The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

Fayette park plan, 1941

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

fayparkplan.jpgThere was a time in the early 1940s when some big plans were made for Fayette’s park.

The drawing of the layout carries this title: “Expansion Program, Normal Parks & Recreation Centre, Fayette, Ohio, 1941.”

The origin of the plan is probably lost in history. Tom Spiess made a copy of the document owned by the late Vivien Ford, and he recalls her saying that it was drawn by a man from Michigan State or the University of Michigan.

Picnic tables were to be scattered throughout Normal Grove and a cooking oven was to be set up.

The east side of the Grove is marked as “wild shrubbery,” and older Fayette residents remember the entire area as a thick, unkempt woodlot filled with brambles.

The Grove wasn’t opened up to its present state until many years later. Woody Hibbard remembers school kids running into the woods during recess to gather beechnuts. The little nuts would be taken back to the classroom and chewed—at least until the teacher put an end to it.

The 1941 plan offered recreational opportunities for a broad segment of the community. Starting from the west side, the plan called for a pair of shuffleboard courts and horseshoe pits.

Next comes a handball court, then a larger area for tennis and S.K.A.T.I.N.G. (spelled with periods after each letter).

Five playing areas came next: roque, croquet, basketball, badminton and volleyball.

That first game might raise an eyebrow or two. What is roque?

The game is described as an American variant of croquet. Remove the “c” and the “t” from croquet and you’re left with roque.

Backyard croquet players push wickets or arches into the grass to create a course. Roque was played on a surface of hard sand or clay, with the arches set permanently in place. A wall surrounded the court so balls would carom back into play.

Roque has faded from the American landscape, but in 1904, the game replaced croquet in the Olympics.

The park plan shows a Legion Memorial with a flag pole east of the playing courts, near the present location of the swimming pool.

A drive was to encircle the old water pumping station and the area included a five-hole practice golf course. The distances between holes are listed at 70 yards, 58 yards, 64 yards, 85 yards and 48 yards.

The Russell Gardens are laid out near the pump house, but perhaps no one knows who Russell was?

Trees were to be planted along the top of the ridge south of the school parking lot. Ball fields and a running track were to be built in the low area east of Eagle Street.

The plan was a comprehensive one, but apparently few funds were ever directed toward construction. Eventually, a tennis court was built close to where the plan suggested, in conjunction with the local Grange, and the running track and new ball diamonds were constructed.

When Woody Hibbard was in high school, baseball was played in the southwest corner of the existing park, where the running track is now located. There wasn’t much hope of catching a foul ball down the first base line, he said, not with Spring Creek running along the edge of the field.

The land beyond the outfield was once a swampy area, but Kathy Fix reports that Joe Marks was hired in the late 1930s to haul in soil and level the ground.

That made it easier to chase long balls, like the one smacked by a kid from Archbold with the last name of Slaughter.

He was known as a super athlete, Woody says, and the day he sent the ball flying out toward the Grove, it looked like Slaughter had a sure home run.

Fayette outfielder Ivan Ford chased it down and whipped the ball toward home plate. The throw was a one-hopper that came right to Woody’s catcher’s mitt.

Slaughter, who had been taking his time rounding the bases, slid into Woody’s mitt and was called out.

He got up wondering where that ball came from.

Woody left town for a few years—World War II and a job in North Carolina—and when he moved back home, the park had changed. The Grove was cleaned out and kids were playing ball on a new diamond.

There was no place for badminton and roquet, and the little golf course was still only a design drawn on paper.

Fifty years later, the Grove features a shelter house, picnic tables and playground equipment. Three ball diamonds are in use, while the swimming pool, shuffleboard courts and tennis courts are not.

Maintenance and upgrades are scheduled at the park as funds permit, but the grandeur of the 1941 proposal isn’t likely to ever be seen.

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