Valley Home Community Center History
Every town has a heart. But a town heart can grow old, become dysfunctional and often cry for help. Such is the case in Valley Home - a small historic community northwest of Oakdale along the now-gone tracks of the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Thalheim, now called Valley Home, was established as an official U.S. post office in the fall of 1903 but it was not until August 12, 1913 that Thalheim received its heart - the Thalheim Literary & Social Club clubhouse.
Records show that clubhouse committees were looking after building plans and a building site as early as February of that year. At a March meeting of the Financial Committee of the Thalheim Literary & Society Club it was decided to incorporate and sell stock to anybody wishing to buy at one dollar a share to build the proposed clubhouse. At the same time it was announced three city lots had been donated to the club by William McLaughlin and John Soehl for the clubhouse grounds and building site. The Oakdale Graphic stated, "Such generosity surely shows the public spirited sentiment of the people there."
The April 10, 1913 issue of the Oakdale Leader reports, "A very interesting business meeting was held by the Thalheim Literary & Social Club. $500 has been pledged in cash for the new social hall. A large sum will be represented by voluntary labor. By next week it is thought that ample funds will be pledged to ensure the building as now planned. This new literary and social hall will do much for Thalheim and vicinity.
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The Thalheim Literary & Social Club opened the new clubhouse door on April 12, 1913 by presenting a five-act drama, entitled, "The Pet of Parson's Ranch." It was reported by the Oakdale Graphic, "The drama was presented in a manner that would have done credit to a troop of professionals and was witnessed by a crowded house, which speaks well for the Thalheim people." The new clubhouse building was 36x70' with a stage 16x20' having two commodious dressing rooms, one on each side. The stage was well equipped with scenery sufficient to put on any ordinary play. The hall had a fine dancing floor and was to be the scene of many enjoyable dancing parties in its future.
A board of five trustees looked after the hall in the interests of the people and nothing that would offend the most exacting was tolerated by these men, all of whom, had the interests of the community at heart.
One of the first events held in the new clubhouse was in October 1913 when a Saturday evening dance was given for the pleasure of the construction gang of the Southern Pacific Railway Co. who had worked on the new depot. A large crowd enjoyed the dance in the Literary Hall and a supper in the new depot. The next month the T.L.&S. Club had a Halloween party at the clubhouse. Most everyone was masked and for a while the hall was a ghostly place. The decorations consisted of pumpkins, black cats, witches and other appropriate symbols. As the evening was warm, masks were soon discarded and the rest of the time was spent playing games and eating. Among the good things to eat, was some homemade candy made by Mrs. Ed. Britt.
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In the January 26, 1916 minutes of the Thalheim Literary & Social Club it was mentioned that the clubhouse floor was in a "rough" condition for an upcoming dance and some thought it should be oiled, and others not. A compromise was effected by appointing a committee of three to polish the floor with a "bale of hay." The process must have been successful as the dance committee turned in proceeds of $10.10 at the next meeting.
The next excerpt skimmed from the records shows that in August 1918, at a mass meeting held at the clubhouse, the people of the community voted to change the town name to Valley Home which is the English translation for Thalheim that is of German origin, and during this period of history, the U.S. was at war with Germany. The post office name was officially changed in October, 1918.
A listing of some of the varied events held in the Valley Home Community Clubhouse (name had been changed) goes like this: Mr. Hummel's traveling entertainers and the Escalon orchestra both in February 1922, a dance and entertainment party held in May 1929 as a benefit fundraiser for the Valley Home Cemetery, a reorganization meeting and election of new officers for the Valley Home Literary & Social Club in June 1939, November Halloween dances or parties every year, card parties held in 1940 to raise funds for repairing the clubhouse, a gathering of residents to discuss a plan to "help win the war by furnishing fuel for the U.S.S. Stanislaus, a proposed U.S. Navy ship honoring Stanislaus County," an informational meeting in May 1943 to discuss Valley Home fire protection and the formation of the Valley Home Volunteer Fire Department, and annual homecoming celebrations such as the dance and picnic in July 1946 where, "Hundreds enjoyed BBQ at Valley Home (more persons than could possibly get into the clubhouse),"
The Valley Home Community Clubhouse became the heart of the community by hosting plays, weddings, receptions, Valley Home School graduation ceremonies, regular meetings of clubs such as the Valley Home 4-H, fund raisers of organizations such as the Valley Home Parent's Club, the Valley Home Children's Theater, special celebrations such as 50th wedding or Valley Home 4-H Club's anniversaries, and the list goes on.
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Written by Glenn Burghardt, Historian & published in the Oakdale Leader, Sept. 2004