benefit the dance troupe. “I was a dancer back then and I’m all about them, our dance group, keeping our culture alive,” said Torres, who met his eventual wife while involved in a Toledo dance troupe as a young man. “We used to have three dancing groups out of Toledo.”

 

Chevo Torres and his wife last year spent a weekend in Lorain to honor the Mexican Mutual Society social club [MMS] as it celebrated its 90th anniversary.  “I stopped by their club [on East 28th Street in Lorain] and it was just like ours. It was awesome and they made me feel at home,” Torres recalled. “I always went to Lorain but never went there. My sisters-in-law were a part of that club.”

 

Lorain’s Mexican Mutual Society

  

According to its incorporation papers filed with the Ohio Secretary of State, the Mexican Mutual Society [MMS] was officially established in November 1928 by Raymond Orozco, Jesús Espinosa, and Luis Pérez Tavera. And the documentation listed nearly 40 other Latino men as original members.

 

David Flores and Joel Arredondo

Membership dues at the time included an initiation fee of $2 and a monthly fee of 50 cents. The group’s stated purpose was “to create a common fund for the purpose of aiding the members of the society in the case of illness, or their families in the case of death and to teach them how they may become useful and better citizens of the United States.”

 

The group celebrated its 90th anniversary with a gala in October of 2018, along with other events throughout the year including: its annual Cinco de Mayo Parade, Little Queen Contest and Coronation, Mexican Independence Day in September, and Christmas buffets and Celebrity Bartender Events.

 

According to its Facebook page, the Mexican Mutual Society, 1820 E. 28th St., Lorain, is conducting its annual membership drive with $15 annual dues and a social membership still priced at $10. The effort is aimed at increasing its membership base. Similar efforts occurred in the 1970s and 1990s. The group went slightly dormant in the 1960s as its original membership base aged or passed away. But it is in the process of growth and revision.

 

MMS will be hosting a Super Bowl Party on Sunday, February 3, when the Rams and the Patriots engage. The group also is planning for its first-ever Valentine’s (Dinner) Baile, to be held Saturday, Feb, 9, from 7 p.m. to midnight, at the Rosebud Party Center, 4493 Oberlin Ave., Lorain. DJ Rey will provide a variety of music, including popular Mexican/Tejano dance music. A $20 per ticket presale is occurring now, with day-of-event prices rising to $30. Proceeds will benefit the group’s annual scholarship fund, which has been in existence for more than two decades.

 

MMS also has hall rental available. Call 440-277-7374 for details.

 

In 1941, the Mexican Mutual Society bought its original location, the Macedonian Coffee House, for $3,000 and paid off the building eight years later. Society President Joel Arredondo has a long history with the group, first getting involved as a ten-year-old boy picking up after the society picnic in 1957. His father served as the society’s treasurer for 44 years. [Arredondo has served for 29 years as president of the organization.] Arredondo and other society members pledged their houses as a collateral for a loan to pay for renovations to the club’s current building in the late 1990s.

 

Joel Arredondo, who has served as Lorain City Council’s president for 12 years, has announced his intention to seek an appointment to an open seat on the Lorain County Commission. This seat was vacated by Lorain County Commissioner Ted Kalo after Kalo was appointed as Lorain City Clerk of Court [due to the midterm retirement of the former clerk in December 2018]. 

 

MMS current officers are:  President Joel Arredondo; Treasurer Rita García; Bar Trustee William Ortega; and Scholarship Trustees Rubén López and Mia Arredondo. [The offices of vice-president and secretary are presently vacant due to the recent retirements of longtime members David Flores and Marie Leibas.] 

 

 

 

 
Copyright © 1989 to 2019 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01/29/19 17:12:02 -0800.

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