To mark the milestone, a VFW auxiliary member is publishing a history of Post 9625.
“The VFW was the center of my parents’ social world for many years,” she said.
King, herself a longtime member of the post’s Ladies Auxiliary, set out to write an essay to mark the milestone. She wound up with so much material that she penned a book of more than 100 pages titled, “A Legacy of Service — History of the Coon Rapids Post 9625.”
King, who used to work for the Anoka County Historical Society, is self-publishing the volume that weaves together facts and figures and colorful oral histories. Proceeds from the book, which will be available for sale later this month, will go to the group, she said.
After digging into the post’s early days, King was struck by how its development mirrored that of the suburb’s.
Coon Rapids was barely a year old when a group of World War II veterans signed the post’s charter on July 23, 1953, she said. The post had a modest start with 25 members in the bygone LaBounty bar.
The city was an attractive place for many soldiers returning from the war, with affordable homes that had big yards and easy access to jobs, King said. Before the VFW, many soldiers gathered informally to swap war stories over a beer, she added.
Since then, “There’s been a steady influence of the VFW on the community.”
The post has come a long way since those first meetings at the LaBounty bar, which later became known as the Bonanza Club.
A couple of years in, the steadily growing group got to talking about building a post home. That materialized in 1957, but when the group ran into some financial problems, it returned to local bars and occasionally some people’s homes.
At one point, the post decided to get a liquor license, a move that caused a stir at the time, King said.
In 1974, it settled into a single-story building on Coon Rapids Boulevard, which is still its home base today. Its prime location on the city’s main drag contributed to the post’s vibrant social scene in the 1970s and ’80s.
“Just about anyone drove down that street and could see it. They would often stop for a beer after work,” King said.
Through the years, the post has supported all kinds of community causes. “It ebbs and flows depending on who’s in charge and where their passions lie,” she said.
In the beginning, the post was made up mostly of fathers of young children, so it sponsored activities for that age group, like Cub Scouts and Little League. Later, the post raised money for various high school programs, from sports to the arts. In 1986, the post was setting aside $15,000 each month for scholarships for graduating seniors, King said, adding, “That was during its heyday.”
It also gave money to the city’s Snowflake Days, Mercy Hospital, the Coon Rapids Police Department and a cancer research facility at the University of Minnesota.
By 2005, however, revenues at the post had dwindled, partly as a result of the statewide smoking ban that went into effect that year.