Protective Association of Lonely Souls

The Protective Association of Lonely Souls (PALS) was established in 1919 by three wives of state legislators (including Maude Pettis and Jessie Boggs Harris) who happened to meet in Capitol Park at some point during that session. PALS was based on the Congressional Club, a bipartisan non-profit of current and former spouses of Members of Congress that was formed in 1908.

1941 “Homecoming Luncheon” for members of the PALS Club.

During World War II, the PALS created a cookbook containing recipes from the members, as well as from the wives of the state’s constitutional officers. One humorous addition can be found at the end of the book where Artie Samish, a lobbyist for the liquor industry, took out a two page advertisement boasting about the benefits of having wine with dinner. By the 1960s, a similar group (composed of the spouses of lobbyists) called “GALS” existed for a few years, which met occasionally with joint meetings with PALS.

By 1953, membership had reached about 140. The group met weekly and the “chair of the day” would decide whether there would be a program or an afternoon of card games.

As of the 1950s, the club’s officers included a President, 1st VP, 2nd VP, Secretary, Treasurer, and Historian. In the 1960s, a second group called the “Senator’s Wives Association” was also in existence.
was the original sponsor of the PALS cook book. In the 1970s and 1980s, the members had a short newsletter titled the “PALS Club letter” which included social notes (described as “friendly and family matters” by longtime member Constance Tomlinson in her 1988 oral history interview).

According to Mary MacGillivray’s 1989 oral history interview, the at least some of the members understood the acronym as being an abbreviation of “Protective Association for Legislative Spouses.” MacGillivray further described the legislator spouse orientation that happened when her husband started his first term in 1967;

“[W]e went to these sessions and we had different people talk to us. We had a woman talk to us about etiquette and about how to get in and out of cars gracefully. I guess she thought we all came from the sticks or something. Not everybody who goes up there has had a political background, so this is great.”

Mary MacGillivray (PALS Member, 1967-1986)
The cover of a event program from 1954 and the club bylaws from 1955.

The club went through a number of changes of the years, as you might expect from any member-driven club adapting to the changing times. However, it was after the arrival of term limits in 1990 that the club began to go into a decline. Some have attributed it to the departure of the long-time legislators whose families had been active in the club, while others felt that the major driver was the lack of interest by new legislative spouses (many of whom stayed “at home” in the district rather than moving to Sacramento). In any case, the club had ended operations by 1996.

San Bernardino Sun, Volume 65, 30 March 1959, p. A-3

Presidents of PALS
1919-1923: Jessie Boggs Harris
1923-1925: Mrs. T. C. West
1925-1927: Lottie Steffans Hollister
1927-1929: Mrs. Frank Hiller
1929-1931: Pearl Baker
1931-1933 – Mrs. Russel Ray Ingels
1933-1935: Mildred Seawell
1935-1937: Helen Knowland
1937-1939: Mrs. John Phillips
1939-1941: Mary Fletcher
1941-1943: Mildred Seawell
1943-1945: Aida Collier
1945-1947: Mrs. James J. McBride
1947-1949: Ludessa Watson
1949-1951: Laura Hulse
1951-1953: Evelyn Park Sutton
1953-1955: Ethen Vera Hoffman
1955-1957: Mabel Ross Abshire
Late 1950s: Grace Conrad

1963-1965 – Virginia Branum Cobey
1965-1967 –
1969-1971 – Marvia Burgener

Early 1980s – Patricia Garamendi
1980s – Sherry Leonard

“Pals Club Unique Among Women s Organization” Stockton Independent, Volume 128, Number 43, 15 March 1925
“Mrs. Ben Hulse Elected Head Of Pals Club” Calexico Chronicle, Volume XLV, Number 36, 10 March 1949
“Monday Club Members Guests Of Mrs. Abshire”, Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar, Number 31, 21 April 1955