CUBA CITY—Stories of the Kool-aid stands, corn sales and circus acts that raised money for the Cuba City pool fund in the 1950s and 60s kept a crowd of more than 80 entertained at Sunday’s dedication ceremony of the Splinter Park sports complex.
The fundraising began in July 1955 when it became apparent that the 130 “kiddies” from Cuba City couldn’t be accommodated at the Platteville pool. Florence Kilkelly formed a teenage recreational committee to raise the money to build a swimming pool in Cuba City. The pool was estimated to cost $30,000-40,000.
Fundraisers included dances, costume party, pasty supper, Kool-Aid sales, donkey baseball game, car washes, bake sales, neighborhood acrobatic shows, Cuba City Community Band, ladies bridge club, neighborhood circuses and business and organization donations.
“It was a great effort of that time,” John Van De Wiel, presenter at the dedication ceremony, said.
Many stories were shared throughout the event.
“Mike Runde and I were told that some were selling corn around town,” Steve Edge told the crowd. “The only thing I can remember about selling corn is that they would let us get up in the trucks and throw out all of the corn that was left in after they dumped it at the canning factory. We weren’t getting enough money at that, so we got the bright idea that we would take our wagons and go out to the fields by the canning factory and load our wagons up to bring it back and sell corn. We put wagons on the back of our bikes and rode our bikes out to the field, then come back to town and go door-to-door selling corn. We made some money at it. My dad, about two weeks later, says to me, ‘I hear you were selling corn.’ I said yeah. He asked where we got it. I told him we got it from the field out there. He told me it was stealing and I couldn’t do that. I told him we weren’t getting enough corn out of the trucks. He said the next time we do it to ask the people, but also make sure we get sweet corn, don’t use field corn.”
Ruth Ann Summers and Janette Vail read a total of seven letters with stories to share with the group. The letters expressed their thanks for the city finally fulfilling a use for the money the children raised.
Van De Wiel said New Glarus and Darlington tried to raise money for a community pool at about the same time.
“They were able to get a referendum and got their pools built,” Van De Wiel said. “Cuba City went to a referendum in April 1957 and it was defeated. There was about a year-and-a-half of everybody working on it, so we felt pretty defeated.”
In February 1960, the fund totaled $4,139.07, which was put into an account at Cuba City State Bank with the only stipulation that the money be used for a swimming pool in Cuba City.
In April 2006, the fund had grown to over $80,000 with no additional money, except the interest, applied to the fund. At that time, the city council approved using the fund for recreational purposes. A committee was formed and, in May 2015, the city council voted to create a multi-use sports complex at the tennis courts of Splinter Park.
A scrapbook of the newspaper clippings from the 61-year history of this project will be on display in the Cuba City Library for the next six months, then will be placed in the caboose with the other city history.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Betty Loeffelholz, chairwoman of the city’s parks and rec committee, said. “This complex is a very nice addition to Splinter Park.”
The ceremony included the unveiling of the new stone naming the complex the Splinter Park Sports Complex. The Kilkelly, Taber and Loomis families assisted in the unveiling. Approximately 80 people attended the event in Splinter Park.