Rats discussed (and possibly eaten) at Orange Rotary Club meeting in 1925

Published 12:08 am Friday, February 24, 2023

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One of the most unusual Rotary Club meetings in the history of Orange Rotary occurred on Jan. 13, 1925.

H.J. Lutcher Stark gave the address to the club after he was introduced as “Ratarian Lutcher Stark.” The theme of Stark’s address was “Ratarians Ratting in a Ratarian Way.”

Stark stated the “Ratters” during the trapping season in Orange would bring in about half a million hides and the ratting industry in Orange was in its infancy.

Using a large map on the wall, Stark reviewed the rat industry. He referred to the organization of the Orange-Cameron Land Company and the subsequent organization of a trapping company. There had been the leasing and buying of vast areas of land in the Louisiana marsh land that was converted into trapping territory.

Stark showed on the map a territory nine miles wide and 30 miles long that was held by various trappers.

Stark’s address was illustrated by showing numerous muskrat, mink and otter hides. The illustration was closed with the showing of a Hudson Seal Coat made of muskrat hides. Hudson Seal, said Stark, was growing very scarce. “Hudson Seal” was patented in 1907. It was died muskrat fur, popular until about the 1940s.

In the regular order of business following Stark’s address, E.V. Folsom read a communication having to do with the annual Rotary conference to be held in Galveston the following March 9 & 10.

Hunter Huddle reported that Rotarian Harry Kitterman was convalescing after having undergone an operation at the Mayo Brothers Sanitarium in Rochester, Minnesota. He was expected to return home about Feb. 10.

Charles Speer, a member of the Oakland California Rotary Club, spoke a short time about the work being done by his club on behalf of crippled children.

George Colburn, former financial secretary of the Boy Scout Council, introduced D.E. Roach as his successor. Roach stated the 1925 budget called for the raising of $6,600 and asked those interested in scouting get in touch with the soliciting committee and subscribe liberally to the fund.

C.E. Leedy, program chairman, said he hoped the Rotarians enjoyed what had appeared to be a stew made of choice beef. He then informed the club that the stew, in keeping with the theme of Stark’s presentation, had been made from muskrats provided by local trappers.

The report of the meeting made no mention of the reaction of the members to Leedy’s announcement of the stew.

“And now you know.”

— Written by Mike Louviere