Brewster Legion Post to mark 100th anniversaries with special project
Veterans formed Brewster American Legion Post 464 in 1920, and completed construction on a Legion Hall the following year.
BREWSTER — Members of Brewster American Legion Post 464 had hoped to celebrate the post’s 100th anniversary in 2020, but like every other community celebration and gathering, it had to be shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, in its 101st year, Post members are gearing up for a belated celebration — one that now not only marks the 100th anniversary of the post’s founding, but the 100th anniversary of the construction of the Brewster Legion Hall.
The celebration will take place during Brewster Fun Days, the third weekend in July. Leading up to that event, Post members are hoping to raise enough money to purchase pavers for every World War I veteran from Brewster — the original founders of the Legion Post.
Post member Thomas Behrends said 53 World War I veterans are recognized each year during a roll call on Memorial Day. He has since investigated history books from both Nobles and Jackson counties and discovered another 35 WWI veterans with ties to Brewster.
All but five of the veterans do not have their name imprinted on a paver stone in the community’s veterans memorial. Legion members want to change that.
To help pay for the pavers — they cost $200 each — Legion and Sons of the American Legion members, Jim’s Amoco, Rolling Hills Bank in Brewster and Pawn-It in Worthington have started selling raffle tickets. For a $10 ticket, buyers have the opportunity to win one of five guns; $200 gift cards to Hy-Vee, Runnings and Pawn-It; $150 gift cards to Buffalo Billfold Company, The Daily Apple, Johnson Jewelry, The Stag and W-2 Meats; or a $100 gift card to Jim’s Amoco. The drawing and announcement of winners will be July 18, at the conclusion of Fun Days, at the Brewster Legion Hall.
Behrends said the goal is to complete the paver addition yet this year. When the community’s veterans memorial was constructed, it included ample space for added pavers. Behrends said the WWI veteran pavers will be kept together on one of the blank areas in the pentagon-shaped memorial.
In doing the fundraiser, Post 464 Commander Curt Luitjens said individuals may want to purchase a paver in remembrance of Brewster ancestors who served in WWI.
“Most of the families are gone from the area,” speculated Behrends. “But there may be people who thought about doing it for a granddad, and that’s (an option) too.”
Anyone interested in sponsoring a paver is encouraged to contact Behrends at email@example.com or 360-3057.
Legion Hall turns 100
When Brewster’s veterans gathered in 1920 to establish an American Legion Post, perhaps one of their first projects was construction of a hall. Members went to work on a plot of land in Brewster, providing the manual labor to bring the hall to completion in 1921.
Korean War veteran Ferdie Haberman recalls well the transformation the hall has taken over the years with one addition after another. A kitchen area was first to be added in 1946.
The Legion still features the original hardwood flooring installed a century ago, said Haberman, noting that the stage was built in 1963 or 1964 while he was commander. Restrooms were a significant upgrade from the “three-holer out behind the Legion hall,” he shared.
“We used to have a lot of dances here — probably two a week,” Haberman said. “They’d fill that hall up and that floor would just (move in waves). That’s why the square dancers loved it — it had a little give.”
The rocking floor was raised at a concern at a Legion meeting, and Haberman said more posts were recently placed underneath it to make it more stable.
While Legion members sell raffle tickets to raise money for the pavers, they have ongoing and annual fundraising events as well.
In January, they were once again able to resurrect Thursday night Bingo at the Hall. Open to adults 18 and older, the games offer good pay-outs while also raising funds to cover expenses for the Legion. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with Bingo starting at 7:15 p.m.
A couple of weeks ago, they had their largest gathering of Bingo players in years, with 61 players.
“It’s nice to see some people getting out and about and having fun again,” Behrends said. “We maintain everything real well in here and social distance.”
During Brewster Fun Days, the Brewster Legion Auxiliary will host a French Toast Feed, after which it usually donates some money to the Legion’s projects. Also during the community celebration, the Legion will host a pork chop feed on July 17, with proceeds going toward the Legion Hall and veterans memorial.
Following the Brewster Fun Days parade, Behrends will lead a program at the veterans memorial, highlighting its design and some of the veterans recognized there — particularly those who served in World War I.
Luitjens said the Legion continues to talk about other activities to celebrate the Legion’s 100th anniversary during Brewster Fun Days.
Today, the Legion boasts 84 members and 35 Sons of the American Legion members.