We’ve said before that Constitution Park is one of our favorite things about Cumberland and one of its greatest assets. We undoubtedly will do so again.
If in the future some dimwit proposes to convert all or part of the park to housing or economic development purposes, we’ll take our turn on the picket line after having told our readers what a horse’s patoot (as Col. Potter on TV’s M*A*S*H used to word it) that person is.
This hasn’t happened yet — that we know of — but you never know what some self-appointed genius is going to come up with next. We seem to have an abundance of that type around here.
We could talk about great ideas that have been attempted, but turned out to be bad ideas that haven’t worked, but we already do that now and then.
If you’ve been paying attention and read what’s on our news pages, you already have figured out for yourself what some of them are.
Constitution Park and one particular aspect of what goes on there constitute a great idea that actually accomplished what it set out to do.
Summer Day Camp, which is sponsored by the Cumberland Parks and Recreation Department, is now in its final week of the year. It has provided several dozen youngsters ages 5 through 12 a number of worthwhile weekday activities for the last couple of months. (See: “Summer Day Camp program ... ,” Aug. 3 Times-News, Page 1A.)
This is a good deal for youngsters who participate in it — 75 of them, the day our reporter Brandon Glass was there.
It’s also a boon for the Frostburg State University education program’s students who work at the camp. They find out first-hand what it’s like to have a hand in shaping young lives.
University of Maryland Extension Allegany County provides help and teaches the day campers about health, nutrition and exercise (lessons that our observations lead us to believe would be beneficial for the fat, lazy, out-of-shape youngsters that seem to abound and their parents).
The park celebrated its 80th anniversary on June 25. It was established on 100 acres of land, 63 of which were donated to the city by Carl Richards and Carl Grabenstein in exchange for water and sewer service on a small parcel near the park entrance.
Constitution Park was named by West Side School seventh-grader Hume O. Annan Jr., who in 1937 submitted the winning entry in a name-the-park contest and received a $10 prize ($176.67 in today’s money).
The pool was built under the Works Progress Administration, another great idea that actually was a good idea because it gave hope and sustenance to tens of millions of Americans.
It was a labor program under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, which provided an estimated 10 million jobs during the Depression at a time when about 15 million people in the private sector were out of work.
Workers were transported around the country. Those who had families kept part of their pay and the rest was sent home to their loved ones, who in most cases had little or no other means of support.
The WPA built the football stadium, tennis courts and much of the surrounding grounds at Fort Hill High School. The school itself was built with the help of the Public Works Administration, another part of the New Deal that concentrated on public works projects such as dams, bridges, hospitals and schools.
Green Ridge State Forest in Allegany County and Herrington Manor, Swallow Falls and New Germany state parks and Savage River State Forest in Garrett County were projects of the Civilian Conservation Corps, another New Deal program.
A number of other New Deal work projects took place in Western Maryland and nearby West Virginia, including repairs and construction along the C&O Canal, a number of post offices, schools and other government buildings.
Most of them are still in use decades later.