100 years of splashes
They came for a swim, they came for the food and games, they came to see their family legacy.
Creston residents celebrated Sunday the 100th birthday of their pool, the oldest pool in Nebraska.
On hand was a special guest, the grandson of George Harry Morris, the man who got the pool party started a century ago.
George Morris, grandson of the late George Harry Morris, traveled to Creston from San Francisco, via Amtrack, with his family to help celebrate.
“My grandfather had written a book about his life for his family, and he described the building of this pool and his life out here,” George said.
“He moved to Nebraska when he was 10 years old. He spent his childhood here, and after a stint in the Army — he was in the Spanish-American War — he came back and went to medical school in Omaha, and then came back to Creston and practiced medicine.”
Morris’s five children were born in Creston, including Bob, who is George’s father, and, George said, “He (his grandfather) had three sisters living in California, and he would go to visit, and in 1917, 1918, there were a lot of public pools there, and he came back here and thought it would be a great idea if Creston had a public pool.”
Morris started raising money with a few other residents, and raised enough for cement, sand and gravel. They traded time with local farmers, George said. The farmers excavated the site for the pool, and in return, the other men worked the farms.
He said his grandfather’s version of the story is that land was leased for 25 years with an option to buy, but there is a version of the story that indicates the one acre was bought by George’s grandmother.
There wasn’t enough money to purchase metal reinforcement, so, according to the family history book, “Under the cover of darkness in the surrounding area they secured metal reinforcement material at a very reasonable price,” he said with a laugh.
George made the trek with his wife, Sandra; son, Robert and Michael; daughter-in-law Katharine; and granddaughter Cleo.
George said it was great to be back and celebrate what his grandfather started.
“I think it’s terrific. I’m so glad we came. This is our roots,” he said.
Morris later started a practice in Newman Grove with another physician, but in 1933, during the Great Depression, he moved his family to California, where he practiced medicine. He passed in 1954.
“He loved being a doctor,” George said.
Chad Settje, village chairman, said it was special having the Morris family help celebrate the pool.
“It was great they could come back from San Francisco. I hadn’t heard the story on how the pool was developed, so it was good to see them, and I had a good visit with George at the pool.”
The pool, which was the star of the party, was popular. At one point Sunday afternoon, 235 had signed in to swim. Not bad for a town of about 210 people.
“I never imagined having this many people in the pool. We have more in the pool today than we have in the whole town,” Settje said, adding there might be some people who didn’t signin, so the total could be higher.
He said the pool means a lot to Creston.
“Creston has always been a tight community to begin with, and this park has been a staple to the community. If we ever need something done for the pool or the park, volunteers are here to help fund an activity. We had to put a filter system in the pool, so we had to raise money for that. People are willing to give around here.”
Proceeds from Sunday’s event will go toward the park and pool for any future needs.
“Pools don’t make any money, so we just have to pay for any repairs or expenses throughout the year,” Settje said.