2016 marks the 90th anniversary of this 2-room social club in the small town of Norway, Maine. Named the Weary Club by its charter members, the “Wearies”, it is home to self-proclaimed “Makers and Dealers in cedar shavings, social gossip, political wisdom and Yankee philosophy.”
The Weary Club was incorporated in 1926 as a place for local men (and, at the time, it was only men) to play cribbage and tell tales restricted to “fishing, hunting and kindred subjects”. Smoking and whittling were essential activities, organized around the potbellied stove in winter and on the front porch in summer. The only rules were no drinking, and no gambling.
The club was started by a group of local “Norwegians,” who originally met at Beale’s Tavern down the block. When the Tavern closed in 1923 the group moved around for a few years, finally landing in its permanent spot on Main Street. The criteria for admission was pretty simple, if a bit of a head-scratcher: “Only to those who can carve a cedar shaving light enough to float.”
Shares in the club were sold for $25, which bought you a lifetime membership with voting rights. Some non-voting shares were available too, for certain individuals: out-of-towners, part-timers, vacationers, and drummers. (Clearly a less-wholesome lot.)
One final share was held in reserve for President Calvin Coolidge. But he was from Vermont, so probably had no time for the Mainiacs over in Norway anyway.
Know Before You Go
Norway is about 50 miles north of Portland. Follow I-95 to Rt. 26 north. When you get to Norway turn left onto Main Street and the Weary Club will be about a mile down on the right.
There are no regular hours, but the Club (which has long admitted women) is generally open for conversation and cribbage. It still serves its purpose as the Main Street social center, hosting charity and other events, and in keeping with their old temperance policy, they also host regular AA meetings. Mostly it’s still a place to stop by, catch up and catch your breath.