Memories of Holt Lake, Part 2
Bobby and Thel Hooks play on the shore at Holt Lake in 1949. Notice the boat houses on the opposite shore. Lakeside accommodations were simple, even spartan, back in those days. (Photo provided by Warren Grimes)
Johnny Ward recalls lake play in the '50s and '60s:
the "big float," the "diving tree," and motor boats
Gary Ridout has been compiling personal memories for a number of years now for a newsletter he produces for present-day Holt Lake residents. We're sharing selected samples each month with readers of the Sun. Here are excerpts from Gary's interview with Johnny Ward (Smithfield High School Class of 1965), conducted in December 2017:
Back in the 1950s my mother and my grandmother would drive my brother (Watts) and me to the Holt Lake Pavilion and drop us off so we could swim. We swam all over Holt Lake when we were children and teenagers. Out from the pavilion was what they called the “little float.” There was also a “big float” in deeper water. When I was very young, a guy named Jerry Grantham would carry me on his shoulders out to the big float. This was a big thing for me to go out there with him....
was a rope that ran in front of the floats. This
rope was placed there for safety purposes to keep
the boats and swimmers separated. In those days the
lake was filled with boats and the dance hall was
filled with people dancing and listening to the juke
box each Sunday. On the grounds across from the
Pavilion were picnic tables where church group
dinners and family reunions were held.
the area where Mark McMillan now lives there was a
row of "shotgun" houses. These houses were very
think they each had about 800 square feet of floor
space. A gentleman named Luke Capps owned one of the
houses and would rent it to us. Our family would
rent a house in the summer. It would cost $20 to
rent the house for the week.
boats were very popular on Holt Lake in the early
people had Johnson or Evinrude outboard motors on
their boats. Some
people used an Elgin motor. George Brannan
represented another brand of outboard motor. He was
a sales representative for Scott Atwater outboard
those days you could rent a locker for $5 for the
whole summer. You would pay the admission and get a
little pin to put on your bathing suit to show that
you were a legitimate swimmer.
Lake was a very popular spot for Smithfield High
School students to have their pictures taken for the
yearbook. The students who had earned "superlative"
recognition such as “Most Popular” would get their
pictures taken near the lake or at the old mill near
the dam (pictured above)....