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The Start of Haddon Glen Swim Club by Gordon Beckhart (one of the founders)
In the late 50's before thick hedges and chain link fences separated neighbor from neighbor along Sycamore Street we would gather for cook outs, car fixing, checking out new babies, boy friends, or simply random chatting.
This day was more special than most. During a midsummer heat wave, the Beckhart, Zernouski, and Saulsbery families were having a joint cookout. Cool drinks and foods were on the table, the kids were in and out of a shallow plastic pool. Often the adult conversation was about the delights of the Jersey Shore. Especially taking a dip in the cool, crowded but distant ocean.
The thread of conversation repeatedly went like this -- it would be blissful swimming at the shore. However it would take an hour or two in heavy bumper to bumper traffic to get there. Then find a place to park the car, find a place to park your body on the sand, jump in the water, stand in line for an expensive ice cream already dripping in the heat. Another dreary hour or two sweating in bumper to bumper traffic driving home. Final shower to cool off again.
To avoid that hassle I suggested building our own swim club. Genevieve Zernouski responded with peals of gay laughter. It was a laugh that said, "You think YOU could build a swim club here in Haddon Heights?". At that moment I vowed I would show her. Come hell or high water I would get it built.
Despite Genevieve's laughter each family pitched in $10 to get the project started. Frankly I think her laugh challenged all three husbands to get started. We were so optimistic, naive, and desperate to swim in Haddon Heights!
Thus began several years of intense, frustrating, yet ultimately rewarding effort for the three families at the picnic table. As well as the families who joined us. The first meetings were in my living room.
Before long we had a team of willing helpers Harold Mackway, Goodman, Norm Kellaway, membership chairperson, Mrs. Friedman wrote the bylaws, Don Meldrum, Don Moore, (Fill in other names as I remember them).
Tina, The Zernouski's youngest child suggested we name it Haddon Glen.
Persuading families to contribute $300 each to achieve our dream was slow going. We had figured the total cost and set our membership goal to raise that amount of cash.
Found a lawyer, Al Driver, who never charged us for his efforts to incorporate as a nonprofit enterprise, for advice, or defending us in court. Found an architect.
Looked for land. Found contiguous plots of land owned by a Mr. Lafferty who also owned most of the land in Cherry Hill.
Called Mr. Lafferty. We agreed to meet. I rode my bike to the location, eventually a Cadillac drove up. Out stepped a short, stocky, bare foot man in tattered blue jeans. It was the multi-millionaire Mr. Lafferty Himself. He named a favorable price. The board agreed.
We bought land. Architect's engineer told us to test if the soil was suitable for pool construction.
Test consisted of hitting standard pole with a standard blow using a standard sledge hammer and counting blows required to sink standard pole into soil. Incredibly in our test a single blow by Harold Mackway made the pole quiver and disappear into the mucky soil. Engineer said you cannot build here! So there we were stuck with land we could not use.
I sat on the grassy embarkment of route 295 which bordered out property wondering what to do. Could we get our money back? Eventually I notice the highway was cut through the same stratum of soil that could not hold a pool! Called highway department to learn the secret of why heavy tractor trailers were not sinking into the muck of the road cut. No secret, the water and the pool weigh less than soil excavated from pool site. The pool basically floats! Some engineers read too many text books and lack common sense.
Volunteers cleared the land of brush. A.J. May and his buddy were skilled woods men and trimmed the high tree branches.Also they were RCA audio specialists.
Evenutally accumulated enough money to contract, all within budget, contruction of 3 pools, a baby pool, diving well, and main pool, each with independant filtration systems!
Dug well to save on water costs. I tested water for purity by drinking it. Didn't die so OK'ed it for use. Installed a snack bar, play, and picnic areas.
Finally bought the land for the parking lot, which was owned by a branch of the lafferty family living in Medford. This lot was piled high with tree stumps dumped there by the borough of Haddon Heights. The dry stumps made a long lasting fire that smoldered a week or more.
Burned mortgage about two years after opening the pool.
Must tell you about a minor fiasco! We wanted to be good citizens and raise money for the town library. Thought a fishing contest would raise money. After club closed for the first season, we put big trout on the main pool and small trout in diving well for spear fishing. First two contestants for fly fishing caught one trout each. Rest of the day none were caught! Lesson --- Some fish may be smarter than people, but although the families starting at the club endured several years of slow accomplishment we eventually were rewarded by opening a great swim club that folks have enjoed for over 50 years.