In 2016 the Swiss American Club of Miami celebrated its 75th anniversary in grand style at the Fritz & Franz Bierhaus in Coral Gables with the attendance of the famous Swiss Streichmusik Alder Urnaesch and world class Alphorn musician Lisa Stoll.
Against this background, it is worthwhile to have a quick look back at the history of our Club.
At the regular meeting of the BAERE Club held on Monday Evening December 5, 1941 at 7810 N.E. Second Avenue, Miami, it was duly moved and carried, that the BAERE Club of Miami be dissolved and by a further motion, duly made and seconded, that the Club to be known as the SWISS AMERICAN CLUB OF MIAMI, Florida, be formed. Said motion was unanimously accepted.
It is interesting to note that the purpose of the Club has basically never changed and remains the same, namely to nurture friendship and social life amongst the Swiss and Friends of Switzerland, to help to preserve the social and cultural heritage of Switzerland in South Florida and to promote respect and friendship between Switzerland and the United States.
The activities of the Club have, however, changed quite a bit over the years. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Club placed heavy emphasis on Dancing Events and Movies as well as celebration of Wedding Anniversaries and Birthdays of its members. In those days, the Swiss Consul General was located in New Orleans and regularly kept in touch with our Club. The Club Membership was $5.00 and the Bank balance was a steady and impressive $1,800.
Here is a funny excerpt from the February 1961 Minutes “The meeting adjourned at 9.23 p.m. and a film was shown by Ms. Stewart of Swiss Army Movements. Due to lack of sound, the Party broke up and music and dancing was enjoyed the remainder of the evening”.
And another quote from the May 1964 Minutes read “Some films were shown and the men of the Club served the ladies coffee and cakes”.
On September 19, 1976 the Minutes of the Club recalled this incident under “Good news”. Our Treasurer Lotti Ochsendorf is mighty glad to have Karl and Charly back home again. They have been pronounced lost at sea by the US Coast Guard who found their fishing boat overturned during a flash storm last Saturday. September 11, 1976. They were finally rescued in the morning after some long grueling hours in the Atlantic Ocean keeping afloat. I understand they had no desire to see the movie “Jaws”…..”.
One of the best attended events during the first 50 years of the Club was the Annual Picnic Party which traditionally took place at Shelter 1 of Haulover Beach. For instance, in 1984 some 57 members of the Club attended the picnic. Karl and Lotti Ochsendorf travelled all the way to Penn Dutch to pick up two hams but there was a problem with the Buerlis who were sent somewhere else and had to be replaced with Rye Bread.
In 1989 the Swiss American Club of Miami reached a record 100 members.
The 50th Anniversary Celebration in 1992 hosted by Club President Emile Morgenthaler took place on December 13, 1992 at the Alpine “Edelweiss” Room of the Geneva Café with a Gala Dinner consisting of a delicious Gordon Bleu or Sole Normande. The City of Miami celebrated its 96th Anniversary at the same time.
It is also quite amazing how many “Swiss” Restaurants catered to the Swiss Community of Miami in the 1990s, namely the Geneve Café with its famous Swiss Edelweiss Dining Room, The Swiss Chalet and the unique Melody Inn. All of these fabulous Restaurants were used regularly by our Club for its festivities.
There is no doubt that the longest serving President was Emil W. Morgenthaler who guided the fortunes of our Club masterfully from late 1960’s all the way to 1994.
After the turn of the Century, the Swiss American Club grew substantially, under the strong leadership of Hanna Rabenseifner, President from 2000 to 2003, Karin Andersen from 2004 to 2008 and Karo Galvez from 2009 to 2015 and expanded its activities gradually to where it is today.
The current President of the Club is Bea Schmied who assumed her role as of January 1, 2016.