The Orchid Society of California was founded in 1937 with thirty-four "Charter members and the following Directors: Mr. Herbert E. Metcalf, President - Mr. Thomas S. Kirkwood, Vice President - Mr. Cyril Warren, Secretary and Dr. Warren B. Allen Treasurer. It was the only Orchid Society West of the Mississippi. The Orchid Society of Southern California was formed in 1938 and joined with the Orchid Society of California (O.S.C.) that same year to form the Orchid Digest Corp. (O.D.C.). The early Orchid Digest magazines contained the Society, communications and meeting notices.

Several renown orchid growers and hybridizers have presided over the society such as the late Robert "Bob Jones", Herb Hager, Jack Tonkin, Helen and Maynard Michel and Frank Fordyce.

Reviewing the minutes of the Board Meetings of 1941 through 1958 which were luckily preserved, I learned that the meetings in the early years were held for a period of time at the Montclair Women,s Club and then on April 15, 1941 the meetings were moved to the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley which remained the home of the Society for 15 years. On May 15, 1956, the meetings were then moved to the Sailboat House in Lakeside Park, Oakland and remained there through 1975. In January 1976 the meetings were then changed to our current meeting place, the Lakeside Garden Center in Oakland.

The O.D.C. developed its own orchid judging system independently of the American Orchid Society (which was started in 1924). The O.D.C. judging system was followed by nearly all the western orchid societies including the Orchid Society of California. Approximately in 1967, the O.D.C. and A.O.S. entered into negotiations to merge the two judging system. The current A.O.S. judging system became official about 1972.

By the late 1940's, a substantial portion of the O.S.C. members lived inthe San Francisco area. These individuals proposed that the O.S.C. relocate from Oakland to San Francisco, The Oakland area members opposed this, so the San Francisco area members started their own society.

In 1982 under president Terry Boomer, it was decided to start an annual sale (Mother's Day Sale) to keep up with the rising expenses. These sales were first held at the Willows Shopping Center in Concord, then Danville and finally moved to the Lakeside Garden Center.

It was a tradition of the Society to hold its Shows and Dinners at elegant Hotels. For many years, the yearly events were held at the Leamington Hotel and then at the Claremont Hotel and later at the Hilton Hotel, Oakland, etc. The first commercial sale was added to the yearly Show and Dinner in 1992 when the entire event was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Concord. As of 1993, the Show, Sale and Dinner has been held at the Lakeside Garden Center.

For nostalgic reasons, let's go back in time 25 years. The Show and Dinner was held at the Claremont Hotel, and a total of 243 members attended the dinner on October 23, 1951. The president of the society in 1951 was renown phalaenopsis hybridizer Herb Hager who passed away in recent years, and by the way, dinner at that time was $4.00 per person. It was an elegant affair where members came adorned with jewels, dressed in evening gowns and tuxedos as was customary in that era when the nation danced to the sounds of the big bands.

Prices have gone up everywhere since then, and we might not dress as elegant as in the early days of our society as times have changed; however, one thing remains unchanged and that is our love and passion for orchids which the early members of our society had.

We can all be proud of being members of this society with such aprominent history and with combined effort we can look forward to a colorful future.

Pauline Brault

President 1991 & 1997


Note: The above information was compiled for the 60th Anniversary of the Orchid Society of California, November 8, 1997, held at Lakeside Garden Center in Oakland, California with research by OSC members Noble Emery and Betty Wickstrom.