Issue 6-29-14 Website - page 11

School’s Out
“The boys of this
village are in trouble.
andwe boys are to have
our usual summer’s
vacat ion from the
fatigues of school life.
But the question is, how
and in what way shall
webepermitted toenjoy
the sports and pleasures
which vacation brings
us? Willie Huyck and I
have been looking over
the field and we don’t
find, after a days hunt,
a play ground in town
where the boys can get
off a pound of fun of
any kind. No place to
playball, norfly thekite,
nor swim, nor to sport
in any of the games we
are master of. There is
nothing in thewayofplay that the
boys take delight in, but we are
told wherever we go that ‘there
is some law against it.’ We are
met by thiskindof talknomatter
where we go. We think this is
some toughonusboys.Please tell
can find a playgroundwherewe
can play unmolested.”
Things were pretty tough in
July 1879, when JohnAnderson
wrote this letter to the
. And a week later Eltie
Cochran chimed in and wrote:
“I and Willie Bolt have been
looking for a place to play ball
but we have not found one yet.
If anybody knows of a place let
us know.” And tomakematters
worse, it looked as if the local
swimming hole was going to
be closed: “We understand with
regret that amanifesto has gone
forth that the boys of our village
are to be deprived of the only
sport left to them within the
limits of the corporation—that
of bathing at the hemlocks or
the willows were their fathers
bathed unmolested forty years
ago – or as long as LeRoy has
been a village. It seems to us
that this should not be done
and especially in the absence of
swimming baths so essential to
health and cleanliness in towns
andcitiesandwhich isso rapidly
gaining favor in thepublicmind.
Whereelsecan the threehundred
boys of our village go to deport
themselves in thismostenjoyable
and healthful pastime? These
old swimming places should be
perpetually secured to the boys
or places equally available for
sanitary reasons if for on other.
Would it not be a good plan at
least until we have something
better provided for the trustees
of the village to designate some
portion of the creek above Lodi
bridgebetween twopointswhere
enjoy this most useful and
delightful exercise.”
I haven’t been able to find out
whathappened that summer. Did
the Village fathers change their
minds? Were the boys allowed
to go swimming at theWillows?
Did someoneoffer afield for the
boys to play ball? Or was it the
summer that the boys couldn’t
“get off apoundof fun,” as John
It would be another fifty years
before LeRoy established a
recreation program. In 1922
Mayor H.B. Ward created the
LeRoy Recreation Commission.
Bridgebehind theMunsonStreet
dam. The old Kellogg house
on the corner of Church Street
(later demolished) was the local
communitycenterwitha reading
room and table tennis and other
indoor activities.
The Recreation Commission
also oversaw skating in the
winter on the Creek and the
flooded tennis courts. The
athletic field behind the high
school was used for baseball,
volley ball, soccer-football and
track events. There were plans
tobuild apool alongMill Street
next to the creek. (Behind the
present-day post office –which
hadn’tbeenbuiltyet.)The tennis
courts and the Clubhouse at
Summit Street and Wolcott
Street had been donated to the
Village byDonaldWoodward.
The Village had made it
possibleforboys togocampingat
LakeOntario andConesus Lake
All of the activities were under
the direction of Daniel Carroll
whohadbeenan instructor at the
Department ofHealthEducation
“Where andHowLeRoyPlays,”
theRecreationCommission listed
several additional “needs” that
would enhance the Recreation
Commission. “A new and safe
swimming pool. A regulation
playground with wading pool
for smaller children. At least
two bowling greens for men,
in the new park. A basketball
floor available for boys and
girls outside of school hours. A
permanent clubhouse for boys
and girls, for scouting and other
organizations. And someday, a
fine modern indoor swimming
pool for everybody.”
The introduction in the book
includes this paragraph: “It is
often said, ‘My generation grew
up without being so pampered.
We made good citizens. Why
all this fuss and expense over
organized play? Very good and
wise words these would be if
conditions facingouryoung folks
todaywere thesameas theywere
a generation ago.
Amultiplication of interests,
and enormous expansion of
entertainment, a magic facility
for transportation have brought
complications into the lives of
ourboysandgirls. Hewho trusts
them solely to the undirected
regimeof thesimpledaysbefore
the movies, the modern dance,
thenew liquor problems and the
motor car will doubtless come
to the conclusion somemorning
that the whole world is going
to the dogs - - which isn’t the
case at all. Any disasters will
onlymean that there are a lot of
indifferent adults that have tobe
painfully taught that the world
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