Bay Village’s Back-yard Playground

Location, location, location. The following two stories began with a lake at the back door.

Golf!!! It all began with Washington Lawrence, president of the National Carbon Company, purchasing three farms along the lake at the eastern border of Dover Township. Washington had seven daughters and six of them married men who enjoyed the new game called golf. He indulged his sons-in-law and developed the oldest golf course in Cuyahoga County and the State of Ohio.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Golf Played at Dover Bay Prior to 1895: Although not the first incorporated club in Cleveland, it is probable that the first golf was played where Dover Bay now stands.”

Golf Retold reported, “August 22, 1896: To anyone who has had the good fortune to be a guest at Dover Bay Park, it must seem astonishing that there are not more such places around Cleveland. Each family has a house of its own. The clubhouse makes a rallying place… It is certainly a community of clever people.”

In 1899, Chisholm Beach was the golf champion having won over Mr.’s Chase, Dodge, James, Matthews and Bourne.

Opening day, 1903, saw a reorganization, and a new name, Dover Bay Country Club. Public members were welcome. The golf pro was Alex Miller and the manager, Jack Quinlan. Members rented rooms in the club house for the summer season. For awhile, Mickey McBride, of the Cleveland Indians, owned the property. He sold it in 1956 for residential development. Union Carbide was interested in building their research laboratory on the property, but the city voted to keep Bay Village a city of homes.

In Bay Village, Lake Erie is our backyard playground. Hobo, Loafer, Restless and Bum – such names don’t usually find their way into a sailing story – but add to them Vagabond, Wanderer, Tramp and Roamer and attach them to eight home-made sailing dinghies, and you have the nucleus of the Bay Village Yacht Club, the youngest yachting organization in the area in 1940.

The Biloxi dinghies were owned by Bay High School boys with the names of Smith, Hruby, Sims, Asher, Sutliff, Miller, Nyerges and Brueggemann. The boys ranged in age from 13 to 18 years old.

All the boats were home-made either by the boys and their parents or Henry Wischmeyer. Henry was the caretaker of the old Wischmeyer Hotel on Lake Road. At times he needed workers to pick peaches and strong backs to cut down and haul away trees and brush. He would hire high school boys who lived on the streets near the hotel to do chores around his property, and they became friends.

Henry’s boat house, no longer in use, was offered to the boys as a yacht club to store their boats and equipment. Almost every day during the summer months, the boy’s boats could be seen catching the warm summer breezes off the Cahoon and Wischmeyer beaches.

World War II began the breakup of the sailing fleet as seven members joined the Navy, four on the same day. When the war ended, and the boys came home, they found they had different interests and the club disbanded.

The one thing that stayed constant was the lake which still pleasures us today.

Posted in Kay Laughlin, Lawrence, Rememberance.