The Slug's Eye View

by Peter B. Smith, (additions by John Sollman)

The Mothers' Club 1948

In the top drawer of a file cabinet in the Tillamook Library, in the "Bay City" rubric, one may find an early record of the Bay City Mothers' Club. The sheets are tattered and hard to read, but worth the effort.

In 1948 a constitution was written and the club began raising funds for various civic projects. In 1955 the club began discussing the park as a project and approached the Bay City Boosters Club which, happily, voted to turn over their interest in the park to the Mothers, helping out whenever possible.

In July 1955, the Mothers put on a dance, with proceeds dedicated to park upgrades. A work party cleared brush and planted donated grass seed, which quickly sprouted. The restroom was restored to working order, whether it was an outhouse or a more sturdy structure with plumbing was not stated. (The original facility, according Betsy Griffin, was a "two-holer" outhouse at the far end of the ball field.)

Playground equipment started with a donated backyard children's swing set, and evolved from there. The City Council voted to provide a drinking fountain, sand box, teeter totter, and rings, with local stonemason Al Griffin building the drinking fountain and a barbecue as well, from which the steel grate was later stolen. (Griffin would serve as the town's mayor for many years, and after he died in office in 1998. The park was named in his honor.)

On September 25, 1955, a dedication was held, featuring Howard Tilden as the keynote speaker. There was a great picnic, which became a tradition for many years thereafter. In October a park fund of $100 was raised by local donations. Interestingly, the Mothers' Club also started another organization dubbed the Fathers' Club, whose sole purpose was to mow the park's new grass. In its first official act, the Fathers' Club voted to disband. The grass was mowed by hand, a young Betsy Griffin, Chris Heil and his wife doing the honors. Later, the city paid Chris to mow the park.




 

For a time, according to the Mothers' Club minutes, the grass was cut by members of the Odd Fellows with their big mower. Eventually the city took over all the mowing.

In the early 1960s the Odd Fellows building burned to the ground in what some think was the handiwork of an arsonist, who set a series of fires at about that time. The park tennis courts now grace the spot where the Odd Fellows Lodge once stood. The concrete slab in front of the restroom building was the landing at the foot of the front steps of the old lodge building.

About 1975, according to Betsy, she and Mike Richards went to work upgrading the park. Better playground equipment was needed, something for the kids to play on in safety. The Mothers' Club set about raising the funds though rummage sales and other community fund raising projects. They even raffled off a boat, Betsy said.

Lots of volunteers turned out to cut brush and trim trees. Mike, Betsy, Tom Imhoff and Jack Scholerman cleared away trees to make a ballpark. Tom Whitehead, Bay City's Methodist minister, came down almost every Saturday to supervise and umpire ball games for the kids, and nearly all the kids in Sunday school turned out to play.

New swings were finally ordered, and installed by Mike and Betsy with the help of a city forklift truck. Mike and Betsy dug the holes and dumped in the concrete after the framework was set in place, "level and plumb," Betsy said. Betsy, Mike and Tom also poured concrete into forms to make supports for the picnic tables. In addition to the swings, the playground had teeter-totters, monkey bars, a slide, spring toys and a balance beam, which was later removed. The original monkey bars were removed when a girl got stuck in them, and replaced with a different, safer design.

To improve the ball diamond, dredging spoils were brought in which, Betsy suspects, contained some things they shouldn't have. The grass didn't like it and wouldn't grow. To rectify the problem, bark from peeled logs was brought in and spread about the ball field. The grass didn't like that either, and still doesn't. "It's an awfully sour soil," Betsy commented.

Two years ago, a gazebo was erected in the park and named the "Jim Cole Memorial Pavilion" in honor of the mayor who succeeded Al Griffin, who, like Al, died in office.


Another copy of the Mothers' Club History is to be found in the Bay City Library, along with a wonderful collection of local historic photographs.

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