Log Cabin Chronicles

Two grannies

Digital Images © 1998 John Mahoney

To get the job done right
find two willing grannies


CEDARVILLE, QUEBEC | Sometimes, the quickest way to get a job done is to hand it off to a pair of determined grannies who don't know the meaning of the word "no."

Take Weir Memorial Park, for instance.

Weir Park

It's an inviting landscaped seven-acre site on the east shore of Lake Memphremagog, just a mile north of the U.S. border. You can laze in the shade with a cold one at hand and gaze south to Tea Table and Province Islands. If you could see around the bluffs some six miles away you could watch the cars crawl up Newport, Vermont's main street.

Which is okay if you're not a kid.

If you're a kid you can swim at Weir Park and you can run at Weir Park. And that's lots of fun. But the work of kids is play and part of that work consists of swinging, teeter-tottering, and creating fantasy worlds in sandboxes.

But not at Weir Park, they can't.

Three years ago the town of Ogden took over running the park from the Weir Foundation. Donated to the people of the border towns by the Weir family, the park had suffered from years of benign neglect.

Bill Smith Ogden council hired Bill Smith to oversee the park, along with the wharf and the boat-launching ramp bought from the federal government, and the new zebra mussel boat-washing station the town installed. Bill has mowed and cut and chopped and raked and groomed those seven acres for the past three summers to the point where it is a perfect jewel of a place for local folks in the summer. It is easy to understand his sense of pride and proprietorship in his summer workplace.

But the teeter-totters at Weir Park remain broken. And the swings are rusty and rotten and dangerous. And there aren't any sandboxes.

Well, there weren't any sandboxes until Saturday, August 22. That's when two local grannies with a lot of gumption took over.

"We wanted to see something here for the kids," says Joan Berwick of Fitch Bay, who has seven grandchildren. "I used to come here in the seventies with my kids, and now I bring my grandchildren."

On the previous Saturday Joan and Gwen Smith of Ogden -- her husand, Bill, is the town's park guy -- were lamenting the lack of adequate playground facilities for local children.

Okay, they agreed, we're tired of waiting. Let's do something about it.

Their first action was to set up a 50/50 raffle draw amongst the campers with a borrowed roll of tickets. They quickly netted nearly $50. Come the following Monday they began approaching local businesses and potential donors.

carpenter Within seven days they had raised more than $1000, lumber and sand for two sandboxes, a kiddie swing set, and all the skilled local volunteers needed to get the job done. (Landscaper Dean Jenkins frames up a sandbox. He was assisted by volunteers Arnold Thayer and Roy Smith.)

And this was without endless committee meetings of high-powered local notables, expensive consultation with professionals of any kind, and on and on, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

"We've got every penny written down," says Gwen, "and every penny of the money is going for the kids."

And that's the story of the two old grannies who got it together and got the job done.

Oh, yes...the sand truck is due this week.

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Copyright © 1998 John Mahoney/Log Cabin Chronicles/8.98