(Editor's note: The following is a citizen's recollection on her days growing up at Spring Lake Park. The Chronicle Times will publish similar stories from time to time to spark readers' interest in the Spring Lake Park Yacht Club Committee's ongoing fund-raiser for a new Yacht Club to be built in the popular Cherokee Park. Marlene Kelly of Cherokee, penned this article.)
I cannot remember a time in my life when Spring Lake and Spring Lake Park were not a part of my 70 some years.
My Dad would take me swimming in Spring Lake, yes dirty old duck-infested Spring Lake. He would hold me by the crisscross on the back of my bathing suit so I could keep my head above the water. Thank goodness he gave me his love for water. (My Poor Mom was very afraid of the water & didn't like the outdoors.)
At that time the Lake was beautiful and spring fed, having been a gravel pit. You could walk through the water and feel the warm springs coming up to your feet. We were told it was cleaner than a pool since the sun shown on it every day. The lake would overflow to the river on the north side so there was fresh water from the springs and dirty water flowing to the river. Nice warm sandy beach on both sides of the bathhouse!
At that time there was a double tower to dive from and a raft floating on the water. I remember driving off the tower and coming up w/mud/silt that was about 10 or 12 feet down. Also coming up under the raft that was full of people and level with the water. There were a lot of nails coming through the wooden raft. What a scare that was! My bathing hat was full of holes from the nails. (Yes, I wore a rubber-bathing hat.)
One time I had someone on my shoulders and walked off the "ledge" (much deeper water) about at the end of the dock. There was a lifeguard seat on both the top of the tower and the dock.
Several friends and I would ride a truck into town after detasseling and walk straight to the Lake. What a joy that was after being in the cornfield all day! Yes truck, no bus. We did not even know what a "spot a pot" was!
I was lucky enough to get a job as a lifeguard during my high school years. We would give swimming lessons in the morning and take the rowboat down to the South end to eat our lunch. (I better not mention what the South end was called). It was always so beautiful and quiet with birds and flowers. At night I would work in the Cottage Ice Cream store for Louie Hausmann with my other love, ice cream. And also the American Theater for Dale Goldie.
I only had to jump in to drag two people out of the Lake. A small child that had gone beyond the dock and a very heavyset guy. I remember saying to him, "do not hang on to me around my neck!" He didn't! I also threw my sunglasses in the water; I was so excited to go get him out of the water.
The bathhouse was wooden and we cleaned it with a hose. People kept their clothes in baskets and wore the matching pins. One night after everyone was gone, we had a basket of clothes left over. OH OH! Just as we were trying to decide what to do, look for a body in the Lake?, the young man came back to get his clothes. THANK GOD! We told him NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!
My Dad took me and my children for weiner roasts and to feed bread to the ducks. I could go on and on about the reunions, birthday parties, our 40th anniversary, a Christmas weekend with each side of the family in the Yacht Club. Beautiful lake, snow, warm fireplace, cool picnics. THE NICEST PLACE in town to celebrate anything, winter or summer.