Toastmasters International was formed
in October 1924, by Dr. Ralph C. Smedley. The first group
met in the basement of the Santa Ana, California, YMCA, with
the goal “to afford practice and training in the art of
public speaking and in presiding over meetings, and to
promote sociability and good fellowship among its members.”
Growth was initially confined to California at first, but
after World War II, clubs were formed all over the country. The
organization was limited to men only until 1973.
Here are the St. Louis Park Toastmasters chapters that we
know of. If you know of any others, please
The Forty Niners Chapter of Toastmasters International
(“Leadership Through Speech”) met at La Miracle Dining at
the Wooddale Business Center in January 1955.
Talking Meds Club
This club, #5290, was established in March 1991 and meets at
Park Nicollet's "Stilts" Building at 6700 Excelsior Blvd.
It meets weekly on Wednesdays from 11:45 to 12:45 and
meetings are open to all.
The Speakeasy Chapter of Toastmasters #1789 actually started
in Golden Valley in April 1967. The first meeting was held
at the Pako Co., and the name Speakeasy came after five
meetings. The group was geared to businessmen. Dewey Brokofsky, a Honeywell employee, was a
key member and recruiter of other members. Morris Buckmaster
was the group’s first president.
Shortly after forming, the group moved to St. Louis Park,
although their chapter banner still says Golden Valley. In
1972 they met at the Leaning Post. Other venues included the
Anchor Inn, the Twin City Federal building at Knollwood, and
the Park Tavern.
Besides weekly speeches within the group, members
volunteered to make speeches to groups on behalf of the
Kidney Foundation, the Cancer Society, and the United Way.
As was happening with other organizations, women were
increasingly unhappy about being excluded from Toastmasters,
and women’s groups such as the Letterettes Toastmistress
club were unsuccessful. In August 1973, Toastmasters
International voted to give clubs the option of admitting
women. Two thirds of the club had to favor admitting women in
order to make the change. Speakeasy first voted in January
1974, voting no and taking a “wait and see” attitude.
Debates were held with other Toastmasters groups,
particularly the Pony Expressers, and the newsletter asked
questions such as “Will high heels even yet haunt the
hallowed halls of Speakeasy?” Finally, on October 30, 1974,
women were allowed into the group, and the men were urged to
tone down the “garboons,” which we must presume were
off-color jokes. Helen Wegner was the first female member,
joining in 1975.
Speakeasy Toastmasters newsletters were a reflection of
popular culture, with jokes about women’s lib and streakers.
The group also explored
Transactional Analysis, which was
being taught at Honeywell.
The group currently meets in the Community Room at Byerly's,
3777 Park Center Blvd. on Wednesdays at 6:00 pm.
Whole Wheat Toastmasters
This group (#6144) was founded in March 1986 and meets in
the AAA building (5400 Auto Club Road) at 7:15 every Friday