History of Ridge Swim Club

submitted by Mrs. Margaret Kershner

Citizens in the community felt a need for a recreational facility suitable for family use. Eugenia Culwell came up with the idea to organize a private swimming pool club and planned a meeting with the citizens that had an interest in her idea. She held the first meeting on August 14, 1962 at the Culwell Medical Center. At this meeting Ms. Culwell was appointed as the president; Harold Anamosa of Damascus was appointed first vice-president; Robert Wagner of Mt. Airy, secretary; Grady Edwards of Mt. Airy was made treasurer; and H. S. Beck, Jr. of Mt. Airy was in charge of writing the by-laws. Henry Lach moved that each family present at the meeting be assessed $1.00, the $1.00 was collected and the treasury was started with $20.00.

Committees were formed which consisted of the following:

Publicity – Harrieton Merritt, Anna Belle Bittinger, Richard Smith, Virginia Condon, Robert Wagner

Building Committee – Ray Grimes

Grounds Committee – Kenneth Burdette, Mary Myers, Mildred Ridgley

Jack Steel offered to make posters and Virginia Condon offered to help with typing and publicity. H.S. Beck, Jr. was in charge of contacting legal authority regarding the need to incorporate.

It was estimated that $70,000 would be needed to purchase grounds and finance the construction of the pool. In order to raise enough funds they needed 350 families at $200/family.

At the second meeting on August 28, 1962, the first Vice President, Harold Anomosa resigned. The By-Laws were approved and noted the need to incorporate and Attorney Bowlus was to proceed as soon as possible. Also, there were committee appointments added:

Rules – Joseph Richards, Leroy Brown, Helen Beall

Membership Rules – Andrew Mason, Marge Morel

Membership Chairman – Dot Lowman

At the third meeting on September 18, 1962, Rules and Regulations were approved as amended. Grounds committee reviewed an aerial map of Mt. Airy and pointed out several possible sites for the pool. They also had to go before the Mayor and Town Council to see if town water could be used.

During the fourth meeting on October 2, 1962, membership certificates were selected and a printing order for 400 to be made when the organization became a corporatation. Burdette and committee reported the finding of a five-acre plot owned by E. L. “Pat” Beck and wife Louise. The land needed to be zoned commercial before proceeding. A right-of-way was granted by H. S. Beck, Jr., extending Beck Drive for the entrance to the pool. The cost for the land was $5,000 with $500 down and the balance within six months. When the final contract was written by Attorney Bowlus it was written with a nine month period in which to pay the balance.

The first news article appeared in the Community Reporter on October 12, 1962.

On February 26, 1963 the treasurer reported $1,998.14 in the treasury. A contract for the grounds had been signed and a water agreement was signed by President Culwell, Secretary Wagner, Pat Beck (land owner), Mayor Frank Horpel, and Councilmen Ralph Williar, Norman Etzler, Harry Clower, Jr., H. S. Beck, Jr., and Paul Beall, setting the terms to extend the water line to the pool area.

Ira Rigger, at the time the largest pool builders in the Baltimore area, were selected for the project. The membership list included twelve families at this time so they needed more memberships to be sold.

The first twelve families were:

Dr. & Mrs. William Culwell, Grady Edwards, Ray Grimes, H. S. Beck, Jr., Kenneth Burdette, Robert Wagner, Joseph Richards, Jack Boone, Lester Lowman, Ellis Leatherwood, Harry Nikirk, Leonard Sherman

The Community Reporter ran another article in the May 3rd edition publicizing the pool and information regarding membership and the charter closing on May 7th. After the closing of the charter there would be an initiation fee of $15 in addition to the $200.00 membership fee. Walter Brown, who became a charter member, was cashier of the Damascus Bank, and he offered the credit facilities of his office to get construction under way during the summer of 1963.

The May 17th edition of the Community Reporter stated the closing of the charter with 101 members. A letter of intent was given to Rigger Construction Company on May 9. Construction was to begin on June 1 with expectations of the members to be swimming by August 1. This was done with less than half the membership needed to fully fund the pool.

Eventually the membership was filled, the mortgage was paid and 41 years later we’re ready for a new pool.

The club was managed for 24 of the 41 years by Dale and Laurie Neeper, who were teachers in Harford County. They would rent a home in Mt. Airy every summer in order to be close to the Ridge. They provided the swimming lessons, water ballet lessons and diving lessons. Every summer Laurie would choreograph water ballet routines for different age groups and even the “DADs” group. She also designed the costumes for all the shows and the moms would make them. Members would line up at the door waiting to get in for the fun Family Nights at the pool. During their time at the pool they had a daughter, Angie, who they practically raised at the pool; she also became a swim instructor. We’ve had many wonderful managers for our pool, but because the Neepers were with us for so long they really became a part of every member’s family during those 24 years.

There have been many years of great memories at the Ridge and we hope to have many, many more!