Monday, January 4, 2016

Reedies Run Bayocean in 1921

During the summer of 1921 Bayocean resort facilities were leased and operated by Reed College students John Van Etten, James Hamilton, and James Gantenbein. They employed more than twenty fellow Reedies to help out. It took them six weeks to get everything ready for the July 2 opening. 

Unidentified Reedies operate the light plant (left) and cut wood (right).  3.5 chords of
 wood was required daily to fire the natatorium boiler.
Oregon Journal 9.4.1921
Bayocean Park had been taken over by court-appointed receivers in 1915. Six years into it, they were finding out that running a resort profitably was difficult. Deferred maintenance was the result. The natatorium boiler was especially hard to keep running, but Reedies Craig Eliot and Harold Robinson got it going. Regular vacationers complimented the Reedies for providing the best experience in years, and it appears to have been the busiest as well. (Oregon Journal articles of July 2,3, 9, and 24). 

Some of this success may be attributed to a letter dated June 22 (in my collection) that James Hamilton mailed "To the Teachers of Oregon" in which he makes assurances that the students' "youthful energy, efficiency and ingenuity" would be accompanied by "every effort...to quell any distrust of college ability that may exist." In case the prospect of being catered to by Reedies wasn't enough to entice teachers, he offered them a 10% discount. 


Reed graduate George Henny returned from his first year of electrical engineering studies at Thorpe College in California to set up a radio station. He planned to send daily reports to a receiving station in Portland. Unfortunately, on July 25, a telephone pole he had climbed to run lines fell over, and a piece of it fractured Henny's skull . When Bay City physician Dr. Boals saw Henny's condition he telegraphed Dr. A.E. Rockey in Portland, who reportedly drove 112 miles in just four hours (remarkable given the condition of the roads and automobiles of that era) to operate successfully on Henny the next day. (Tillamook Herald articles of June 30 and July 28). The experience must have made quite an impression on Henny, because he changed his career path and became a physician. (Reed College Bulletin, April 1936)

Mark Kuestner and others at Reed College's Special Collections were kind enough to provide documents that list other Reedies who participated in the management of Bayocean during 1921. They were Carl Larson, Grace (Linklater, maiden) Stone, Alvin Pearson, Ruth Linklater, Herman Kehrli, Helen (Pippy) Kehrli, and Jean (Pugsley) Eliot. Given the apparent success of the event, its interesting that it was never repeated.   

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