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Adena ‘Dean’ Anderson: Woman Behind the SCA Fair

SCA Fair Is This Saturday, May 7

The name Adena “Dean” Anderson may not be familiar to most Manhasset residents, but the children of Manhasset – indeed, the entire community – owe her a debt of gratitude. Without Dean Anderson’s initiative and community spirit, the SCA Fair might never have come to be.

Dean moved to Manhasset with her husband Albin and their two children, Carolyn Anne and Tommy, in 1941. From the time she arrived in town, Dean was an active and involved member of the community. Dean was the President of the Ruth Circle of the Lutheran Church, and Albin, as chairman of the Lutheran Church’s building committee, was instrumental in the construction of the church on Northern Boulevard, which was completed in 1946. Both Dean and Albin were active in Scouting with their children, and Dean was a Girl Scout leader and a member of the Board.

In 1951, as the Ways and Means Chairman of the SCA, Dean started thinking about how to raise money for the children of Manhasset. After learning about the success of a used clothing shop from a friend in Garden City, Dean asked the SCA Executive Board for permission to open a similar shop, designed to offer “outgrown clothes of fine quality.”  Once her request was approved, the “Turnover Shop” was born.

Getting the Turnover Shop up and running was a labor of love for Dean and the community. Dean’s husband Albin–a chemist by profession–turned part-time carpenter and built the racks and shelves on which the clothes were displayed. Dean placed an article in the Manhasset Press (Manhasset Mail at that time) announcing the Turnover Shop’s opening and requesting donations of clothing. The SCA soon began receiving generous donations of beautiful clothes, and Dean describes the community’s cooperation as “amazing.” Dean kept a notebook that listed the donations and sales of merchandise, and recalls that the very first item was a beautiful cashmere blazer from Lord & Taylor that was sold new for $15. Most of the inventory was donated by the community, although a few brought clothing to be sold on a “half and half” basis, with the Turnover Shop keeping half the sale price.

To call the Turnover Shop a great success would be an understatement. In its first month of business, the Turnover Shop netted $400. (That’s over $3,400 in today’s dollars.) Needless to say, the SCA Executive Board was delighted and amazed at the Turnover Shop’s success. The Turnover Shop was open for business two days a week in a small room on the second floor of the Plandome Road School. Dean and two other Manhasset mothers worked there for three years before turning over the responsibility to other Manhasset moms.

Like the proceeds of present-day SCA fundraising activities, the proceeds from the Turnover Shop were used to fund scholarships and special projects for Manhasset’s schools. However, in proposing the Turnover Shop, Dean had an entirely different idea in mind: she wanted to raise enough money to build an indoor swimming pool at Manhasset High School. Although she was never able to convince the SCA Executive Board to allocate the funds to do so, she has always taken pride in the fact that the funds raised were used to help a wide variety of students in the Manhasset schools.

The Turnover Shop eventually closed in the mid-1960s due to space considerations, but its impact on the Manhasset community is immeasurable. The year following the Turnover Shop’s closing, the first SCA Fair was held, at which Turnover Shop-type items were sold. The Fair was such a success that it has continued annually since then.

The Turnover Shop’s significant fundraising impact was the precursor to today’s SCA Fair. The SCA Fair is the largest single fundraising event undertaken by the SCA, and the funds raised through the SCA Fair enable the SCA to fund a variety of programs to enrich the education and social life of Manhasset’s children. But it was Dean Anderson’s initial spark of an idea, to raise funds for Manhasset’s children, that was the impetus for the SCA’s structured fundraising activities. One can honestly say that without Dean Anderson, the SCA Fair might never have come to pass.

Dean, a widow, still resides in Manhasset with her beloved dog Lily. At age 103, she has seen many changes in the community, from the changes on Plandome Road to the prices of homes.

Dean was recognized for her civic contributions in March 1954, when she was named “Woman of the Month” by Manhasset Club Life Magazine. In honoring Dean, the magazine praised “her boundless energy and initiative which is always at the service of her church or community.” It noted the instant success of the Turnover Shop, stating that “Today it is big business in other capable hands, but it was Dean’s hard work and foresight that sparked it.”

Perhaps most significant were Dean’s own words about the importance of contributing to the community: “You receive so much more than you give, in the way of personal satisfaction, that every parent should have the experience.”