Crandall Park — Getting the rink open in 1923

D.L. Robertson, president of the Glens Falls Recreation Commission, knew how to turn a critic into an ally.

“We Glens Falls people are like the Deep Sea Fishermen. We have colds and the disastrous results of colds,” the Rev. Charles O. Judkins, wrote in a letter to the editor, published Jan. 4, 1923 in The Post-Star.

Judkins, pastor of Christ Church Methodist, was upset that the Recreation Commission had procrastinated in developing an ice skating rink at Crandall Park after an opera charity performance the previous summer raised money for it.

Judkins reasoned that outdoor exercise, such as skating in the park, would help prevent colds.

“The little Crandall skating pond is a possible agency for building up the health and strength of hundreds of children during our winter season,” Judkins wrote. “I personally hope that the Commission will at once mend its ways and make that little pond into a delightful skating rink for the sake of the health and strength of our little ones and the consequent comfort of us all.”

Robertson responded in a letter to the editor the next day that the recreation fund had a deficit when the current commission members took office in April.

The city Common Council did not release new funds until October, and there was a backlog of routine maintenance to get done before work could begin on the skating rink.

“Considerable time and money were spent by a few members of the commission, as it was difficult to get people who would work and spend time assisting,” Robertson spoke.

“It gives me great pleasure to advise the community that I hereby appoint the Rev. Dr. Charles O. Judkins a member of the committee on winter sports. … The committee will be glad of his energetic assistance and thank him for his interest.”

Judkins accepted the appointment, and, as the saying goes, many hands made light work.

The next day The Post-Star reported that the commission had hired a man to take charge of clearing snow from the pond and preparing the ice for skating.

“The ice has been scraped and it is probable that the surface will be flooded and allowed to freeze again before the ice will be in the good condition which the commissioners want it in,” The Post-Star reported on Jan.6.

“Also work is going rapidly forward on the matter of lighting. The rink will be illuminated so that evening skating will be possible, and there will also be illumination in the neighborhood of skating, so that the sports folk will have an easier time putting on and removing their skates.”

There was a plan to convert a hut on the north end of the pond into a bathroom facility.

The next day the rink was ready for a trial run.

“There was skating yesterday on the City Rink at Crandall Park,” The Post-Star reported on Jan. 8. “It was not the smoothest in the world, but it was all that could be asked under the circumstances. The frequent snow falls of the past few days have been embarrassing for the people who are clearing the ice.”

The rink quickly became a popular place.

“The rink is extremely popular nowadays, and in the early afternoons and evenings is a mecca for hundreds of sportsmen and sportswomen, both from this city and from the neighboring towns,” The Post-Star reported on Jan. 29.

Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY