In the literary world of the '203 and '303, the most comical character on the U.S. scene was the hale & hearty joiner who slapped his fellow businessmen on the back at service-club luncheons and addressed total strangers as "Tom," "Dick" or "Harry." Sinclair Lewis called him "Babbitt," H. L. Mencken called him "boob," and many another writer dismissed him simply as "a Rotarian."

Last week, as nearly 9,000 Rotarians gathered in Seattle for the 45th annual convention of the world's largest service club, a back or two was certainly slapped. Total strangers called each other by their first names...

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