Clubhouse Open All Winter – Snakehunters and Icebreakers

Commodore Steve Harris – January, 2019

open_all_winter_1938

The above article appeared in the Piqua Daily Call in September of 1937. Up until that time, BLYC would close up after the Annual Meeting in the Fall and, except for a few special winter events, remain so until spring. During the late 30’s however, activity at the Club and Buckeye Lake was back on the rise in a post-depression boom to the economy. The Club hired a full-time resident steward and meals were regularly available in “Gob’s Mess.”

To remain open all winter must have been a challenge though. Best that I can deduce from our history, the only way to heat the building at that time was the fireplace. Oil heaters were installed in the fall of 1947 to encourage more off-season activity but, in the winter of 1937-38, it must have been quite the job for the Club Steward to keep the building warm and inviting for the membership. Fortunately, it’s now a lot easier to enjoy our time at BLYC in the “off-season.”

I recall that when I first joined BLYC (about six decades later), throughout the winter months, the Club would hold monthly events referred to as “Ice-Breakers.” Generally, it was an evening of dining and entertainment, not unlike our “Supper Club” nights of today. I recently came across a bit of the history of these events and, given that we’re entering another “off-season,” thought it good to share.

The following article (slightly edited) appeared in the October, 1969 Log

Greetings: It is not often that a plain, ordinary member of B.L.Y.C. requests permission to write an article for publication in the Log. I certainly appreciate this opportunity which has been granted me by the Board of Governors and Flag Officers.

In the past several years, it has been customary for a group known as the “Snake-Hunters” to meet the first Friday of November and thereafter the first Friday of each month, through the month of May, for drinks, dinner, congeniality, and just plain gab-fests. We had a lot of fun!!! Remember how nice it was to sit back and watch that nice, big fire in the fireplace? It can happen again! We all know that the snakes have hibernated for the winter. I would like to start the “Ice Breaker Gang.” We need a group like this. Our club is not a summer club. It needs support the year round, all 12 months of the year, and only you, the Members and Officers, can make this possible.

During the winter months, the Club offers many advantages on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays – Ice boating, skate sailing, ice skating, trap shooting, hot soups and chili, and many more delicious items from the kitchen for your pleasure. Lots of fun and enjoyment for all.

Now all you Snake-Hunters, Sailors, Stink-Potters, Harbor Hillikens, Ice-Breakers, Officers… Let’s get together and make this a genuine year-round Club. Come out. Enjoy the fireplace, food, drinks, and just have fun. Support your Club!

Howard J. Glenn
Head Snake Hunter – Chief Ice Breaker

Sounds like good advice. While we don’t call our winter events Ice-Breakers any more, Mr. Glenn’s statements are just as correct today as they were nearly 50 years ago. The Club does have a lot to offer in the winter months. From our traditional holiday parties – Halloween, Christmas, Valentines Day, Mardi Gras, and St. Patty’s Day – to our more casual dining nights with entertainment, BLYC is a great place in the winter months. No doubt that Governor Hamilton and Vice Commodore Pyle are already planning some exciting, wonderful evenings for us this coming “off season.”

So what became of the Snakehunters?
It appears that the Snakehunters were orginally all BLYC members – likely those who lived here year-round and likely in the immediate vicinity of the Club. Why the group faded out at BLYC isn’t completely clear, but it was later re-organized by Northbank residents and includes both BLYC members and non-members alike. They still meet the first Friday of the month throughout the winter and maintain a close attachment to the Club, holding several of their functions with us.

But what the heck is a Snakehunter? It certainly seems like an odd name for a “dinner club.” Finding the exact origin or meaning of the word has proven quite difficult. I had always understood it to be a (possibly deragatory) term that referred to the people who lived in towns along the canal route in the 1800’s. Some sources even allude to such people as being the “less desirables” of the time. However, I recently came across a 1953 article from Indian Lake – also a canal reservoir – that suggests the term referred to “visitors and vacationers.” Again, possibly deragatory, but also distinguising them from those who lived year-round in the area. Maybe they were just people who actually hunted snakes?

Either way… Snake Hunter, Ice-Breaker, or just a regular BLYC member wanting to enjoy the winter months at the Club, I think that we should all make an effort to support the Club this winter and enjoy this “second season” at the lake!

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