In June 1956, a group of young couples at the South Oakleigh Methodist congregation came together to form the Young Marrieds group. The idea was initiated by Rev Ron Williams, who suggested starting a social evening once a month for members to meet outside their busy work and family commitments.
The group originally consisted of eight couples ranging from 21 to 35 years of age. At the time of Church union, the congregation combined with East Bentleigh Presbyterian Church to form the Coatesville Uniting Church. As the years went by, ‘Young Marrieds’ was no longer an appropriate title for the group, so the name ‘56 Club’ was adopted.
Graeme Duke has been a member of the 56 Club since the early years of the group.
“The 56 Club met a profound need in the chaos of the post-war baby boom,” Mr Duke said.
“South Oakleigh Methodist Church originally served the fringes of Hughesdale and Oakleigh.
“Mothers stayed home to look after children and relied on neighbours and churches for social contacts and support.”
Many of the new houses in the area were occupied by young couples and the 56 Club provided a vital support network for them. The monthly gatherings also set the foundation for lifelong friendships.
“We helped each other cope and had a lot of fun. In our small way we helped create a community,” Mr Duke said.
The bonds created by this close-knit community have remained strong over the decades.
The majority of the 56 Club members are now in their late 70s to 90s, but still attend regular meetings, including those who have moved to other districts or churches.
On Sunday 5 June at 10am, the 56 Club will celebrate its 60th anniversary with a church service followed by a light lunch at Coatesville Uniting Church (corner of Mackie and North Roads, Bentleigh East). Past members and any family members are welcome to attend this reunion.
For further information, please contact the President/Secretary Don and Joyce Reyment on 9570 7708, or email Treasurer Alan Collard firstname.lastname@example.org