Way back in 1957, the concept of a swim club in the area was a gleam in the eyes of a handful of people living in the Willow Manor and Sunnycrest developments. Instantaneously, the idea caught fire and the nucleus was expanded to include all areas within a reasonable radius. The name of the organization, Sunny Willow Swim Club, was a unanimous decision – shortening of the two areas wherein the idea was conceived – Sunnycrest and Willow Manor. In the two years preceding our opening in 1959, the founding fathers spent many long and arduous hours, seeking a ground sight, canvassing for prospective members, obtaining bids for building, clearing legal entanglements, drafting a Constitution and By-Laws, Rules and Regulations for operating, etc. The midnight oil burned week after week, utilizing the various expertise of these dedicated people. Services of all kinds were rendered gratis, including legal fees, architectural drafting, secretarial, printing, etc. Furnishings for the office and other areas were also donated. All this is indicative of the dedication of the many people involved in the creation of our club. The first 15 member Board of Directors was elected in April 1958, and served until the first annual meeting after the opening of the pool.
In August, 1958, the Upper Dublin Commissioners approved the purchase of our 8 acre wooded tract from Louis and Angelina Pettaluga for the sum of $27,959.09. By this time we had enrolled our full compliment of 350 families, all of whom were paying $13.00 per month to designated appointed people, toward the purchase of their bond. Most of them had invested in the concept long before our ground purchase, relying solely on the integrity of the founding fathers. Most of these charter members were families with young children and newly purchased homes which is why the system of payment was devised to ease the financial burden and allow everyone who so desired to become part of the organization.
In November, 1958, a contract was signed with Neptune Pool Enterprises for construction of our two pools at a cost of $34,100.00. Subsequently contracts were signed for constructing buildings, fencing, equipment , and electrical needs. School Lane, all adjacent homes, and the Thomas Fitzwater School were nonexistent. Our right of way to our acreage was by means of a 30’ wide dirt road from North Hills Avenue which was the cause of many flat tires. It was not until August, 1961 when we sold our road to Upper Dublin School board for access to the planned Thomas Fitzwater School, that School Lane became our means of ingress and egress.
1959 was a busy time for many of our charter members. Starting in early spring, families would gather at the pool site, clearing debris, cutting trees and bushes, in preparation for sodding and in fact, doing everything and anything necessary to make our present pool site a place of joy and comfort. The female contingent provided hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches, beverages, etc. so that those physically involved could continue their labor of love. Again, these services were gratis.
Preparation for the opening now loomed as a reality. However, a final snag gave us quite a jolt. Initially we planned to operate from two deep wells on our property, but when they ran dry we converted to our public rates hook-up. Unfortunately the water was not purified sufficiently to permit pool usage on opening day but the site of a finished product, so beautiful in its natural setting, lit up the hearts of the hundreds present on that glorious day.
Saturday, June 6, 1959, was the official opening day at which there was a ribbon cutting ceremony and blessing of the pool. Even though swimming was prohibited, some big splashes occurred at the close of ceremonies when all fifteen board members were unceremoniously tossed into the pool, fully clothed, thus giving credence to the fact that Sunny Willow was an actuality. Dedication was on Sunday, June 14, 1959, at 2:00pm at which there was a representation from the Upper Dublin Commissioners and local clergy. Swimming and diving performances were rendered by representatives from Manorlu, Oreland, Valley Club and Abington High School.
To finance our operation the first two years, we negotiated loans with the Bank of Old York Road in the spring of 1959 and fall of 1960 for $15,000.00 and $2,000.00 respectively, both which were repaid in 6 months.
Compiled by Clara H Bradshaw, Secretary (1984)
Some excerpts from an early 1960’s Meeting Minutes – Gerry Davis