Roeding Park, 1965. Jim and Dan in front.
Gary and I stopped by Boland Park last evening to drop off some cookies for the family fun event sponsored by the Caddo Community Association. As I looked around at the families gathering and the children playing I was struck by how blessed Caddo is to have a park. There are many small towns that no longer maintain a place for picnics and play time, but of course Caddo has always been a community of hope and vision. Boland Park was the dream of the Lion’s Club when Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church was scheduled for demolition in 1979. The park, named after Judge Boland, became a reality, but restoration of the church he was instrumental in constructing, did not.
The first mention I’ve found of a park in Caddo was in 1900 when the surveyor arrived to plat the town. The editor of The Caddo Herald notes “the park in the west part of town will be taken in by the survey”. The incorporated townsite included “ten acres for the park”.
Caddo’s largest park was created for the annual Corn Carnival. After two successful years in rented property, the carnival committee purchased twenty acres and erected exhibit halls, a pavilion, and bleachers. They also created a baseball field and a quarter-mile race track. The park was used from 1911 to 1917. It was sold in 1920.
In 1924 the ladies of the Civic Club, assisted by the Lion’s Club, opened a park “in the grove west of the depot”. It had benches and tables, a playground for the children and a “shower bath” for tourists. The dedication of the park on June 27 was attended by nearly a thousand people. The women of the Methodist Church sold sandwiches, cake, and ice cream and made $35. They donated $10 of that to the Lion’s Club. I don’t know what happened to the park. It’s mentioned in the newspaper a few times. In 1925 the Lion’s Club held a community egg hunt there.
Much of my early childhood was spent in Roeding Park in Fresno, CA. We usually had a large yard or open field to play in and trees to climb at home. Sometimes we even had our own swing set. But my parents loved the park with its large playground, small amusement park, duck pond, and picnic tables. We spent many lovely hours at the park with my grandparents and other family members. Later, Gary and I took our children to the same park. I suppose that’s part of the appeal of a park- no matter where you move to you can go back to a familiar location for picnics and play time.
I’m thankful to see Caddo children playing in a park that will hopefully still be in use when their children are old enough to enjoy it!