Commodore Steve Harris – March, 2017
Just over a year ago, on February 11, 2016, I proposed to the Board of Governors that we rearrange some of the storage space upstairs and put in a “Library.” What I initially envisioned was a relatively small room with a table for small meetings, maybe a small sitting area for reading, and, most importantly to me at the time, storage for our history archives. What we got… WOW!
So many members and friends of the Club stepped up, volunteered, donated money and memorabilia, and came up with even more ideas for how we could better utilize the space upstairs. We officially dedicated the Library last September, but the project was far from completion. In the intervening months, we have now also finished the new Cupola Room. It’s been a lot of fun but, most importantly, it’s been great to have so many members involved in the project. BLYC is, and always has been, a member club and our membership today has that same enthusiasm and volunteer spirit that got BLYC going over 110 years ago.
Now, I must confess that the idea of a space upstairs where we could archive and display BLYC history was not mine. I stole it! And the man who’s idea it actually was may very well be the one person to whom we owe the most for this new addition to the Clubhouse. It was his vision!
When he became the Club Historian in 1985, P/C Frank Foster, III wrote in the Log how he wished to create a permanent BLYC historical display. His efforts have produced wonderful exhibits throughout the Clubhouse that, unfortunately, we too often walk by without giving much notice – the pictures in the entryway of members, the Club, and the lake area in the early years, the photos of BLYC assisting with rescue efforts in the 1937 Portsmouth flood, and much more. Throughout his decades as Club Historian, his stories have taught us about how the Clubhouse came to be, given us the history behind the entryway photo that is probably a favorite of many – the “Bang and Go Back Race” – explained why our bar area is referred to as “Gob’s Mess,” regaled us with stories of our early members and activities, and finally deciphered what the heck a “Tar Social” was. Frank is an interesting fellow with great knowledge, varied interests, and a complex personality. The one aspect of Frank that I love the most, however, is that he is a PACK RAT! If it weren’t for him, a very large amount of BLYC History would have been lost! The sheer volume of documents, photos, and memorabilia that he has collected over the years is astonishing. I can spend the rest of my time at the Club with my scanner and my laptop and perhaps never fully catalog and digitally archive them all! Over the years, I have heard him discuss how we could have a “lounge” upstairs where members could relax, surrounded by our rich BLYC history. Now we have it! Centered around the greatest architectural feature of this 104 year old building – the Cupola – and surrounded by BLYC history on all sides, we held our first official event in the new space – a “Grand Opening” – just this past week.
On behalf of the entire Club, and from me personally, as perhaps the most direct beneficiary of your efforts,
THANK YOU FRANK!
For your vision, your dedication, and your love of BLYC. We all owe you a huge debt of gratitude!