The Saddle Story

A story about a new tradition

RCS has a long history. During all the events that have transpired in Shanghai’s turbulent and dynamic history, there have been times when there was change and disruption. We, at RCS, are looking to build stability and continuity with our traditions and how we carry them out. This is a story about a new tradition. 

We like to hear from our members and know them better. During our regular meetings, we have a tradition that spans many years where we allow a person to stand up and tell us about what is making them happy, sad or curious. To have this privilege, we ask that the speaker places a small monetary contribution into our Saddle. Saddle? Why a saddle? Let me explain.

Originally, when I joined the Rotary Club of Shanghai in 2005, we would collect the “Happy Money” in a wooden bucket. The bucket was brought out for every meeting and people would say, “Please put your contribution in the bucket.” This seemed to be a long tradition and the bucket itself was rather weathered and old looking.

My brother, from Pendleton Oregon, decided to bring his club members in 2010 to Shanghai. He asked me what would be a nice gift that would have significance to our club. I asked our resident historian Rtn. Randal Eastman if the bucket was an heirloom or just a wood bucket without special significance. He said the bucket was just a bucket. I thought this was a good opportunity to get something special into our traditions so I told my brother to get us a new bucket that had meaning.

My brother wanted to give us a very special present from his rotary club that not only represented his club and the club’s spirit but had a strong connection to Shanghai. Pendleton Oregon is very famous for its woolen mills and its western traditions. A strong part of the western culture there is the cowboy culture. The town of Pendleton holds one of the biggest annual rodeos in the USA and has some of the best saddle makers in the world. He came up with the idea to not give us a replacement bucket, but to actually make a collection cup made from saddle leather for our weekly Happy Money collection.

After receiving this amazing gift, we, as a club, immediately began to use it. The toughest thing was to call the Saddle, the Saddle, because we were so used to saying the bucket every week. We fined anyone who said bucket, they had to put money in the saddle. The saddle is now a very significant symbol of our club and we are very proud of it.

Andrew Hill

Member since: 2005

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