The Early Days
In October 1958, as Lake Lanier was still filling with water, five men sat on the steps near the ice storage house at Holiday Marina discussing the advantages of sailing on the lake. These five, Vernon Pickering, Spotswood Parker, Jack Beachem, Howard Klemmesten and Rand Rauton, decided to organize the Lake Lanier Sailing Club.
Advertisements for interested parties were placed in the newspaper and organization l meetings were held. Dues were $1.00 a month with an initiation fee of $30.00. LLSC was incorporated on January 7, 1959. The first Commodore was Vernon Pickering, who was reelected the following year. By the end of the first season, there were about forty members and a variety of boats. Thanks to the generosity of Jack Beachem, a section of land was set aside at Holiday Marina for our use. We poured a launching ramp and erected a small construction shed near the boat repair shop. This served as our "Club House" for two years.
In June of 1959, LLSC held its first regatta. Jack Beachem aided us again by clearing out the boat repair shop for boat registration and meals. Fifty-four boats participated in the regatta and drifted on a hot, placid lake the entire weekend. Nevertheless, the food and fellowship were excellent, the beer plentiful and the regatta a huge success.
As our membership grew, it became necessary to find larger, permanent quarters. We were fortunate in finding the ideal site on which we are located. This land comprises of 17 acres and encompasses approximately 50 acres with the inclusion of the government lease land surrounding it. It was purchased from P&B realty in February 1960 for $50,000 with a $25 down payment. This acreage was a veritable forest with only an old logging road for an entrance. Poverty necessitated courage and industry; so members, including their wives and children, gathered every weekend to chop, drag and burn tress until the boat storage area was cleared. A tractor was brought in to clear stumps and smooth dirt in order to gravel the area and pour a launching ramp. The 100 foot dock we built while at Holiday was towed up the lake and moored to the left of the ramp. The Committee Barge, which had been one of our first purchases, was moved along with our other possession, the construction shed-club house.
Spring came, Commissioning came and the rain came - in torrents. The Flag Officers, attired in sundry mud-splattered casual wear, gathered around the flagpole, which originally stood on the hilltop where the water storage tanks are now and proclaimed the season officially open. One of our club member-restaurateurs cooked a delicious fried chicken dinner on an army field kitchenette stove, under the cover of a six foot tarpaulin. We had to eat in our cars to keep dry.
The Thistlers agreed to host the Districts in July 1960. Thirty-three boats were expected and we were faced with the necessity of building some bathrooms. In five weekends of scorching heat and sweat, the members dug a hole for a septic tank, erected a concreted block building, installed two toilets and a sink on each side of the dividing pavilion, painted and completed the job at the zero hour. The Race Committee storehouse was built at the same time for use as a pump house.
In 1961, LLSC was commissioned under another cloudburst. This time, however, we remained comparatively dry as we dined under a leaky, used army surplus tent, purchased for $200.00. Later this tent was the scene of some superb lobster dinners that were flown in from Maine.
Time and weather taking their toll on the tent, the Club decided to build a pavilion, the nucleus of our present one. A 40x60 foot floor was poured and a metal roof was supported by steel columns. That winter, the fireplace and grills were added. The following spring, plastic screening was added around the four sides. It was an eyesore, but served its purpose until Stokes Tomlin (1967) called forth the Club work force to build a good part of the pavilion and heads we have today.
Commodore Don Anguish (1965) asked Georgia Dennis to organize the Ladies' Auxiliary. The women planted flowers and trees, then held white elephant sales, bingo parties and sold candy to raise money. They catered dinners when there was no kitchen because privately catered dinners were too expensive. Later, the construction shed was moved behind the pavilion and furnished with all the second-hand equipment the ladies could find.
As it was not feasible to prepare meals for r250+, Peter Smith (1970) saw the need for better facilities, so one of the most colossal work parties ever tore out walls and added a kitchen and serving wing.
In 1966, we were still without a potable water supply. Commodore Clyde Woollen had a hole drilled 450 feet into the hilltop, only to discover that the Club sat on a foundation of solid rock. Authorities were brought in and water was finally located in the cove area near our northeast property line. The pump house and storage tank were erected with another tank added in later years.
The Junior Fleet was formed in 1968 to teach and promote sailing in the 10-18 year age group. In the summer of 1971, Commodore Ray Burke founded Junior Sailing Week, with excellent results. We are proud of the outstanding Juniors who have represented the Club in the Sears and O'Day finals since then.
LLSC, from its origin through its first nine years, was truly a member built association. Members cleared the land and built the roads, docks, pavilion, heads, etc., whenever enough money could be scraped together for an improvement. It was 1967 before they felt they could afford to float a loan to buy the materials to improve the pavilion and enlarge the heads. The kitchen additions in 1970 could be afforded only if the members did the actual building themselves. Only now that the mortgage has been paid and the membership quota filled, can the work parties be a part of the Club's history, never to be forgotten by those who participated in them.
Over the years, we have seen the camp area change from a hovel with tents everywhere to a Corps of Engineers approved campground. Many former campers have built homes in the Cabin Colony. We now have a permanent kitchen and some long-awaited heads at the pavilion. We have come a long way and we are proud.
Many of our Commodores have gone unmentioned, as have a multitude of members, but all of them contributed a great deal of time, energy and thought toward making LLSC the successful organization it is today.
By Lynn Pickering, Charter Member 1959