Judge Howard Dodd served as the Club’s first Commodore and his brother, Dr. Raymond Dodd its first Race Chairman. But then, as now, there were Vice Commodores and Rear Commodores and Secretaries and Treasurers and Membership Committees working in support of the program. Clearly it is impossible to identify the smallest fraction of their number. Equally clear is the fact that it doesn’t really matter; the service was rendered for the betterment of the Club and the emerging community of Groton Long Point, not for personal acclaim. The Club’s keystone was Voluntary service and the founding group established a standard, an ethic. which prevails to this day.
Two other names stand out for their important contribution in the early years, Harold “Jerry” Duryea and Sid Burr. The former succeeded Judge Dodd as commodore around the turn of the decade and served until 1948. Jerry Duryea was a big, garrulous and friendly man in whose presence children were immediately at case. We all knew him, and he seemed to know each of us. “Hello, Mr. Duryea” always brought a friendly response and a pat on the head. Sid Burr, a teacher at Springfield College, was equally friendly and popular.
The activities and events Mr. Duryea and Mr. Burr and their associates created for GLP’s kids seemed endless. Model sailboat races were organized, starting at Burr’s dock to somewhere across the lagoon, wherever they landed. Sinkings were frequent and it required the wisdom of Solomon, sometimes, to decide upon a winner, but, invariably, everyone went home happy. Rowing races in Babcock’s 12′, heavy wooden rowboats, borrowed for the occasion, proved to be a monthly highlight. Large crowds turned out to watch the rowers, who were grouped by age, as they struggled to move those behemoths across the Lagoon, again from Burr’s dock. (Each rowboat would be steadied in position by a volunteer standing in the water. When Sid blew his whistle, it was hands off and Row! It was always helpful if one’s brother was your “steadier” because no one seemed to notice his little shove in the midst of all the commotion.)
One “Field Day” each month was organized including the Sack Race, the Three Legged Race, the Long Jump, the Backward Race, the Four Legged Race, (backward on hands and feet … falling down allowed), the Softball Throw, the Shot put (for the bigger kids. Little kids couldn’t get it beyond their toes), The monthly “Swim Meet” was held, again located at Burr’s dock. Proper rope lanes floated parallel to the shore. Taller kids were placed in the outer lanes so they couldn’t touch the bottom, while the smaller ones were located nearer the shore. There was always the shouting from crowds of parents and friends. Each event always had volunteer judges and timers (none of which were ever recorded… but it looked impressive). Finally, there were wave after wave of swimmers, demonstrating all the strokes. Who could forget the Doggypaddle race and the Floating contests. The Long Distance race was just that. The swim began from the raft off the Main Beach into the Lagoon finishing at Sellas’s dock, drew only the hardy. There was nothing like it. These Friday afternoon traditions continue to be as popular today for the youth of GLPYC. A full afternoon was enjoyed even without T.V.