I recalled that Elizabeth Johnston had donated some documents to be stored in the Georgia Room at Woodstock Public Library, and I had also kept a file of newspaper clippings and photos for the collection held by Preservation Woodstock.
Going through all the items gave me a new appreciation, not only for the SCRA founders, but for the hundreds of volunteers, leaders, workers, and fans, and the generosity of businesses, civic groups, and foundations … not to mention the generations of Woodstock area residents who played at the park located on the river bottoms at Little River on Old Highway 5 north of town.
Although in recent decades residents have probably taken the organization for granted, during those early years it was blood, sweat, and tears. In 1963, the nearest sports programs were in Canton and Cobb County.
SCRA accomplished the impossible. They organized and operated without assistance from a single government entity. This is still true today.
After the initial meeting on Jan. 15, 1963, local citizens led by Smith Johnston, Mayor Bill Drinkard, and other interested individuals, began the necessary procedures, leasing land from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, applying for a non-profit charter, and enlisting the help of the general public.
Originally called Woodstock Recreation Association, the name was changed before the granting of the charter on May 10, 1963. A few other changes were made for the amended charter dated March 22, 1965.
The stated object and purpose of the organization was “to promote and develope (sic) recreation facilities and programs for the citizens and especially the youth of the Woodstock community area and not for personal gain or profit.”
A later entry in meeting minutes sheds light on another aspect, “by providing a summer athletic program and also boosting our athletic program at the school.” Young Smith, SCRA’s first recreational director, was a teacher and physical activities director at Woodstock Elementary.
Looking back, it’s easy to see that SCRA was not a stand-alone, new organization, but simply a catalyst to further the strong sense of what was already a close-knit, vibrant community with common goals and hopes for the future. It was unique in its relationship with a variety of other local groups.
Minutes of business meetings are filled with notes about the Garden Club, Lions Club, Woodstock Junior Woman’s Club, Woodstock School PTA, Woodstock Saddle Club, and South Cherokee Jaycees and their various contributions. Accompanying lists give a glimpse of the huge volume of volunteers and the hours they devoted to the park, its upkeep and its events.
Volunteers used all manner of fundraisers in the early years. Couples signed up to man week-at-a-time concessions. Chicken suppers and other food-related events called for crowds of volunteers to cook, serve, sell tickets, and clean up.
For at least five consecutive years, an August horse show was held at the park as a major fundraiser. Led by local physician Dr. A. Evan Boddy and supported by members of SCRA and Woodstock Saddle Club including Ringmaster Ed “Hoss” Roberts, the event became a true headliner for SCRA and its programs.
One fundraiser turned out to be a “star in our crown.” The association cooperated with the editors of a neighboring newspaper in securing a newspaper for Woodstock, The Woodstock Star.
SCRA would receive $1 for each subscription sold. The Star remained in print for almost a decade and left us with a priceless record of the town’s history during that time.
There were generous donors to the SCRA cause. Georgia Power, the Coca-Cola Co., and many local businesses donated time, money, and in-kind service, and there were numerous team sponsors, individuals and businesses. In a thank-you note written to L.L. Jones with the Jones Foundation in Canton, Smith Johnston is expressing appreciation for a $500 gift, and closes the note with these words: “The only complaint I have had so far is from my son, Smith, age 8, who objected to the weed pulling required of him in clearing one of the areas. This objection I consider something less than serious.” Just another indication of the wide participation of the general public.
Today’s SCRA is far removed from that magical time. But it is still a crucial part of the sports segment of Woodstock’s culture. It has expanded in space and in the scope of its activities, but remains true to its original structure.
For information and an opportunity to be a part of SCRA, contact Dave Galasso at (770) 318-7923.
Juanita Hughes is Woodstock’s official historian and former director of the Woodstock Public Library.