The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Medford's Natatorium

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Medford Mail Tribune, June 10, 1956

    In the fall of 1909 [construction started in the spring of 1910], ten teams of horses [and] more than a score of men, with scoops known as fresnos, began breaking ground at 120 North Riverside, Medford.
    By June 23rd, 1910, a $200,000 edifice had been created--the largest and finest building of its kind in Southern Oregon--Merrick's ballroom. [The building was originally known as the Natatorium; Fred E. Merrick's name would not be attached until the early 1920s.]
    Early this week, two workmen started to tear down this building, a job that may take until May 15.
    In the forty-five years, the building had changed from the social center of the county to a little-used structure, a building that like an old man lived in its past glory; lived with its memories of the great events, of the famous people who had come and gone.
    As John G. Crawford, one of the building owners, put it: "Merrick's ballroom has reached the end of its economic life."
    One of the principal features of the new structure when it opened in 1910 was its huge swimming pool. It was 50 by 100 feet and held 50,000 gallons of water. In the winter the pool was boarded over and used for a roller rink.
    Emerson Merrick, son of one of the original owners of the building, once rented bathing suits, bloomers and stockings to the ladies who came there to swim.
    He recalls that stockings rented for ten cents a pair and that no woman would think of entering the pool without her stockings.
    The history of the evolution of the bathing suit in Merrick's is a part of the nation's history as far as women's fashions in bathing suits go.
    Merrick remembers when the first woman entered the pool without stockings--bare-legged.
    Other ladies whispered, and Medford gossiped about her.
    And then there were the girls who had trouble swimming in the skirted suits, with big bloomers and stockings. They were weighted down in an outfit that the modern girl wouldn't be caught drowned in. Some of those brave lassies, Merrick remembers, used to surreptitiously unbutton the skirts after they were in the pool. Of course, it left them heavily clad in big bloomers, but they giggled about their daring.
    Then one day came the advent of the one-piece bathing suit, and a brave young lady donned one and appeared in Merrick's pool. Tongues clacked far into the night, but a new era in women's wear had come, and Merrick's had made a little more local history.
    The late F. E. Merrick, H. C. Kentner, W. H. Brown and Jess Enyart pooled their funds to buy three acres of ground and start the building. Emerson Merrick said the investment was $225,000 which, for that day and age, was a major investment.
    In 1911, a depression hit the area and the building owners one by one dropped their active interest. Some left the valley, and it became pretty much a Merrick enterprise.
    There were all types of social events held in the big ballroom--92 by 108 feet-- and the little ballroom--35 by 65 feet. There were dances to such famous orchestras as Paul Whiteman, Jan Garber, Jack Teagarden and Phil Harris.
    Famous singers warbled there--Madame Ernestine Schumann-Heink, Luisa Tetrazzini, Nellie Melba--all were the toast of Medford and of Jackson County society generally.
    Peopled traveled for miles to the ballroom to hear the silver-tongued orator, William Jennings Bryan, who spoke there.
    The New York Symphony played there, and on the other extreme, Battling Nelson trained on the grounds and swam in the pool.
    In addition to the social, cultural and athletic events that drew people from all parts of Southern Oregon and California, the building once housed an ice cream parlor, bowling alleys, shooting galleries, movies and an athletic club. Lyceum shows were also held there.
    Although the heyday of the activity was gone, the building was still a popular place in 1928, and the late F. E. Merrick and his son, Emerson, sold one hundred acres of orchards in the Roxy Ann area to pay off the indebtedness of the structure.
    In 1930, former owners of the building settled out of court with the Merricks, and it became their sole operation. During the World War II years, the structure was leased to the army for its pool and other recreational activities. When the army gave it up, it was closed permanently and in recent years has been gathering dust.
    In 1952, Crawford, Col. Thomas A. Culbertson, Jr., and Otto Frohnmayer purchased the property under the name of the Riverside Investment Company.
    Crawford, president of the firm, in announcing of the dismantling of the building by Clifford E. Schleigh and G. R. Ford, said that definite plans for the future of the site have not been made.
    There are several things in the fire, and among these, according to reports, are (1) a motel and (2) a shopping center.
Rogue River Times, December 16, 1955, page 10    The site is now occupied by the Red Lion.

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    This building brings back many memories to me. It was located on Riverside Street just one block north of Main Street in Medford. In the 1920s we kids went swimming at the "Nat." It was a heated pool in the first floor part of the building. It was about 1924, when I was 12 or so, that I won a Red Cross swimming prize (white ribbon, third prize). I still have the ribbon. Several of us kids lined up alongside the pool in the diving position (I had never dived into a pool before), and I remember the belly flop I took. I swam sidestroke, never did learn any other way, and I was no speed demon.
    The upper story of the building was the Oriental Gardens, a ballroom dancing place. I remember the beautiful glass ball in the ceiling of the building. The lights were dimmed and a spotlight on the revolving glass ball was lit for the waltzes. Very romantic.
    The tourist campground in that area was the only camping place in Medford at that time. A very nice place, as it was on Bear Creek. No doubt a cheap place to stay. I remember friends of the folks lived there for a time.
    In the upper part of the building was also an old-time dance place. I remember going to that part to watch the "old folks" dance and listen to the "fiddles" playing.
    It seems as though we kids didn't go to the Oriental Gardens often, as we liked the Dreamland dance place better. This place was located across the street from the Roxy Theater and was on Main Street next to the Bear Creek bridge. We did go to the Oriental Gardens during the Dreamland intermission--didn't have to pay the entrance fee. Mother's friend Maude Disney was the hat check person we always greeted and chatted with when we went there.
Verna Forncrook Wilson, March 30, 1997

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    There is quite a colony of North Dakotans in this valley. . . . J. E. Watt and Fred Merrick are from Devils Lake. Mr. Merrick was formerly a partner of Bill Mogridge, whom the early timers of Valley City will remember.

Stephen A. Nye, "Nye Writes Letter of Interest Locally," Evening Times, Grand Forks, North Dakota, December 6, 1907, page 6

    If the plans of J. D. Heard and William S. Aiken do not miscarry, Medford will have an up-to-date natatorium built and ready for business on May 1, 1909. Plans are being drawn at the present time, and it is thought that work will be commenced on February 1.
    The main pool of the natatorium will be 150x50 feet in size. There will also be two smaller tanks, one for children and the other for ladies with escorts. The large tank will have a sloping bottom so that the depth can range from 4 to 12 feet. The building will be equipped with many athletic devices so that fancy diving and aerial stunts will be possible.
    The site for the tanks has not as yet been determined upon, but will be in the immediate future. The natatorium is to cost about $20,000.
    Mr. Heard is most enthusiastic over the outlook for the concern and will hasten all matters in connection with it so that it will be ready for opening by May 1.
Southern Oregonian, August 19, 1908, page 1

J. D. Heard Has Entered Partnership with W. A. Aitken.
    J. D. Heard has disposed of his interests in the Sterling Mining Company and will again take up his residence in Medford. Mr. Heard has entered into partnership with W. A. Aitken, the plumber, and they will erect a $10,000 natatorium east of the Bear Creek bridge, and they will commence work on the structure in February--provided the city water question is settled by that time.
    These gentlemen have purchased the four and a half-acre tract of land situated at the east end of the bridge, where now stands a brick residence, for the natatorium site. The purchase was made from J. W. Pratt, and the price paid was $6500.
    This is an ideal spot for the purpose for which it is to be used, and the gentlemen are fortunate in securing it. That brick dwelling never did look quite right there--but we couldn't think what ought to take its place.
Medford Mail, November 5, 1908, page 1    The Heard/Aiken natatorium effort may be unrelated to the one that actually came to pass.

Excavation Started at Foot of Fifth Street for Big Amusement Park and Natatorium.
    Four scraper teams of four horses each, with plow teams and the necessary complement of men, have started work on the excavation for the main building for the Medford natatorium and amusement park.
    The work was commenced at the foot of Sixth Street, just south of the Medford Creamery, and will be pushed as rapidly as possible. The plans include a swimming tank of generous proportions and amusements of various kinds which go toward making a public playground.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 6, 1910, page 14

Much Progress Being Made on Establishment Which Will
Add to the Gaiety of, Not Nations, but the City of Medford.
    While everybody knows that an amusement park and natatorium on the banks of Bear Creek is being rapidly pushed to completion by a number of Medford capitalists, few realize the magnitude of the enterprise.
    The personnel of the promoters is as follows:
    President, W. H. Brown.
    Vice-President, H. C. Kentner.
    Secretary and Treasurer, John S. Orth.
    Directors, F. E. Merrick, J. E. Enyart.
    All are men who have shown their faith in Medford by the investment of large sums of money.
    These men state that this amusement park, when completed, will be the equal of the Olympic Club of San Francisco and unexcelled by anything of its kind in the Northwest.
    The main building covers 70,000 square feet, giving it nearly an acre of floor space. The main plunge is 50x100 feet, while the ladies' plunge bath is 30x40 feet.
    Twenty modern tub baths will be installed, and the building will contain bowling alleys for both ladies and gentlemen, an elegantly equipped billiard hall, a parlor facing plunge 40x80 for the exclusive use of ladies; boxball alleys, moving picture department, dance hall and skating rink 120x172, a private dance hall 40x100 and a roof garden, which will be made a delightful retreat where on warm afternoons and evenings people may rest, refresh themselves with ices and listen to music.
    One of the chief features of this big building is the auditorium which will have a seating capacity of 2200, while the park, with its beautiful trees, flower beds and automobile drive, will be a most attractive spot in which to rest.
    Fronting on the pavement of Riverside Avenue there will be three store rooms, to be rented for cafe purposes, sporting goods, etc.
    There will be a resident superintendent and swimming teachers, and the management will maintain their own music for dancing, skating and out-of-door fetes.
    Architect Clark drew the plans for the building and the construction work is under the supervision of contractor Stuart, who by keeping two shifts of 40 men constantly employed hopes to have the park ready for the public by July 1.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 15, 1910, page 15

Pays $10,000 To Enlarge Ground and Provide General Entrance to Park on South Side.

    The Medford Natatorium & Amusement Company has purchased the brick house of Carrie J. Johnson on Riverside Avenue, paying $10,000. This will allow the company to make the general entrance to the park on the south instead of on the north side of the house.
    Work is rapidly progressing on the new Natatorium, and it is believed that by July 1 it will be ready to throw open to the public. A huge heating plant and two cars of lumber arrived Tuesday for the company.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 25, 1910, page 8

Sanborn Fire Insurance map, 1911

    Small boys are today enjoying the first swim in the new tank at the Natatorium, and almost a score of youngsters were photographed making the high dive.
    Rapid progress is being made in rushing the building to a completion, and within a few days the management will be ready to entertain the public. The natatorium is one of the largest in the West, and with the many added attractions it promises to be a resort unequaled by any town of the size of Medford.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 3, 1910, page 1

While It Was Not Planned To Open Plunge Until Other Attractions Were Ready,
Directors Decide To Open, As Tank Is Necessity.

    This afternoon the Natatorium company opens its plunge to the public, and those who have not been down to the grounds will have the surprise of their life when they see the tremendous scope of the enterprise.
    The directors really did not plan to open any part of the building or grounds until the whole thing was completed. But a swimming rink seemed almost a public necessity now, so the plunge will be opened today, but the billiard rooms, bowling and shooting alleys, picture shows, Turkish and vapor baths, etc., will probably not be ready for another month. There will also be a dance each night for the rest of the week.
    The Miller Carnival Company will also open their engagement tonight on the Natatorium grounds. They have six big shows, four great outside free acts and a balloon ascension at 7 o'clock.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 14, 1910, page 1

Big Crowds Fill Shows and Natatorium Thursday Night
When the Amusement Park Opens.

    The Medford Natatorium & Amusement Company opened the grounds Thursday night, and it looked as if almost everybody in town was there.
    The Miller Amusement Company, which conducted the carnival features, put up a number of good shows and they were all crowded until late in the evening. The "midway" was thronged all the time.
    Did you ever see so many polliwogs in a pool that they could hardly wiggle? Well, that's the way the swimming pool looked last night. At times if another bather should have entered the tank it would have overflowed. The plunge was occupied entirely by men and boys, to the exclusion of the ladies.
    While unable to announce an exact program for the future, the management has decided to give a "ladies' day" Monday afternoon from 2 to 4, during which time no one but ladies will be allowed in the plunge.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 15, 1910, page 1

Natatorium Pool Hall
A postcard mailed January 1912.

    The Natatorium is steadily increasing in popularity, this being especially noticeable among the ladies, and the attendance of so many of the fair sex is particularly gratifying to the management, as it shows that the efforts made to provide a clean place of amusement are appreciated.
    For the coming week there will be two ladies' days--Tuesday and Thursday; from 1 to 5 p.m. Thursday will be exclusively for the ladies, no gentlemen being allowed in the plunge. But Tuesday afternoon the pool will be given over to ladies and their escorts, not more than one gentleman being allowed with each lady, and he must be a bona fide escort. This feature is very popular at Venice, Long Beach and other California resorts, and will no doubt meet with equal favor here.
    On Wednesday and Saturday evenings there will be the usual dances, beginning at 9 o'clock.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 24, 1910, page 2

    One of the largest natatoriums in the United States is about completed. It will cost $60,000, and its composite features are complete in every detail. The swimming pool, 50x100 feet, required more than ten carloads of cement, and will keep a small part of the people cool for awhile. Twenty carloads of lumber are used in this huge building, and a whole carload of sash and doors are necessary to give light, access and egress. The dancing pavilion takes a solid car of maple lumber for floors alone.
"Medford and Its Era of Big Building," Medford Mail Tribune, September 17, 1910, page B1

Advertisement, Medford Mail Tribune, September 22, 1910, page 8

Society for the Abatement of Pest Confers Degree of Butcher of Harmony and Professor of Discord Upon Nat Engineer
    At the regular meeting of the Society for the Abatement of Pests held last night on the ------ corner of ------ street it was unanimously decided that the engineer of the Natatorium, he of the "Home Sweet Home" which nightly rends the air, be presented with one of the biggest and juiciest of limes now en route from California for distribution among various pests.
    The blowing of the whistle at the Natatorium heralding the arrival of the three meal periods every day comes as a boon and a blessing to the many thousands whose Ingersolls are with them only in the form of a fond memory, but why the public tympanum should be outraged nightly by the horrible massacring of that ancient and honorable "Home Sweet Home" effort on the part of a musically inclined engineer and a hundred-horsepower boiler is more than the members of the local lodge of the Show Me Club can understand.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 7, 1911, page 2  The "Society" only existed in the "Pests" column of the Medford Mail Tribune.

Natatorium 1911-1-1MMT
Medford Mail Tribune, January 1, 1911

Natatorium, Sunday Oregonian, March 5, 1911
Sunday Oregonian, March 5, 1911

    The admissions to the new Natatorium offer a good index to the growth of the city. Paid dance admissions during January were 4003, during February 4869, during March 4890. Paid skating admissions were January 7140, February 7235, March 8832. Paid general admissions during January were 5911, February 6283, March 7234. This does not include ladies or minors or deadheads.
"Prosperity Alluringly Beckons," Medford Mail Tribune, April 10, 1911, page 4

Contestants Must Hold Aloft Open Umbrella and Cigar Must Be Alight at Finish
    While the other committees on sports have been making arrangements for the 4th, the committee on swimming has not been idle.
    Dr. E. R. Seely, J. Walter Dudley and W. H. Brown, who have charge of this branch of entertainment, have evolved a novel program to be pulled off at the Natatorium. There will be a free-for-all in two heats and a final five entries to each heat. An obstacle race that will furnish much amusement for the spectators will also take place. The contestants in this event will swim the length of the tank holding aloft an open umbrella and smoking a cigar. At the end of the race the cigar must still be lighted.
    The special feature will be a race of 100 yards in which Jack Oberdorf will swim the entire distance against Geo. Coffee, Art Coffee and "Gordon" Keyes, three of the fastest boys in Medford. Each of the latter will swim one lap relaying one another.
    The races will start promptly at 7:30 on the evening of the 3rd, and admission will be absolutely free.
Medford Sun, June 27, 1911, page 5

    The management of the Natatorium is extending to out-of-town people an invitation to bring their lunches and eat in the park adjoining the building on the Fourth of July.
    There is abundant shade and water, benches will be provided, and if possible tables will be built for the occasion.
    No charge will be made for the privilege, and all are heartily welcome.
    There will be many attractions in the building to furnish amusement for all who care to indulge.
Medford Sun, June 29, 1911, page 3

Circa 1912.

    It's an ill wind that blows nobody good. During the last week, with the thermometer doing its duty, the crowds have found the Natatorium an oasis of delight.
    The plunge has claimed many, but probably the coolest place of all is the billiard parlor and bowling alley downstairs.
    There is no dampness in the basement, but perfect ventilation and the concrete walls hold the temperature evenly at 58 degrees no matter how hot the day.
    Ladies as well as gentlemen find it a most agreeable place to while away the hottest part of the day, and every courtesy is extended to all.
    The management is continuing the regular Saturday night dances which, with the many other attractions, makes the Natatorium one of the most popular amusement places in town.
Medford Sun, July 9, 1911, page 3

Circa 1910.

Public Is Invited To Inspect Water Supply and See Whether It Is
Cleanly or Not--Gutter Carries Off Dirty Water.
    In view of the fact that some people do not understand the system of sanitation at the Natatorium, this explanation is offered that they be enlightened.
    In the first place, the water used is from the main line of the city water system--the best in Oregon.
    The water is heated in the boiler room with live steam as it passes through the heating tank. Then, by a series of four inlets at the bottom of the plunge it is circulated into the big tank. The overflow gutter around the edge of the plunge connects with the sewer and carries off the surface water continually. A large vent in the lower end of the tank drains the lower strata and is also used to empty the tank.
    At all times when people are swimming the water is circulated, and fresh water is poured in according to the number of bathers up to the rate of 40,000 gallons per hour.
    Every night the tank is drained and thoroughly cleaned and refilled with fresh water.
    The bathing suits are washed in the Natatorium laundry department. Each suit is turned inside out and rinsed first in fresh water. Soap suds and hot water are then used, after which the suits are rinsed in two changes of water.
    They are next put into the extractor and all the water is forced out, after which they are thoroughly dried with steam heat.
    People interested are welcome to inspect the system and will be gladly shown the inside workings of a perfect bath house.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 23, 1911, page B1

    T. A. Waterman has leased the bowling alleys and billiard halls of the Natatorium building. They have been remodeled and reopened today under the new management.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, October 27, 1911, page 2

    Medford, Or.: The Natatorium Co. has been organized to take over old Natatorium bldg. and make it into an opera house at cost of $75,000.

"Theaters and Halls," Pacific Builder and Engineer, Seattle, January 27, 1912, page 88

January 29, 1912 Oregonian

Burning of Old Theater Quickens Move--Improvements Will Cost $25,000
    It was announced upon reliable authority last night that the Natatorium company would at once take steps toward the completion of their plans to make that building into an up-to-date theater, as outlined in the plans drawn a year ago by architect George Butz. The improvements will cost between $20,000 and $25,000, and owing to the arrangements of the Natatorium can be quickly made. Definite action will be taken today or the first of next week by the owners and bids called for.
    The burning of the old theater cleared the way for this action, which has been contemplated for a number of months, partially through the need of a new theater and partially through the adaptability of the Natatorium for such purposes. If the change is made it will be figured to have remodeling completed by the first of the year and all bookings for 1913 handled.
    A foundation for a theater was laid near the site of the one that burned Friday, and from time to time rumors have been circulated regarding the erection of a modern structure on the corner of Fir and Main, and the corner of Sixth and Grape streets. Conditions have never been ripe for the bringing of these plans to a conclusion.
Medford Sun, October 12, 1912, page 1

Odd Fellows at the Natatorium, May 25, 1913 Sunday Oregonian
Odd Fellows at the Natatorium, May 25, 1913 Sunday Oregonian

Nose and Jaw Broken When Floating Barrel Is Struck--
Physicians Fear Complications Will Result
    Hamilton Lewis, age 12 years, sustained a compound fracture of the nose, lower jaw, and breaking of the frontal bone of the head, as the result of a dive headfirst down the water slide at the Natatorium swimming tank Saturday night, and it is feared by the attending physicians, Drs. Porter and Barber, that a fracture of the skull may develop along with meningitis complications, lessening the chances for life.
    The young lad plunged down the slide head first, striking a barrel floating in the water. The force of the impact drove the nasal bone into the face, and crushing the frontal bone. The bones of the face were also broken. Under this pain the injured lad bore up with heroism seldom seen, talking of the accident to swimmers. Just before he struck he called for help. The boy was taken immediately to the office of Dr. Barber, who assisted by Dr. Porter performed an operation. They stated last night that the boy had a fighting chance for life, but feared that meningitis complications would set in.
    The accident occurred about 7:30 o'clock, when only a half dozen people were in the tank.
Medford Sun, August 10, 1913, page 1

    The Natatorium has placed a bar on the use of the hitching racks near the building, tacking up a notice to this effect Monday. It is claimed that owners of teams, despite all barriers, have driven across the tennis court, and dragged off a $25 logging chain to boot.

"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, November 11, 1913, page 2

Dancers Who Defy Rule Are Ordered Off Floor of Hall.
    MEDFORD, Or., Dec. 15.--(Special.)--The management of the public dance halls here placed a ban on "ragging" Saturday night. Manager Merrick made a seven minutes' talk, sounding the finale. A couple began to "rag" as soon as he left the floor. They were ejected from the floor, but not the hall. It is claimed that the Medford version of generally accredited undecorous steps keeps dancers away.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, December 16, 1913, page 2

    F. E. Merrick left this morning for Devils Lake, North Dakota, to look after his property interests there and the harvesting of his grain crop on his large ranch. He will be gone about two months.

"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, August 25, 1917, page 2

    Since the auto camp ground for tourists was opened recently at the rear of the Natatorium along the bank of Bear Creek, not a day has passed without from one to half a dozen tourist parties stopping there.
"Local Briefs," Medford Mail Tribune, May 31, 1919, page 2

Phillip Anderson, Age 15, Victim of Tragedy--Foot Slips, Strikes Head on Concrete Walk--
Nephew of A. E. Reames--Fall Causes Broken Neck.

    Phillip Anderson, 15-year-old son of Mrs. Ira R. Anderson, and nephew of attorney A. E. Reames, died this morning at 11 o'clock at the Sacred Heart Hospital from injuries received when he fell from the balcony at the Natatorium yesterday to the concrete siding, 10 feet beneath. Young Anderson, who is an expert swimmer and has been a daily visitor at the Nat. during the summer, was preparing to make a dive from the balcony railing when his foot slipped and instead of clearing the short walk around the edge of the pool he struck it, the body rolling into the water. The fall caused little excitement at the time, no one thinking Anderson was fatally injured, but examination showed he had suffered a broken wrist and two broken vertebrae in the neck. From the first doctors Barber and Thayer gave little hope of recovery, the wonder being the young man lived as long as he did. He was at once taken to the Sacred Heart Hospital and everything possible done, but he never regained consciousness and sank gradually until the end.
    Attorney A. E. Reames was telephoned for and is expected to arrive from Portland on the afternoon train. Mrs. Anderson and her two sons, Tom and Phillips, have been living on South Central, Mr. Anderson being dead. The funeral announcement will be made later.
    A particularly pathetic feature of the tragedy was the fact that Mrs. Anderson had planned to take her two sons to a military academy tomorrow, all plans having been made for the departure of the family.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 9, 1920, page 1

    That the old-time "jazz" is on the wane in Medford as well as in the eastern cities is shown by the increasing popularity of the latest modern dance music at the Natatorium dancing parties each week. The rattle and bag of cowbells and brazen blare of tin horns is conspicuous by its absence in the Imperial Orchestra, having been replaced with the delightful harmony of piano, banjo, violin, saxophones, marimbaphone, bells, drums and traps. That this modern interpretation of dance music as it should be played is appreciated by Medford music lovers is shown by the many favorable comments heard on every side.

"Local Briefs," Medford Mail Tribune, August 20, 1920, page 2

    A large crowd enjoyed Wednesday night's dance at the Oriental Ballroom in the Nat, where there will be another big dancing party tonight. The music was excellent, and the big Nat floor, the only maple dance floor in the city, was in splendid condition.
    The hall, which has recently been leased by the American Legion and which is being redecorated by that organization, was comfortably heated and equipped with every convenience including a drinking fountain.
    A large crowd is expected to attend the dance in the Oriental Ballroom this evening, and it is understood that the same orchestra will furnish the music.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 2, 1922, page 5

    In addition to the elaborate changes now under way at the Natatorium and grounds in establishing one of the best auto camps in the United States in its conveniences and recreation features, now comes the news that W. B. Virgin, the radio man, and Walter D. Merrick have just completed a deal by which Mr. Virgin will move his radio outfit valued at $2,500 from the county fair grounds and establish it at the Nat.
    They will spend from $1000 to $1500 in enlarging the radio plant, making it one of the very best on the Pacific Coast, and Mr. Virgin will leave tonight for Portland to purchase the additional equipment. The plant will be all ready in its new location in about three weeks.
    It is the plan to give daily programs at the Nat for the benefit of the auto tourists stopping there, afternoon and evening, with a special program after 11 p.m. The programs will consist of concerts, news matters and crop reports.
    The broadcasting room will be in the small hall of the Nat, which is being fitted up for that purpose. A loud amplifier will be mounted on top of the big building so that radio features can be heard all over the grounds.
    Seely V. Hall has become associated with the Merrick brothers in the Nat auto camp, radio and other features in connection. Tom Swem will transform the top of the Nat into a huge roof garden, as one of the auto camp features, and will be interested in the Merrick brothers' ventures.
    The main lower part of the Nat, outside of the big swimming tank, is being transformed into kitchen, dining, sewing and recreation rooms, and shower baths for the comfort of the tourists. The grounds are being beautified with lattice work, a fountain and other features, and a croquet playing enclosure will be established.
    Twenty-five small screened-in bungalow houses have already been built and five more will be constructed, each to be furnished with comfortable beds and bedding. Any tourists who prefer can camp out on the grounds, instead of occupying one of the bungalow houses, at a small daily charge.
    Of special interest to the local public is that the large swimming tank of the Nat will be open to the public as usual during the season.
    An additional feature of the Nat auto camp will be the doing of the laundry of auto tourists daily free of charge.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 23, 1923, page 6

    Of much interest to the community is the announcement of the opening of the Nat plunge tomorrow at 2 o'clock. A number of improvements have been made in the plunge room for this season to conform to the needs of the tourists who will have access to the pool from the campground entrance.
    The water will be changed each night and it is the intention of the management to keep the water at a higher temperature than has been maintained in past years.
    Beginning Monday the pool will be open at nine o'clock each morning, this policy to continue for an indefinite period.

Medford Mail Tribune, May 11, 1923, page 12

    Auto tourist business over the weekend at the two local auto camp grounds was quite heavy. The Merrick Motor Inn had 76 cars of people last night and 72 more cars of them last night, making 444 persons altogether stopping there on these two nights. The city auto camp had 43 cars and 135 people on Saturday night and 37 cars and 121 people last night.

"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, July 23, 1923, page 2


    The weekend tourist business in this city fell down considerably, probably due to the hot weather, which made traveling undesirable. At that the Merrick Motor Inn had 81 cars and 300 persons last night, and 69 cars and 260 persons Saturday night; while at the city auto camp there were 51 cars last night and 132 persons, and 50 cars and 154 persons on Saturday night.
    During the month of July according to the records 2854 tourist cars and 10,239 persons stopped at the two Medford auto camps, of which the Merrick Motor Inn had 1889 cars and 6612 persons, and the city auto camp 965 cars and 3627 persons.
    This record for the month excels the July record for the long-famed Ashland auto camp. The Ashland camp according to the published figures had 2309 cars and 9276 persons.
    The auto tourist business has grown to be so large that already plans are under way everywhere for needed enlargement and improvements for next year. The Ashland camp will be enlarged, and to this end a delegation of citizens representing its auto camp and various civic bodies interested paid a friendly call on the Merrick Motor Inn last night, getting pointers and information as to how that camp is conducted.
    It is understood that the Ashland camp will be extended further up the canyon, and that small bungalow houses will be built and a big concrete swimming pool erected.
    The Merrick Motor Inn likewise has plans under way for needed improvements and more room for next season to accommodate the fast-increasing travel. While the matter has not come up formally it is understood that the city auto camp will improve and enlarge for next season. The present capacity of both the Ashland camp and the Merrick Motor Inn is 100 cars each, and the city auto camp capacity is much less than that.

Medford Mail Tribune, August 13, 1923, page 1

    At the Merrick Motor Inn last night there were 250 persons and 75 cars. The city auto camp had 166 persons and 51 cars.

"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, August 25, 1923, page 2

    Interesting data about the attendance figures for this season at the Merrick Motor Inn, prepared by the management, were turned over by Seely Hall today to the Chamber of Commerce and the Copco company for use in their selling-Medford campaign.
    The attendance from June 4 when the inn opened for business, to October 20 last, was 7111 cars, during which time seven auto tourist families bought property here and became permanent residents. During this time also 17 families lived at the inn for over 30 days each, and 16 families outside of the 17 families who bought property took up their permanent residence here in rented properties.
    The average stay of the auto tourists stopping at the inn was between one and two days. The tourists were from all states and there were a number from foreign countries.
    During the peak of the season, which was the month of August, the inn had a staff of eleven employees, and the average number of employees the rest of the time numbered six. During the first year of its existence the inn received more favorable publicity than any other auto camp on the Pacific Coast, and of most of the United States.
    The inn will remain open this winter as long as the tourists keep coming and will inaugurate many improvements before next year's season begins.
    The city auto camp figures of the season's patronage are not yet ready, but this camp also enjoyed a huge patronage. The city camp will remain open as long as the weather remains favorable for outdoor auto tourist camping.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 26, 1923, page 6

    In addition to transacting a mass of routine business, the most important action taken by the city council last night, in session from 7:30 until long after 11, was the decision to have the city no longer operate the city auto camp, but to lease it to the management of the Merrick Motor Inn for two years, at $600 annually, with the privilege of the lessor having first crack at renewal at the end of that time; the city to retain general supervision over the leased camp.
    Details of the lease will be threshed out later and be ready by the first council meeting in January, when the transaction will be completed. It is understood that the inn management among the big improvements which it will make on its own plant by early spring will make from $1200 to $1500 worth of improvements on the leased camp.
    This combining of the two auto camps it is predicted will further add to Medford's fine reputation for the care of auto tourists which was made by the Merrick Motor Inn during the past season. Hundreds of such tourists from all sections of the United States enthusiastically and voluntarily proclaimed last summer and fall that the inn gave more and better accommodations at prices charged than standard auto camps in other states. The only fault with the inn was that it lacked room during the rush part of the season to accommodate the herds of tourists.
    By the leasing of the city auto camp this fault will be remedied, for the two camps which practically adjoin each other on opposite sides of Bear Creek will be operated as one and connected by a bridge across the creek just north of the Bear Creek bridge with the entrance to the new bridge from the city auto camp under the Bear Creek bridge.
    One big reason which influenced the council to make the lease is that its members and the mayor think that the two camps combined under private management will be better for tourists and the city, and will obviate the necessity of the city spending thousands of dollars to make the city auto camp a standard one.
    It was never the intention of the city administrations, past and present, to operate the auto camp for gain, but mostly as an accommodation and necessity to the motor traveling public, and to be operated on as near a paying basis as possible. It was thought that the Merrick Motor Inn with its superior attractions could better cater to the public, especially if it had the additional ground and facilities of the city camp.
    Since it was established, the city has expended on the municipal camp between $8000 and $9000, including cost of land and improvements. During the past season up to the last of September the receipts to the city from the camp, at fifty cents a day per car, were $800, and since September the camp had proved a losing proposition.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 19, 1923, page 1   The city camp doesn't appear on the 1927 Sanborn maps, below. The bridge apparently was never built.

    The Oriental Gardens at the Nat are in festive garb this week because of the masquerade ball which will be held there Wednesday evening. Tom Swem, Seely Hall and Emerson Merrick, assisted by a corps of workmen, have been busily engaged in putting on the finishing touches on the already beautiful hall so that it will be a fitting setting for colorful costumes which will be worn by the masqueraders tomorrow evening. The stage setting, for example, will be different from anything ever seen in Southern Oregon and will be but one of many attractions of Wednesday night's dance. Beautiful lighting effects have been arranged, part of which include enormous, brightly colored hanging lamps with diameters of eighteen feet and more.
    A large number of costumes, varied and colorful, have been secured from Goldstein of San Francisco for the Oriental Gardens' masquerade ball, which will assure something new and novel in the line of masquerade costuming in Southern Oregon. A grand march will be held on the dance floor tomorrow evening during the festivities, and prizes will be awarded for various costumes. Even those who do not dance will find enjoyment in this revue.
    Principal credit for the elaborate and tasty decorations goes to Tom Swem, who is in charge of decorations at the Nat and is associated with Seely Hall in the management of the Oriental Gardens.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 22, 1924, page 5

Merrick's circa 1924

    Medford is closing its municipally operated automobile camp and is arranging a concession for a camp under private operation.
    A Portland resident who has just returned from a visit in that Southern Oregon city says: "The tourists were demanding more and more as the years passed and in most cases were quite able to pay hotel prices for the accommodations they expected in an open-air camp with a nominal fee.
    "Medford has started a movement in Oregon which I should like to see extend through the state, and for that matter throughout the country."
    Medford will let the concession to a highly responsible management, and has the assurance of clean grounds, ample facilities for cooking, shower baths and other moderate-priced conveniences, with a choice between tents and cottages.
    This Portland citizen continues: "Private ownership of the automobile camp may set a check on the increasing number of irresponsible migratory families who run up and down the coast in cheap cars, working in the harvests in summer and settling down on the charitable organizations of the cities for the winter.
    "Many of these people have no home or registered voting place and no settled school for their children. It  is not unusual to find children who enroll and then make hasty exits from a half-dozen school districts during the school year.
    "Medford's action also points the way to a matter I should like to see brought before our 1925 legislature; that is, to require the registration of every individual who stays overnight in an auto camp, and to enforce in this type of public lodging our present hotel code of morals. At present we have no means of tracing irregular proceedings."--Portland Oregonian.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 19, 1924, page 6

    Decked in a new coat of green and white paint and strongly resembling a new circus band wagon, the big Nat swimming pool will bring joy to hundreds of kiddies--old and young--at its seasonal opening at 1 o'clock tomorrow afternoon.
    Following the custom of past years the great siren whistle at the Nat will convey the gladsome tidings shortly after noon tomorrow.
    Five hundred dollars has been spent for new suits, and this shipment is expected to reach here late today.
    Many changes have been made in the locker room arrangement and every precaution has been taken to ensure strictest cleanliness.
    Miss Helen Rodolf has consented to give swimming instructions throughout the summer. She will teach either privately or in class. Her work in the dancing and aquatic field is well known throughout Oregon, and it would be fair to say that she excels in both.
    The Natatorium management will later announce a schedule of water contests and events that will meet with the accord of all swimming devotees.
    The water will be heated to ninety degrees, and this temperature will be maintained throughout the season.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 3, 1924, page 5

Declares Medford's Private Auto Camp Highest Type on the Coast
By Josephine Forney, in Portland Oregonian.

    MEDFORD, Ore.--(Special.)--At Medford I have found the example deluxe of privately owned and operated automobile camps--Merrick's Motor Inn. Medford, like most other up-to-date cities, has given much thought to the question of its automobile camp--as to whether it would be more satisfactory under municipal ownership or operated by an individual or individuals. Medford has apparently solved its problem to the satisfaction of all concerned. Merrick's Motor Inn is operated in a manner entirely satisfactory to the Chamber of Commerce, and the two organizations work together in complete harmony. The location of the camp--almost in the heart of the city--results in a gratifying increase in business among the local merchants.
    The equipment is unusual in the extreme. At the left of the entrance gate stands a large three-story building which was formerly the municipal natatorium. Here is provided an excellently equipped swimming tank with heated water; above that a dancing pavilion, which boasts a Victrola and a nickel-in-the-slot music box; in the basement is a splendid bowling alley, a shooting gallery, as well as a fully equipped kitchen with accommodations for at least 75 persons at one time. Gas plates for cooking are there and it is not necessary to come armed with money to operate them, for--wonder of wonders!--free use of all these attractions is included in the 50-cent registration fee!
Tourists Return Frequently
    It seems doubtful if any other camp in the country is equipped to give so much in service for a like registration fee. At any rate, tourists do stay here weeks at a time and tourists do return here and tourists do send their friends, and the Medford automobile camp is conceded to be a 100 percent success. Merrick's Motor Inn is provided with 20 small shelter cottages without beds, which are made available at the regular registration fee, 50 cents to those who do not wish to pitch their tent. There are 74 cottages in all, 50 of them completely equipped with comfortable beds and bedding and electric light. The price of these cottages varies according to equipment from 25 cents to $3. The latter price pays for a double cottage with equipment for a good-sized family.
    There are six kitchens within the camp, all fully equipped for the convenience of guests, with ample free gas plates in each one. The camp store at the entrance is open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. The laundry service is modern and complete; from 900 to 1500 gallons of hot water is used daily, electric irons are provided. A writing and reading room is another attraction. All these things are as free to the man who brings his tent and pays 50 cents as they are to the occupant of the highest-priced cottage in the camp.
    Besides all this free service, the owners of the camp are spending from $150 to $200 each month in advertising Medford, the camp and Crater Lake National Park.
Ashland Camp Good
    I submit as the highest type of municipally owned and operated camp the wonderful camp at Ashland, about which I have previously expressed myself, and as the highest type of privately owned and operated automobile camp the camp at Medford. Portland might well study these two camps before deciding the questions which have been before the city and the Chamber of Commerce in connection with the future operation of its automobile camp.
    In spite of the fact that attendance at some of the national parks is falling below that of last season, Crater Lake National Park continues to break all previous records. Up to the night of August 15, 44,884 had visited the park, as against 30,522 for the same period last season. Of the total 24,665 have entered through the Medford gateway; 16,929 have entered through the Klamath Falls gateway; 1677 have approached via Bend and 2221 have been registered at the Anna Springs camp office late in the day after the rangers have been relieved of registration duty at the three above-mentioned gates.
    During the month of July, 1924, 3287 Oregon cars, carrying 11,395 persons, have entered Crater Lake National Park and 2922 California cars, bearing 9566 persons, have visited the park. In July, 1923, 2973 Oregon autos, carrying 10,378 persons, and 2021 California cars with 6636 visitors entered the Crater Lake gateways.
    The only state in the Union which has failed to send a visitor to Crater Lake this season is Georgia, but last season Georgia sent three. Scotland, New Zealand, Japan, Austria and the Hawaiian islands have sent  visitors this season.
    During July the state of Washington has sent into Crater Lake 314 automobiles, while Idaho's record of 28 cars during the same month is surpassed by Nevada's 30 cars and is closely contested by 27 cars from the state of Illinois. The state of New York sent 23 automobiles during July, Ohio 22, while Pennsylvania and Colorado have 19 to their credit and Massachusetts 13.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 26, 1924, page 4

    The Merrick Auto Camp continues to win state and national favorable attention through its largeness, completeness and variety of facilities. In recognition of this fact the board of directors of the Medford Chamber of Commerce has just adopted the following resolution:
    Whereas, the Merrick Auto Camp through its policy of courtesy and fair dealing, and
    Whereas, investigation of the method and plan of operation show that every effort is being made to ensure comfort and convenience to the auto tourists, therefore
    Be it resolved that the Medford Chamber of Commerce, through its directors, express to the Merrick Auto Camp its appreciation for this service and assure them of the complete cooperation of this organization in the conduct of this auto camp.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 26, 1924, page 6

    The downpour of rain of last night, almost record breaking, created flood conditions in the streets to many places because of inability of the storm sewers to carry away the fast-falling rain quick enough; caused Bear Creek and smaller streams throughout the county to flood their banks, and caused the greatest rise in the Rogue River during this year. The river at Gold Ray this morning was at a depth of 15 feet and two inches, far more than normal.
    In all during the 24 hours ending this morning 1.43 of an inch of rain had fallen, most of which came down last night. It stopped raining along towards morning, and the flooded condition of the streams and the streets began to fast subside. More rain is predicted for tonight and Wednesday.
    The rapid rise of Bear Creek caused that usually quiet stream to overflow its banks after midnight and reach the dignity of a raging river, which flooded the east side of the Merrick auto camp and the city auto camp.
    Considerable damage was caused at the Merrick camp, as the flood washed away several of the tourist cabins and undermined others in the first row and one-half along the river. Several of the cabins are overturned by the flood, but did not float away. In this flood among the cabins stands the auto of a man who was living in a cabin. Two men residing in one of the cabins were awakened sometime after midnight to find their small structure flooded and had to wade out quickly, with what personal effects could easily be seized, to safety on higher land.
    The main portion of the Merrick camp, however, was not touched by the swollen stream.
    The pontoon bridge between the Merrick camp and the city auto camp, which are both operated under the Merrick management, was washed away, as were camp stoves, benches and chairs in both the camps. However, the damage at the Merrick camp up to late this forenoon, when the water was fast receding, will not be considerable, but it will require considerable work to right the overturned and undermined cabins, and to bring back to their sites the cabins that floated downstream. Three of the cabins were lodged against the Jackson Street bridge this morning.
    The city auto camp damage was slight, consisting of some benches, chairs and camp stoves being washed some distance away.
    It was a matter of general comment this forenoon that it was a fortunate thing for both auto camps and probably Medford and the valley generally that the gates of the Emigrant irrigation dam, which were closed some time ago, were holding the main portions of the heavy rainfall and snow water back, as the dam is said to be a natural watershed for this section. If the gates had been open it is conjectured by many that the flood of Bear Creek would have been serious.
    Reports extant in the city this forenoon that the city water pipe system line had broken near the intake were erroneous, and probably arose through the fact that the stream in the neighborhood of the intake was greatly flooded by the mass of falling rain and fast-melting snow in the hills.
    The city water pipe line system was in much danger because of this flooded condition, especially at the intake, but the situation there was still safe at noon today, according to City Water Superintendent Chas. W. Davis.
    Naturally the city water today is somewhat roily because of the accumulation of rain and snow water.
    The city's temporary wooden bridge over Bear Creek connecting Cottage Street and E. Twelfth Street was badly damaged by the rising waters, but can be reconstructed.
    Altogether up to early this afternoon the city and vicinity was fortunate in suffering so little damage, considering the great amount of precipitation falling in such a short period, and can stand moderate further rain. However, another such downpour like last night, coming soon after the first one, would doubtless do considerable damage.
    The Bear Creek flood of last night and this morning in the auto camps' vicinity is not record breaking or anywhere near it, according to people who have lived here most of their lives, but is the highest stage that stream has reached in recent years. A number of times in past years, the old timers say, Bear Creek flooded the flat east of its east bank until its waters reached the Pacific & Eastern depot building or further.
    As to possible damage in other parts of this county caused by the downpour of rain, no details were available this afternoon.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 30, 1924, page 2

    The rapid rise of Bear Creek caused that usually quiet stream to overflow its banks after midnight and reach the dignity of a raging river, which flooded the east side of the Merrick auto camp and the city auto camp.
    Considerable damage was caused at the Merrick camp, as the flood washed away several of the tourist cabins and undermined others in the first row and one-half along the river. Several of the cabins are overturned by the flood, but did not float away. In this flood among the cabins stands the auto of a man who was living in a cabin. Two men residing in one of the cabins were awakened sometime after midnight to find their structure flooded and had to wade out quickly, with what personal effects could easily be seized, to safety on higher land.
    The main portion of the Merrick camp, however, was not touched by the swollen stream.
"Flood Does Much Damage," Ashland Daily Tidings, December 31, 1924, page 1

    Summer is here. Of this there can be no doubt. For next Saturday afternoon the Merrick plunge will open for the season.
    Nothing has been overlooked in preparing for the occasion, declare the proprietors  The immense tank floor has been given several coats of white paint; diving apparatus has been renewed; hundreds of new suits have been purchased and the aquatic stage has been set for a great day.
    The water will be kept at 90 degrees, suitable for both swimmers and bathers. No crowd can be too large to be handled, for added facilities have been installed to meet any emergency.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 28, 1925, page 3

    The Highway Bulletin, the official publication of Merrick's Motor Inn edited by Walter D. Merrick, is off the press, and three truckloads of the edition will be distributed on the highways and byways of Oregon, Washington and California.
    The Bulletin is profusely illustrated with cuts of Southern Oregon spots and scenery, and features Medford and the motor inn. It contains a number of interesting articles, some humorous--from the pen of Mr. Merrick--and the contents of the paper are interesting alike to home folks and tourists.
    Every north- and southbound autoist on the Pacific Highway for the next month will receive a copy of the paper, and the distribution will be complete.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 4, 1925, page 8

    A capacity business has been enjoyed all summer at the Medford "motor inn," according to Fred E. Merrick, proprietor of the tourist camp, who is registered with Mrs. Merrick at the Portland Hotel. Medford, according to Mr. Merrick, has become a tourist center, serving travelers going north to and coming from the Crater Lake National Park. The "inn" is probably unique in having many conveniences usually enjoyed only in hotels. A feature of the camp is a swimming pool. Mr. Merrick noted with pleasure the result of the election, which will establish the seat of Jackson County at Medford. Mr. Merrick has been in Portland several days for a minor operation.--Portland Oregonian.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, November 9, 1926, page 2

Sanborn Fire Insurance map, 1927

    The comfort of the tourist has not been overlooked in Medford and southern Oregon, and when the weary autoist swoops down from the lofty Siskiyou Mountains into the Rogue River Valley he finds accommodations unexcelled anywhere. As he passes through Phoenix, four miles from Medford, he can tarry for the night at the Ever Shady Auto Park, one of the beauty spots of the Pacific Highway through southern Oregon. Next is Merrick's Motor Inn, situated in the very heart of this city on Bear Creek. This camp is known the country over for its excellent accommodations and offers well-furnished cabins, cooking facilities, laundry equipment as well as diversified entertainment such as swimming, dancing and bowling.
    Phipps Auto Park on the Pacific Highway at Jackson Street also offers unusual accommodations for tourists. This camp is complete in every detail, offering even free car washing facilities.
    As the tourist leaves Medford, he may stop at Camp Withus if he so desires. This camp is near the great Owen-Oregon Lumber Company's new million-dollar lumber mill. There are also splendid camp grounds and oil stations all along the Pacific Highway. Before reaching Grants Pass he may enjoy a rest in the cool shade of Riviera Park, fifteen miles from Medford, or a stay at beautiful Weasku Inn and camp at Rogue River. Weasku Inn is located near the Savage Rapids Dam on famous Rogue River and is in the very heart of the well-known fishing waters of that stream.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 2, 1927, page 1

Merrick's 1927 Bear Creek flood
    In the neighborhood of $20,000 was the loss figured by the Merrick auto camp, which lost two rows of camp houses numbering approximately 38, 15 of which had only recently been constructed for next summer's business. A number of the houses were swept for long distances down the creek, and others are scattered all along its banks. The houses even in normal weather are situated fairly close to the stream, which in summer time is not much more than a brook. In order to prevent flood damage, the majority of the houses had been fastened securely to trees, but the fastenings were unavailing in the terrific force of the water, which in addition flooded a large number of other camp houses.
"Valley and City Swept by Freshets," Medford Mail Tribune, February 21, 1927, page 1

    The annual "swim week" of the American Red Cross commences at the Natatorium June 6th.
    Perry Davis, swimming instructor of the University of Oregon, will have full charge of the swimming and life-saving work.
    More interest is being manifested in the meet this year than at any time before. Up to last night 69 non-swimmers had been registered. Those desiring to take the work, please register before Monday. If not convenient, they may register on Monday morning at the Natatorium.
    It is the intention of the Red Cross to continue this work until every man, woman and child can swim. Mr. Merrick has placed the Natatorium at the disposal of the Red Cross and is cooperating in every way to further the success of "swim week."
Medford Mail Tribune, June 3, 1927, page B8

    Over 400 children and adults attended today the opening swimming season of the Red Cross Life Saving Campaign, which is being held at Merrick's Natatorium under the auspices of the American Red Cross.
    Due to the large turnout and the amount of interest shown in the project, it has been decided to divide the attendance, and to allot the time limit for those learning to swim to one hour. By this division it will be possible for the staff of Red Cross member swimming instructors to give a small group instruction rather than mass instruction. By this method it is expected to be able to give every child or adult an equal amount of instruction.
    During the Swim Week there will be a Red Cross voluntary life guard on duty while the classes are in operation.
    The adult swimming class which meets at 7:30 p.m. now has over 25 persons registered. It is expected that the adult swimming will have the same relative increase in interest and participation that the children have shown.
    Every person should learn to swim for the water safety of themselves and others. Few persons who cannot swim succeed in going through life without at some time placing themselves at a risk either to themselves or others. Satisfy yourself by learning to swim, then keep it up as a means of recreation. It is one of the best all-around exercises.
Red Cross Life Saving Program.
9 o'clock--
    75 non-swimmers admitted.
    10 minutes allowed for dressing.
    30 minutes swimming lesson.
    15 minutes allowed for dressing.
    5 minutes allowed for clearing the building.
10 o'clock--
    75 more non-swimmers will be admitted.
    Same procedure.
11 o'clock--
    Swimmers admitted only.
    Non-swimmers are not admitted at this period.
    3 o'clock--Junior Life Saving classes.
    4 o'clock--Senior Life Saving classes.
    7:30 to 8:20--Adult swimming classes only for non-swimmers.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 6, 1927, page 2

    Because a very busy season makes it impossible to rent the Natatorium swimming pool for special parties, Fire Chief Elliott will be unable to give his annual swimming party this year to the younger boys of the city, although he had planned on so doing. Chief Elliott, however, will probably hold a swim party next year. He believes these events have a lasting effect in keeping boys from becoming careless with fire, as a lecture on fire prevention has been given with each of the last two parties.
Medford Mail Tribune,
July 28, 1927, page 3

    The matter of the drainage of Bear Creek and keeping the channel open north of the Bear Creek bridge, as was recently done by the city south of that bridge, as a further flood protection and which has been tentatively under consideration by the city officials for some time past, was brought to a head last night when attorney Gus Newbury presented a petition, signed by forty east and west side residents, to the city council in person protesting against a fence that has been built by the Merrick auto camp management on its property extending out to the present channel, as a flood menace and unsightly obstruction.
    Mr. Newbury, in this remarks on the matter, declared that the fence would tend to deflect the present creek channel in case of another flood like that of last February and cause an overflow on east side property adjoining the creek. The petitioners pleaded that the council cause this obstruction to be removed and take such other steps necessary to keep the channel open and unobstructed.
    After a formal discussion of the matter, during which it developed that the situation north of the bridge presented a number of legal tangles and some other channel obstructions, including the fact that the auto camp management was probably within its legal rights in maintaining the fence on its own property, it was thought that the matter could amicably be straightened out by a conference between Mr. Merrick and the city administration so as to enable the city to take steps which would be generally satisfactory.
    Unless an amicable solution can be reached, the city will probably declare Bear Creek a public drainage sewer, which would enable it to go ahead and clear, straighten and widen the channel as a public necessity in flood protection.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 21, 1927, page 3

    Giving Medford one of the most up-to-date swimming pools in the state, the management of the Natatorium is now completing the installation of a new filtration and chlorination system, making it possible for 120 gallons of fresh water to be pumped into the large tank every minute.
    With this system the water will be constantly changed and purified against all possible entrance of impure matters and is being installed at considerable expense. The water is to be drawn from the tank at two different outlets and will be pumped in at the deep water end. The system will be in operation continuously 24 hours daily.
    The tank will probably be opened early this month as soon as the installation has been entirely completed.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 1, 1928, page 2

    The installation of the $1500 chlorinator and filtering system in the Natatorium on North Riverside was completed yesterday by Emerson Dolliyer, representative of the Wallace and Tiernan Company of Seattle, Wash., who has been in the city since Monday. This installation, according to the Seattle man, will keep the water in the local pool free from germs and guard against any transmission of disease through the public use of the pool.
    The filter will also assist in rendering the water of a crystal clearness that will prove an attractive feature for the many local swimmers. "The city of Medford can be proud of the installation of this equipment in the Natatorium's swimming pool, which is not only a great sanitary improvement, but has made this pool one of the finest of its kind in the entire state," he said before the Lions Club today.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 23, 1928, page 2

Germs Not Safe in Nat Plunge, Avers Emerson Merrick
    Ralph Waldo Emerson Merrick of the Natatorium of the Natatorium plunge announces to the public that anyone can come down and take a bath at his place without fear or being bitten by quarrelsome germs.
    He has installed a mechanism called a chlorinator, which injects chlorine into the water under scientific conditions which kills the microbe and at the same time is beneficial to the human system.
    With his new system going full blast, Merrick urges all Bear Creekers interested to drop around and take their annual spring bath. He claims he charges only a moderate fee and in addition to soap, etc., throws in the use of files and rasps free of cost to any who may have skipped a year or two in their washing-all-over program.
Medford News, May 24, 1928, page 3

    Over 300 people took to the water at the Merrick natatorium today during the second classes of the annual Red Cross swimming drive under the supervision of George Hughling, instructor at the University of California, who will be here for ten days.
    This morning at 9 the pool was filled with girls from seven to 14 years of age. timid little maids who couldn't get their feet off the bottom of the tank at the order to "Float" were urged to give up the crab attitude. And they did. Mr. Hughling is recognized as the best swimming teacher on the Coast, and for the past three years the Jackson County Red Cross tried unsuccessfully to get him here.
    Each day lessons begin at 8 o'clock, boys who are just learning going in at that time. From 9 to 10 the beginning class of girls are instructed, and following that advanced classes combining men and women swimmers have the tank. Latest methods in life saving and endurance tests are part of the daily program. After dinner from 7 to 8 o'clock the Natatorium is reserved for older women.
    Miss Lillian M. Roberts, executive secretary of the organization, is assisting in the registration, and Misses Golda Boone, Anna May and Clara Mary Fuson are helping the instructor.
    A recent improvement put in by F. E. Merrick is the continuous purification of water by the means of the chlorine system.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 7, 1928, page B1

    A new office, which will be larger than the old one, is being built at Merrick's auto camp. A $1500 chlorinator has been recently installed to purify the water in the swimming tank. Samples of the tank water tested by the state board of health were reported as fit for drinking.
    In the last few days cars ranging from Paiges to Fords were registered from points all the way from Vermont to California.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 2, 1929, page 3

    Every week is "learn to swim week" at Merrick's natatorium this summer, where daily lessons are conducted by Mr. and Mrs. Fred A. McDonald, expert instructors formerly of Honolulu. Both are full-fledged members of the National Swimming Instructors' Association and have had extensive experience in teaching with the Outrigger Canoe Club in Honolulu, the Hilo Yacht Club, and the State Normal of the Hawaiian Territory.
    There's no age limit when it comes to learning to swim, it seems. One energetic woman of 71 years enrolled in a beginners' class several weeks ago. She practiced along with women and girls half her age and can now swim with the best of them, Mr. McDonald said this morning in discussing his work. The youngest pupil is a brave little girl of four years.
    Miss Lottie Bell McDonald, six-year-old blonde daughter of the instructors, never misses a day's swim. She won the baby championship of the world at the age of two years and eight months, and since coming to Medford has learned to dive in deep water.
    Since the McDonalds began their swimming courses two months ago, 87 good swimmers have been turned out. Sixty-four students are now enrolled for lessons at practically every hour of the day. Three advanced swimmers have been trained by Mr. McDonald and are ready to receive their diplomas entitling them to give instruction.
    "Merrick's natatorium is one of the best equipped and most sanitary in Southern Oregon, and is also one of the best I have ever seen," Mr. McDonald said.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 18, 1929, page 5

    Merrick's Natatorium was the scene of a hilarious afternoon and evening Sunday as hundreds of school boys and girls and some of their parents enjoyed the final day before the tank was emptied for the fall and winter season. The place will be closed until the last of April or the first of May, 1930.
    This summer has been one of the most successful seasons since the Natatorium was opened under the management of the Merricks in 1910. The modern, scientific methods of purifying the water have made the Nat popular with local people and tourists, who consider it one of the best swimming pools in Southern Oregon.
    Much of the success of this is due to Mr. and Mrs. F. A. McDonald, swimming instructors, formerly of Honolulu, who turned out more than 150 satisfactory swimmers during their stay here. They have been secured to return for next season, Mr. Merrick said today.
    Mrs. McDonald is teaching school at Crescent, Ore. near Klamath Falls, and Mr. McDonald expects to leave for Honolulu after several weeks to complete a contract as instructor with the Outrigger Canoe Club.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 9, 1929, page 3

Natatorium ad, 1928-8-14MMT
Medford Mail Tribune, August 14, 1928

    Merrick's Natatorium was officially opened for the summer season Saturday afternoon, with a good-sized crowd in spite of the cool day. The pool will be open every day including Sundays, from 1 p.m. until 9:45.
    The interior of the tank and the walls and floors have all been attractively painted in shades of green and blue. Other improvements have been made so that Merrick's is now one of the most modern and up-to-date swimming pools in the state.
    In compliance with the law of Oregon a complete turnover of water is made every 24 hours by means of the same filtering process which is used by the University of Oregon and the Oregon State College. The water is chlorinated and a test is made each morning to determine the condition of purity.
    Arrangements are under way to secure a high-grade swimming instructor who will probably be in Medford to begin class and private lessons the first week in May, Emerson Merrick said today.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 28, 1930, page 8

    Fire Chief Roy Elliott today tendered an invitation to all boys in Medford of the age of 13 years or under to be his guests at a swimming party to be held at the Natatorium next Tuesday forenoon at 10 o'clock.
    Boys are requested to bring their own suits if possible and to bring slips of paper, having their name and address, for presentation to the chief before they go into the water. The swim party is an annual event given by that official, who will also talk to the boys on fire prevention.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 18, 1930, page 7

Suit by Enyart for Interest and Rental Share in Natatorium
Recalls Promotion and Operation of Amusement Center.

    Names and an institution that figured prominently in the "1910 boom" in this city trod forth today in the suit of J. E. Enyart, former local banker, against F. E. Merrick (deceased), Mrs. Grace D. Brown, widow of W. H. Brown, and H. C. Kentner, former Medford merchant prince, who, with Enyart, promoted and constructed the Natatorium.
    Enyart seeks one-fourth property interest and one-fourth of all rentals. The amount involved is in excess of $30,000. The suit was filed in 1927, and the litigation dates back to 1910.
    Enyart claims in his complaint that with the formation of the Natatorium and Amusement Company, which was incorporated at $50,000, he invested $20,000, besides other monies.
Negotiated Loans
    The complaint recites that in the early days of the Natatorium, $15,000 was borrowed from Col. Gordon Voorhies, with 495 shares of capital stock as security for the note. A few years later, another $15,000 was borrowed from the Wells, Fargo Bank of San Francisco. Enyart asserts that he negotiated the loans, and appears to have been "the financial man" of the enterprise.
    He now seeks a settlement, "without prejudice for an accounting," which includes the sale of land owned by the Natatorium company, now occupied by the building used by the Scherer Motor Company. Three tracts of land belonging to the company were sold.
Deaths Tangle Skein
    In the answer to the complaint the defendants assert that Enyart has been "guilty of laches," which in non-legal language means that he slept on his rights, and that they are hampered in presenting a strong defense, by reason of deaths among those actively identified with the project. F. E. Merrick passed away about a year ago, Clarence L. Reames, former prominent attorney of Southern Oregon and the Northwest, passed in 1928, and W. H. Brown was called in 1915. H. C. Kentner is now in the East.
    The defense sets forth that shortly after the building of the Natatorium lean years beset it, and it was a financial failure. The Merricks operated it at a loss for a number of years.
    In 1921 the tourist travel over the Pacific Highway was at its flood, and the Merricks evolved the plant into a motor inn and auto camp that became nationally known.
Made Profitable
    They paid off, it is asserted, about half of a $160,000 indebtedness, and invested other sums in improvements. By their efforts, the defense contends, the plant was made fairly profitable, and allege that Enyart manifested no interest in its welfare until within the last five years.
    The Natatorium is one of the landmarks of the city, and at the time of its dedication was rated as one of the finest places of its kind on the Pacific coast. In its earlier stages it presented vaudeville and stock company performances. It catered to the dancing, swimming and roller skating public and also boasts a bowling alley.
    The suit is in equity and is being heard before Circuit Judge H. D. Norton. Enyart is represented by attorney A. E. Reames, the defense by attorneys George M. Roberts and Porter J. Neff.

Medford Mail Tribune, December 16, 1930, page 1

F. E. Merrick, April 15, 1912 Medford Mail Tribune
F. E. Merrick, April 15, 1912 Medford Mail Tribune

Hearing of Enyart Plea for Fourth Interest in Properly Reveals Early Financing.
    The hearing in equity of the suit of J. E. Enyart against Mrs. Stella J. Merrick, widow of F. E. Merrick, Mrs. Grace D. Brown, widow of W. H. Brown, and H. C. Kentner, founders of the Natatorium in this city, for a property interest and share of rentals and property sales, continued today in circuit court before Judge H. D. Norton. All concerned were active and well known during the "1910 boom" here.
    Enyart, former Medford banker, of recent years a resident of Los Angeles, seeks a one-fourth interest in the Natatorium property, and the action hinges largely about a $15,000 loan to the Natatorium by Col. Gordon Voorhies, with 495 shares of capital stock as security.
    The plaintiff introduced evidence to show that Enyart placed about $25,000 in the company, W. H. Brown about $17,000, H. C. Kentner about $10,000 and F. E. Merrick $1000. John S. Orth of this city was also an investor in the concern but sold out to the other four stockholders in 1911.
Note Taken Up
    F. E. Merrick took up the $15,000 note held by Colonel Voorhies, making two payments of $7500, and took possession of the 495 shares of capital stock. Enyart claims the stock was held in trusteeship, and the company as a whole, not Merrick, was the owner.
    Later, F. E. Merrick "dissolved the corporation" and retained possession of the property. Enyart holds that he received nothing in exchange for his investment.
    Mrs. Stella J. Merrick, widow of F. E. Merrick, was a witness at the morning session. She testified they sold their home on East Main Street in 1919 and moved into the Natatorium, where the Merrick family strove to place the property on a paying basis. She testified a residence had been established there, and that aside from a year's residence in Sutherlin, Ore., where F. E. Merrick was interested in an oil well, and a short trip to California in the winter, she had lived there continuously.
Sons Aided
    She testified that her son, Emerson, was active in the management and that another son, Walter, had been in charge when the institution was remodeled into a motor inn. Mrs. Merrick denied that Seely V. Hall had any interest except that he was employed on a salary for several months.
    A record of transactions and directors' meetings has been introduced in evidence.
    The defense will be largely based upon the allegation that Enyart was "guilty of laches" and was indifferent to its future until it loomed as a valuable property and that for many years the Merricks by their efforts continued the place and made improvements requiring considerable financial investments.

Medford Mail Tribune, December 17, 1930, page 6

One of Original Backers Identifies Documents As Evidence Suit for Property Share.
    It will apparently take the remainder of the week to hear testimony in the circuit court before Judge H. D. Norton, in the suit of J. E. Enyart against F. E. Merrick, et al., wherein he seeks a one-fourth property interest and one-fourth of land sales in the Natatorium Amusement Company of this city. The history of the "Nat" and its many financial transactions is being told from the witness stand.
    J. E. Enyart, one of the original backers of the institution, was on the stand this morning and identified notes, mortgages, checks and other legal documents issued in the early stages of the Natatorium, when W. H. Brown was president and John S. Orth was secretary. Orth sold out to the other directors in 1911. Enyart was cross-examined by the defense, who are endeavoring to show that the Merricks expended labor and cash to make the place a success.
New Phase Shown.
    The matter of "equitable trusteeship" cropped out today as one of the legal phases in the involved life of the Natatorium. Testimony and documents were introduced to show that F. E. Merrick had liquidated many of the financial obligations, including the payment of the $15,000 borrowed from Col. Gordon Voorhies, and a number of promissory notes.
    It was agreed between counsel that the deposition of Walter D. Merrick of Los Angeles would be taken, instead of having him appear in person.
    After he returned from Oregon Agricultural College, he was manager of the Natatorium in 1912-1913. The plaintiff holds that W. H. Brown was acting in this capacity when the Natatorium was transformed into a motor inn, taking advantage of the heavy Pacific Highway travel, to end the lean years.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 18, 1930, page 7

    Hearing of testimony continued today in the circuit court in the suit of J. E. Enyart against the Merrick family and other stockholders of the Natatorium company.
    Several boxes of documentary evidence was presented, including checks, notes, ledger, daily records, leases, agreements, contracts and memoranda.
    Emerson Merrick, manager of the establishment for the past five years, was on the stand this morning and told details of the business.
    Lease of the ground for Green & Shores' service station was explained by the witness. He said an agreement for the long-time lease included a clause that the rent should be raised proportionate to the increase in population of the city.
    Records of the Natatorium, when it flourished as a motor inn during the height of the Pacific Highway travel, were introduced.
    It is expected that the hearing of the testimony in the case will be completed tomorrow.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 19, 1930, page 4

    Walter D. Merrick of Los Angeles, president of the Los Angeles Press Club, and assistant to the president of the Los Angeles "Express," arrived today for a visit
with his mother, Mrs. Stella J. Merrick, and his brother Emerson Merrick. He will return to Los Angeles tomorrow.

Medford Mail Tribune, January 21, 1931, page 3

    Dust will be shaken from last year's swimming suits and Medford's youth will flock to Merrick's Natatorium Saturday afternoon, April 25, at one o'clock, for that's the time set for opening the pool, Mrs. E. P. Merrick announced today.
    This will be the twenty-first season for the Natatorium, which has undergone extensive improvements during the past few weeks. The interior has been painted marine blue and green, with special water paint being used for the pool, which now presents a cool, inviting appearance.
    Dana Thomas, expert swimming instructor of Portland, Ore., has again been secured to take charge of classes and individual lessons for advanced pupils and amateurs. Medford Mail Tribune, April 22, 1931, page 8

Medford Mail Tribune, May 19, 1931
Medford Mail Tribune, May 19, 1931. More about the Walkathon here.

    The civil action of Jesse E. Enyart against the Natatorium company, Mrs. F. E. Merrick and Emerson Merrick, for a quarter interest in the business amounting to $25,000, and an accounting, was begun this morning in circuit court. Mrs. Grace F. Brown is also named as a plaintiff in the action. All litigants are long-time residents of the city and valley.
    The hearing is a continuation of one started last winter, and the testimony will be a slice of "boomday history" in this city. Enyart claims that he invested money in the Natatorium when it was founded, and that he never withdrew that interest. The defense avers Enyart was "guilty of laches" and allowed his investment to lapse. The Merricks set forth that they weaned the Natatorium back to semi-financial health by hard labor, which reached its peak during the tourist rush after the war, when they transformed a white elephant into a motor inn.
    Names of many well-known Medford citizens appear in the action, including Col. Gordon Voorhies, who loaned money to the project when first launched; John S. Orth, who made one of the initial investments and then withdrew; H. C. Kentner, department store manager of other days, and Col. J. F. Munday.
    It is expected that the present phase of the case will take three days. The plaintiff is represented by attorney A. E. Reames, and the defense by attorneys Porter J. Neff and George M. Roberts.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 25, 1931, page 8

    Emerson Merrick, manager of the Natatorium, was the principal witness yesterday and today in the suit of Jesse E. Enyart for an interest in, and an accounting of, the affairs of the project.
    Merrick's testimony was largely concerned with improvements made by the Merricks and expenditure of money. He read a long list of articles purchased and included everything from pins to Fords.
    Mrs. Grace Brown testified that her husband purchased a one-fourth interest in the Natatorium when it was launched and alleged that this interest was now nonexistent.
    The defense is based on the claim that when other investors retired the Merricks, by hard work and their own finances, after several years of effort increased the Natatorium earnings.

Medford Mail Tribune, May 26, 1931, page 5

    Col. Gordon Voorhies, who loaned the directors of the Natatorium company $15,000 and accepted the stock of the directors as security, was scheduled to take the witness stand this afternoon in the suit of Jesse Enyart and Mrs. Grace Brown for an interest in the Natatorium, and an accounting. Enyart claims he invested $25,000 in the project.
    Col. Voorhies is expected to give testimony of an historic nature and explain his loan, made when the local boom was on the wane.
    In the first hearing of the case last winter, evidence was introduced tending to show that the late F. E. Merrick repaid the $15,000 loan to Col. Voorhies and received the stock held as security. It was also shown that Merrick had assumed other obligations.
    The evidence introduced in the case yesterday and this morning was largely documentary and including an auditor's report on the finances of the Natatorium since its operation was in charge of the Merricks, dating back to 1912 and 1915. The report showed that in this period the Natatorium receipts totaled approximately $286,000 and that the expenditures approximated $156,000.
    A large sheaf of legal papers connected with the affairs of the Natatorium were also introduced as evidence.
    It is expected that the hearing of testimony in the action will be concluded today. The court will take the decision under advisement.
    Enyart is represented by attorney A. E. Reames and the defense by attorneys George M. Roberts and Porter J. Neff.

Medford Mail Tribune, May 27, 1931, page 3

    Mrs. F. E. Merrick, a longtime resident of this city, was the principal witness today at the hearing of the civil action of Jesse Enyart for a share in the Natatorium and an accounting of the concern's finances.
    Mrs. Merrick testified that from 1912 to 1919, the income of the establishment was less than the expenses and the Merricks had used their own funds in paying expenses, taxes, paving assessments and interest on outstanding notes. She testified that the labor necessary for operation had been done by the family.
    Under cross-examination, Mrs. Merrick was unable to state exact figures and answered to many question of attorney Evan Reames "I don't know" or "I don't remember."
    A number of checks, signed by Walter D. Merrick in payment for labor performed by others than the Merrick family, were introduced as evidence.
    The testimony was chiefly concerned with expenses and income and taxes and interest.
    It is expected that the testimony in the case will be concluded late today.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 28, 1931, page 7

    Hearing of testimony in the civil action of Jesse Enyart and Mrs. Grace F. Brown, against the Natatorium Amusement Company, for a share in the business, and an accounting of the finances was completed before Circuit Judge H. D. Norton late Friday. The court has the case under advisement. It was a highly involved action with a mass of documentary evidence.
    There will be no regular session of the circuit court here this week, as Judge Norton has gone to Klamath Falls to preside at the condemnation suits of the Great Northern railroad. Judge W. B. Duncan of Klamath county was disqualified from sitting in these cases and was expected to occupy the local bench, but was detained.
    Judge Norton expects to finish the Klamath session this week and next week will held court in Josephine County.
    Upon his return to the local bench, in mid-June, the first criminal case will be that of the state against Frank Bennett, charged with an alleged statutory offense involving a school girl.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 1, 1931, page 2

Long Litigation Ended by Decision of Judge Norton--
Plaintiff "Guilty of Laches" Declares Court.

    In a decision handed down yesterday by Circuit Judge H. D. Norton, in the suit of Jesse E. Enyart against the estate of F. E. Merrick, for an accounting of the finances of the Natatorium and a share of the property, the claims of Enyart were denied, on the grounds he was "guilty of laches," as the defendants contended.
    In the intervening cross-complaint of Mrs. Grace Brown of this city, for adjudication of alleged rights and sale of Natatorium stock, the court also held in favor of the Merricks and the Natatorium.
    Much of the "boom day" history of the city was written about the construction of the Natatorium. The structure was built in 1910. Enyart, the testimony showed, had invested $25,000 in the project and had afterward forsaken the investment. The Natatorium management contended that Enyart manifested no interest in the Nat until the Merricks had, by "dint of hard labor," built a fairly profitable tourist business around it, under the name of the "Merrick Motor Inn." The Merricks held that to protect their own holdings in the enterprise they had made sacrifices.
    Testimony was introduced at the hearing to show that F. E. Merrick had purchased the stock from other stockholders and had paid Col. Gordon Voorhies of this city a note for $15,000 he held and secured in exchange stock given as security. The books of the Nat showed that when the tourist traffic of the Pacific Highway was at its height the Nat did a good business.
    Enyart filed suit for an accounting four years ago, and the case has been pending during that period. The Merricks were represented by attorneys George M. Roberts and Porter J. Neff, and Enyart by attorney Evan Reames.
    Enyart, a pioneer resident of the city and county, is well known here, and at one time was president of the Medford National Bank. For the last ten years he has been a resident of California.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 1, 1931, page 1

Thousand Youths Sign Up to Learn to Swim
    The Red Cross Swim Campaign plans have been altered to meet the unprecedented registration of a thousand by securing two pools and two instructors.
    Robert Dodge, Jackson County Red Cross safety chairman, said:
    "We have been most fortunate in securing another swimming instructor, Miss Eleanor Coombe, formerly of Ashland. Merrick's in Medford have consented to open their pool for the two-week period so that we may handle the thousand registrants in the county. We had been quite concerned about the transportation for such a large number, but with Merrick's pool we can handle Medford, Phoenix, Jacksonville and surrounding territory there without a transportation problem and can take care of Ashland, Talent, Bellview and adjacent territory at Twin Plunges in Ashland."
    Dodge stated that Mrs. Norma Stearns and Mrs. Doris Stough of Ashland are in charge of registration and supervision of the campaign in that city. More volunteers are badly needed for this work, and any women or men who can help are asked to call Mrs. Stearns or Mrs. Stough as soon as possible.
    According to present plans, the Combat Swimming classes will be held in Medford. The Red Cross swimming instructor from San Francisco will teach the combat swimming for the 40 high school graduates who will be going into service late this summer. These classes will be held in the evening from seven to nine. This instructor will be in charge of the entire campaign in Medford at the Merrick pool. Schedule of classes will be announced later.
    Mrs. John Day, chairman of the Red Cross Staff Ass't. Corps, will be in charge of volunteers assisting at the Merrick pool in registration, checking and supervision. Call Red Cross office 4405 or 3137.
    All qualified life savers or waterfront lifeguards are asked to offer their help immediately at the Red Cross office.
    Since the Merrick pool has not been open to the general public for several years, no attempt can be made by the management to redecorate, but the pool itself and locker rooms will be put into proper condition through the fullest cooperation of the Merrick management.
Medford News, June 8, 1945, page 2

    The city fire department was called out on a general alarm at 3 a.m. today to extinguish a fire in a beer parlor in the Merrick building on North Riverside Avenue, owned by Jack Moad. The fire was caused by an electric wire from the volume control in a juke box.
    The fire, confined to one room, caused considerable damage, burning out all of the inside of the parlor. No one was in the building at the time.
    The department's two big trucks responded to the blaze, and firemen said if they had been called 10 minutes later, the whole building would probably have been lost.
    Several persons have called the fire department this morning to compliment them on their fine work in handling the fire, according to Fire Chief Roy Elliott, and while he said the calls were very much appreciated he requested that the public when calling for reasons other than reporting a fire use telephone number 3790. Number 3333 is for fire only.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 25, 1947, page 1

The New Nomads' Needs
    After Labor Day weekend (it seems almost impossible that it is arriving already, so swiftly has the summer gone) the pressure on Oregon's camps and beaches will drop off sharply.
    But for the hardy lover of the outdoors, who braves the chill and an occasional shower, the camping season isn't over. It is, though, for most folk, who have youngsters in school and who now are getting ready to buckle down for the long pull to Thanksgiving and Christmas.
    The pressure on the camps and resorts and waterways will resume next year--and judging by all the signs, it will be heavier and more demanding than ever.
    One phenomenon of the new craze for the outdoors is the vacationist who doesn't camp only for the thrill of sleeping outside of walls. He is the one who turns back the clock 40 years, and camps out because of its ease, convenience and economy.
    Thus there is a full circle.
    Shortly after World War I, when automobiles and highways were in their first real spurt of popularity and development, "camping" with a tent was an accepted means of travel.
    Gradually, "cabin camps" grew up to accommodate these folk, who liked their ease and availability, and preferred them to the more formal hotels.
    Cabin camps evolved into motels. And motels are now evolving too, into luxurious "motor hotels," with all the conveniences and luxuries the mind can dream up.
    They are the new caravansaries, and even the hotels are adapting many of the techniques and advantages to their own purposes--such things as swimming pools, drive-in check-ins, and so on.
    But meanwhile, the traveler, an independent sort of cuss, has in increasing numbers gone back to the tent, the camp, and the cheap and unbuttoned ease of the outdoors. And once again cities are eying these travelers as they did four decades ago.
    There was a "public camp" on the banks of Bear Creek, just north of the Main Street bridge, in 1920. It lacked conveniences, to be sure, and the city fathers weren't particularly proud of it.
    So, in April of 1922, the city purchased the property for $6,500, and by summer had improved it considerably for the accommodation of the traveling public.
    It was adjacent to the then public market, and to the Natatorium (that old Medford landmark which finally was torn down only a few years ago).
    It was landscaped, trees were planted, outdoor stoves installed, and eventually there were lavatories with hot and cold running water. As time went on, cabins were added.
    For a time the "camp" extended for a distance on both sides of Bear Creek, and the Mail Tribune in those days of the early '20s had frequent little stories reporting the number of campers who had spent the night there--campers in high-wheeled "touring" cars with food box and tent strapped to bumper and running board. (Know what a "running board" was, junior?)
    In 1926 it was leased to Walter Merrick, operator of the Natatorium, who ran it for the city for some years under a franchise.
    Then, as "motels" succeeded "public camps" and "cabin camps," it gradually fell into partial disuse, and by the time the Natatorium property changed hands, the tent camp had vanished and only a few cabins remained.
    Other cities up and down the Pacific Highway maintained similar public camps for varying periods of years in the '20s and '30s. Eugene was one of them.
    The Eugene Register-Guard reports it was a common sight to see traveling families pitching their tents in the park at the base of Skinner's Butte.
    And the Oregon Statesman in Salem reported that in those days cities vied with one another to provide "auto camp grounds" for those making "motor tours" of the state.
    The Statesman said:
    "It may not be necessary for cities to go into the campground business again, but it looks as though the pressure for camping accommodations will increase on state and federal agencies serving the touring public. We may find operators of motels and trailer parking lots adding sections for the tenting nomads of the motor age."
    And the Register-Guard adds:
    "Indeed we may. At least it would seem that our cities would gain business they are now missing out on almost entirely. And, if the tent and trailer vacationists could be induced to visit us overnight in numbers anything like those counted in the coast and mountain parks, this would add up to a considerable gain in what is already credited as our third largest industry."
    Medford's camp is long gone.
    As a matter of fact, the closest place to pitch a tent in a developed campground is probably the Forest Service camp at McKee Bridge, which is now so overcrowded that overnight use is banned on weekends.
    There are other Forest Service camps at greater distances, and there is the new Laurelhurst state park up the Rogue [now under Lost Creek Lake].
    But close to Medford there is nowhere that these new nomads of the road, who travel with a pocket full of money and disdain more elegant accommodations by choice, can pitch their tents and buy their groceries, camping equipment, and other necessities.--E.A. [Eric Allen]
Medford Mail Tribune, September 1, 1960, page 4

Last revised March 17, 2024