The L.M.E. Society

The L.M.E. Society was formed in 1926 at the Kronprinsen Restaurant on Drottninggatan in Stockholm. There was already a social club within Ericsson called the S.T. Society that also had strong ties to the public telegraph service. The intention in forming the L.M.E. Society, however, was to create a more general club for all office workers in the company. The L.M.E. Society was also from the start closely linked to the company, which over the years provided substantial contributions for parties and other activities. Primary objectives in establishing the society were to organize activities providing both information about work-related subjects and an opportunity for pleasant social interaction.

During its first ten years, the L.M.E. Society was very active in sports. There was a special sports committee that was responsible for tennis tournaments, cross-country running, winter sports, pentathlon, etc. Trophies were often awarded to the best athletes at parties. In 1937, however, a special sports club was organized within Ericsson that took over these activities.

One of the Society’s more important activities was lectures. These were held almost exclusively by engineers and covered such topics as “Power transmission in South America,” “Television with demonstration” and “Iran – an old and a new market.” Study visits were arranged regularly to Ericsson’s own or other companies’ plants. Breweries and candy manufacturers seem to have been popular places to visit.

The first members’ meeting was held on a spring evening at the Strand Hotel. Spring dinners would remain the Society’s largest gatherings. These dinners featured entertaining speeches and specially composed songs. Well into the 1940s, such evenings were crowned by comedy shows in the tradition of student festivals that featured internal jokes and jibes. Up to 300 members could attend these evenings. Dress was formal, either a tuxedo or a dark suit, and the venue was often Restaurant Hasselbacken.

Toward the end of the 1930s, the L.M.E. Society began to hold goose dinners in the autumn. The menu consisted of sandwiches, goose soup with giblets, roast goose, dessert, beer, schnapps, sherry and red wine. A tradition was quickly established that the goose dinner was held at Hotel Gillet at Brunkebergstorg. The Society’s members were therefore saddened to see their second home torn down in 1969.

There was dancing to live music at all parties. Even after the student comedy tradition was lost, entertainment was often provided, such as singers, comedians etc.

As is often the case with employee societies, discussion occasionally arose as to whether or not spouses should be allowed to attend the dinners. A vote among members was held in 1956 on what was called “the dinner partner issue.” The results showed that a minority wished to bring along their spouses to the dinners at full price, while the majority wanted Ericsson to subsidize the price.

During the 1970s, the Society started what were called novice evenings for persons hired during the past year. These events undoubtedly played an important role in getting new employees to feel at home and to take an active part in the L.M.E. Society.

In 1987, Ericsson announced that the business areas no longer saw any reason to support the L.M.E. Society’s activities economically. Instead, personnel activities were to be organized within each section. In a letter signed by Björn Svedberg, who was president at that time, the decision was motivated by the fact that activities that had previously been arranged by the L.M.E. Society had been taken over by the company’s sports and leisure organizations. The business areas therefore questioned “the value of subsidizing two or three parties each year which were only attended by a small number of Ericsson employees in the Stockholm area.”

After 61 years, the L.M.E. Society was thus dissolved, despite intensive activity and hundreds of members, at the Goose Dinner on November 13, 1987. An Ericsson tradition had thus come to an end.

Author: Text: Edward Blom

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