Early History of the Fairfield Sportsmen’s Association
As Remembered, in 1986, by Harold Clevenger, Unofficial Historian
Part I – November 1966
A discussion on forming a gun club was started by O’Dell Brinegar, a tool & die maker at the Fisher Body plant in Fairfield, in the latter part of 1966. He gained the knowledge that the Director of Civilian Marksmanship would allot a certain amount of ammunition and the loan of military firearms to clubs that were affiliated with the National Rifle Association and who had registered with the DCM (Department of Civilian Marksmanship). He felt that these loaned firearms and free ammo would have a great attraction to quite a few men and perhaps would be the basis for the starting of a club, I think.
It was mentioned that another reason for forming a club would be that the City of Fairfield would lease to a club, when it was formalized, a parcel of land for “one dollar” a year. The club would build and maintain a range and the Fairfield Police would have a place to shoot. Everything sounded great.
A meeting to determine membership interest was scheduled for January 22, 1967, 1:00 P.M., in the Fairfield City Building. Notices to this effect were published in the local newspaper. The meeting took place and was held in the Council Chambers; O’Dell Brinegar chaired the event with Mel Schroeder assisting and I agreed to take notes. Thirty five men and women were in attendance.
The persons attending were welcomed by the Fairfield City Chief of Police and the Safety Service Director. Both men were in favor of the forming of such a club. The first piece of business for this “yet to be club” was to set the dues at ten dollars per year and to affiliate with the National Rifle Association. Before stepping forward to sign on the dotted line, everyone introduced themselves and told about their shooting interest.
We also decided to hold the sign-up list open until the end of the week since there were people who wanted to be on the “Charter List”, but could not attend the meeting (mostly tool & die makers employed at Fisher Body, Fairfield who were scheduled to work that Sunday).
On a temporary basis, O’Dell Brinegar agreed to the position of President, Mel Schroeder as Vice-President, and I would take on the duties of Secretary/Treasurer. Elections would follow after the club was formalized.
We would need a name to put on the application to the NRA and on our bank account. It was agreed that we would be known as the “Fairfield Rifle & Pistol Club”.
Mel Schroeder suggested the monies in the treasury should be kept in a Fairfield bank. The 2nd National Bank was selected.
As I recall, everyone signed up. Edna Antes, a reporter from the Hamilton Journal News, took a couple of pictures, joined the club, and that was the end of the meeting. The end of the week arrived and we had 88 member’s names to send to the NRA for our charter. We anxiously waited for our charter papers arrival, and after a couple of phone calls to the NRA by O’Dell, the papers did arrive. We now felt we were officially the “Fairfield Rifle & Pistol Club”, but had no place even resembling a shooting range. Now what? The next few weeks were filled with many discussions, ideas and thoughts being exchanged. Also, a lot of paperwork for the DCM (Department of Civilian Marksmanship) was being compiled and we were still signing up members.
There were informal discussions with Fairfield city officials about just exactly where this so called property was located. I never did know the where-a-bouts of it and remember becoming somewhat pessimistic about the whole project.
After a meeting with the Fairfield City Council, we realized that the thought of a firing range within the city limits was out of the question. There were no areas with sufficient safety margins for such a project, and we did not have enough money to construct backstops, butts, or berms. Looking back, I think the thought of city property for a firing range was just a rumor which may have been started by someone in the police department. We did make one last effort for a shotgun range that could be established down near the river, just south of the sewage treatment plant.
Mr. H. Kempel made a detailed geographical drawing of that area and Russ Hartel made a color coded technical illustration that accompanied it. These drawings gave the distance required for maximum safety, shot fall area, etc, and were elaborate in detail and clarity. This was formally presented to the Fairfield City Council and again we were turned down with a big fat “NO”.
So there we were, a bona fide gun club on paper with no place to shoot.
Part II – Spring, 1967 – The Lick Road Property
We were still using the Fairfield City Council Chambers for our once a month meetings on Sunday afternoon. (Most of us were second shift tool & die makers at the Fisher Body Plant) I think the city was getting annoyed at us so we moved our meetings across the street to the basement activity room of the Dollar Federal Savings & Loan. It was at the same time that we discovered the Lick Road property. I say “We”, but it was actually O’Dell who was out beating the bushes to find a place to shoot. Several places had been suggested to us and we investigated these but none met our requirements. O’Dell traveled south on River Road out of Fairfield, parallel to the Great Miami River. There was the usual spot where men, boys, and women would pull off to shoot along the river bank, a very unsafe way to shoot. (There is still a location like this across the river from our present property).
There was a dirt road that ran up over a hill across the road from the river, at a point where the Cincinnati Water Works plant now stands. There was just a small facility there at this time. I point this out because we later had a “discussion” with these people. Anyway, O’Dell discovered the Lick Road property when he went over the hill.
Lick Road runs north of Kemper Road just east of where the “Sportsmen 25” club used to be located. They were a help in our third attempt to get this club into action, more about them later.
Lick Road, off Kemper Road, dead ends just past some property owned by an elderly couple. Their home sat on a small hill and the few acres behind it had a huge hole which was left by the mining of gravel. There was not a level spot in the hole.
O’Dell knocked on the door of the home and spoke to the owners and simple as that, was given permission to use it for our plinking enjoyment. No money was involved. Just knock on the door to let them know who you were and go ahead and set up a target and shoot.
We could now go back to our membership, which numbered over 100, and tell them we had a place to shoot, be that what it may.
We decided to sponsor a “Turkey Shoot” as we approached the 4th of July weekend. We busied ourselves with the making of target stanchions by taking five gallon buckets, salvaged from somewhere, filling them half way with concrete and inserting steel sign poles. To these we attached a board at the top of the pole for the placement of the target. We made about ten or twelve of these units and the cost was zero. Everything was salvaged, donated, or borrowed. I recall that the foreman at Hilltop Concrete said the concrete was too small of an amount to pay for and wished us success. Those target holders stayed around for a long time and in the early days were used on our present property.
We also constructed, from wood, a large A-frame to hang small plates from. The “Turkey Shoot” would have a booth for shooters with. 22 cal. rifles; bust a plate and win a prize. I should note that most all the prizes were donated from local merchants and some were purchased at a very low price, such as water jugs that cost us a quarter. Racks were also made to hold paper targets for the pistol enthusiast. Their targets were paper bullseye and would vary in size, didn’t matter, just hit the paper and you won a prize. It would cost a buck to enter. We were having a good time and were going to make a little noise on the 4th of July.
Art Bartesko worked for the Fairfield City Maintenance Department and he contacted Coca Cola about getting one of the small Coke trailers for the big day. This was done and he took care of selling soda pop on the day of the event. Art passed away many years ago.
To help attract the more serious shotgunners, Mark Pierson suggested we use a contraption of his called the “Crazy Quail”. This thing was a hand loaded, hand cocked, hand fired trap device mounted on a pedestal with the trap on one side and a seat on the other side and the whole contraption would rotate 360 degrees. A piece of plywood was set up around the thing to protect the operator. Tickets would be sold to ten shooters and each shooter got to try his skill at ten targets. When the shooter called for his targets, the man behind the plywood would let one fly and then rotate the machine to a different direction for the next shot. The shooter always got an exciting target which could fly in any direction, and always did. The best score out of the ten man squad got the prize.
The unit was set near the end of Lick road so we could utilize the firm surfaces for a firing line. Of course, the machine was set about 15 yards off the road and required some digging to get it in position and this was done a couple of days before the big day.
It was on the eve of the event that we met a very irate employee of the Cincinnati Water Works and the firing line was slightly on their property and he did not like it one little bit. The machine was on “our” property.
Noah Creech, Mayor of Fairfield and a member of our club, called the Cincinnati Water Works to see if we couldn’t go ahead and use the property for this one event and then we would move the contraption to another location. They would not allow it and we did have to move our contraption to another location and that was no small job, but it got done. We all vowed to never drink Cincinnati water.
The morning of the shoot arrived, along with about two inches of rain. Needless to say, mud was everywhere. Workers arrived in rain slickers and boots and we set up the targets “out there” in the mud. The Coca Cola wagon had been dropped off the night before and it was now in a pool of water and had to be retrieved and moved to high ground. The weather cleared up around noon and the “turkey shooters” started drifting in (no pun) and later in the day the boys from “Club 25” dropped in to support us and to try their skill at the “Crazy Quail”. They were very supportive of our adventure. Came the end of the day and we declared our first attempt at a shoot mildly successful and planned for a few more in the future and especially for the fall season. After each shoot, depending on how we did, we would make a small donation to the old couple who owned the property. We didn’t want it all.
During that summer (’67) we decided we needed to get some of those mounds of earth leveled so as to make for nicer (if that was possible) shooting conditions. Lucky Young was a contractor in the road construction business and at that time was in the Kenwood area of Cincinnati working on the construction of I-71. I never did learn from O’Dell Brinegar how he did it or who he knew, but one Saturday morning Lucky Young had one of his drivers deliver to us one of the biggest bulldozers I had ever seen. It was ours for the weekend. O’Dell was given a brief lesson on how to run a bulldozer and he proceeded to move those mounds of earth. I couldn’t believe it! I must call O’Dell sometime and see if he remembers this and find out how he got that bulldozer.
That afternoon, Tom Boughen (Charter Member), was on the dozer when it sank in a quagmire. We had to call in a heavy duty wrecker to help get it out of the mud and that cost $35.00 – – – BOY! Were we hav’in fun?
We did sponsor several more Turkey Shoots that fall.
Part III – January, 1968 – The Indoor Range
It was in January ’68 and we still had access to the Lick Road property, but it was awfully cold and very little, if any, activity was going on. O’Dell Brinegar gave the club a big boost at the January meeting when he announced the discovery of the indoor range in the old Navy Armory Building on Fair Avenue in Hamilton.
The building was under the control of the Butler County Commissioners and O’Dell had already talked to them about the possibility of us using the range facilities. We could and we did. I believe the fact that one of the commissioners was a friend of O’Dell’s might have helped.
There were only four firing points on the range and some work had to be done. A partition to block off the rest of the building had to be built. A new dead bolt and lock for the back door was installed and an oil space heater (a second hand unit, which never worked very well) was put in place. The range was very dirty and had to be cleaned. Looking back; I believe we all probably suffered from some degree of lead poisoning.
We finally got the place fairly presentable and started using it. There was one restriction to its use; the commissioners required us to have a “Range Officer” present whenever the range was being used. We then got into the certification of firearm instructors by the NRA. Only a certified instructor could have a key to the range. This worked out very well.
Although not very plush, the range was used quite a bit. We had instruction classes with Boy Scouts and church groups as well as Home Firearm Safety Courses for the ladies. I recall one lady who would not touch one of those things but did finally complete the course and was pleased when she finally did fire a couple shots…Cliff Cates was a smooth instructor. And in keeping with our public spirited image, the Fairfield Police Department also used the facilities.
We used that range less than a couple of years because the interest and energy required to maintain it dropped off after we found our present property. The keys were given to the commissioners. They were not the original commissioners, and, did not know they had a range, or, that we had been using it. The building was eventually razed.
Also, for the year 1968, we entered into an informal agreement with the Lick Road property owners to lease their property. I believe the figure was about $350.00. It was a rather loose agreement because in the spring the owners gave someone else permission to start mining gravel again. We thought all that stuff had been depleted because all we saw was mud when it rained.
After consulting with attorney, Gus Condo (we should have done that first), we moved our turkey shoot stanchions and Crazy Quail off the property. We did not recover any of our lease money. Gus Condo was a Hamilton attorney and was active in Izaak Walton activities and sympathetic to our endeavors. He also suggested that we incorporate and performed the necessary papers to incorporate and we did and were incorporated that May in ’68. I believe it was all pro-bono.
The search was again on for property suitable for our needs.
The club had grown to about 180 members.
Part IV – Spring, 1968 – “The Rocker Farm”, New Baltimore, Crosby Township
I do not recall exactly who went on the next expedition with O’Dell in search of property. I believe it was Dick Koth and Mark Pierson. It was a Saturday morning and they ventured south, following the Great Miami River as it flowed. O’Dell wanted to investigate some property on Rt. 128 near the river that had been listed for sale. I wondered why, we didn’t have any money.
The property was flat river bottom land in the area where Stricker’s Grove is presently located. The asking price was $750.00 an acre. It was very much out of our range; we had just a little over $1,000.00 in the bank.
Well, it was nice weather for the boys to venture out and see the countryside and they noticed this ridge running along the south end of that cornfield and decided to investigate. It was as though the Red Sea had parted, the Fountain of Youth had been discovered, and the Pacific Ocean had been found! Does this sound extreme? You were not there when O’Dell told me about this place. . . He had a tremendous amount of enthusiasm.
He told me what a natural place it would be for a gun club to be located on and develop. Butts and berms had already been established by the surface mining of gravel. It was flood plain property (we found this out for sure later on) and there were already areas for each section of our club. (We wanted to establish a club that could encompass all the shooting disciplines). This property had the potential for maybe a 500 yard rifle range, a good area for the pistol shooters and a large enough area for a couple of trap fields and a skeet field. It also had a small lake for fishing. The property, according to O’Dell, was absolutely beautiful.
He was anxious to show it to me so I picked him up on a Monday morning (we were on the evening shift) and we drove down and took a look. WOW!! The entrance road was so overgrown with briar bushes you had to keep the window shut to keep from getting scratched. And the road was so deep with mud holes I thought I might lose my ’65 Chevy Impala.
The area for the shot-gunners was a field of weeds and had several large, I mean large, mounds of earth scattered about.
The area for the pistol shooters was a pit filled with a mangrove of scrubby trees.
The area for rifle shooters did have a berm on two sides but there was also a forest of Sycamore trees.
The lake was as he described it.
It was, as O’Dell said, a perfect place to establish a gun club. But could we rent the place and could we make it suitable for our members? The sign at the entrance said “No Trespassing, Allied Chemical Corp”. We would call.
The Allied Chemical Company’s subsidiary in Cincinnati is the Barret Paving Materials Division and they were, and I suppose still are, located across the river on East Miami River Road. The manager was Mr. Paul Farst.
The land was for sale and the price was $25,000.00. This figured to be about $300.00 an acre. . . Not a bad price.
After a lot of discussion among ourselves we decided to propose to the property owner, a five year lease with option to buy. This we did and presented the proposal to Mr. Farst. He forwarded the proposal to the Allied Chemical Company offices in New York City. They sent a couple of fellas down from New York City and they countered with $30,000.00 and an eighteen month lease. The lease would cost $500.00 per six months for a total of $1,500.00.
The $30,000.00 figure, we felt, was still a good price but the eighteen month lease might put us in a bind. We didn’t know? What the heck…..go for broke? We signed the lease.
The lease started on July 1, 1968. We had 185 members and the books of the treasury showed $1,581.93.
The first order of business at the next meeting was to raise the annual dues from ten to $20.00. The next item was to start the wheels rolling on getting some posters made informing the shooting population about this club. This was done and the posters were put in every gun store and anyplace else we could plaster them in the Cincinnati and Hamilton area. Our goal was to attain a membership of 500 in eighteen months. There was no initiation fee at this point in time. We felt these figures would perhaps help us reach a goal of $10,000.00 before the eighteen month lease was up. All we had to do was build a facility and convince about three hundred more people that this would be a good place to shoot and hope they would sign up for membership.
Part V – July, 1968 – Go for Broke
The property we had just leased was known as the Rocker Farm; a name taken from the original owners, when it was a farm. We, The Fairfield Rifle and Pistol Club, as I mentioned previously, incorporated in May, 1968 and it was then that the name was changed to the “Fairfield Sportsmen’s Assn., Inc.” Most of you will remember that 1968 was a year of much turmoil and many people believed “Rifle and Pistol” had a bad sound. Now nobody would realize we were a gun club. (Ha!)
Not to get off on another subject, but if we were going to rename the organization, I thought the name “The Rocker Farm Group” would have a nice ring, after all, we were nowhere near Fairfield and the original thought had been stymied the year before.
The first month we had the property was wasted with discussion and I think maybe shock. We didn’t know what to do first with this 84 acres. We now had property but our funds were limited, the books showed $1,581.93. We finally made the decision to spend our money and build a trap field and a clubhouse. We hired a local excavator to level enough land to establish an area for our number one trap field and the clubhouse. This cost us $300.00.
Next we purchased a garage from Sutherland Lumber Co. at a cost of $534.71…..this would serve has our clubhouse. And of course there was concrete to buy and forms to build. We would need a trap. Somebody came up with an old Black Diamond Trap machine for about a hundred bucks. I don’t recall who located that machine as everything was starting to move fast and it was August and very hot. We needed electric; Cincinnati Gas and Electric would have to set some poles to get it to our site and we couldn’t wait. Clyde Schmidt (charter member) had a gas powered generator and loaned it to us so we could get started with the construction. We had good turn outs for our daily work parties. Most of us tool and die makers were on the evening shift at Fisher Body, Hamilton and spent the mornings pounding a lot of nails. There were a few who picked up on the project in the evening hours.
I think I should insert here that perhaps why the work parties were so successful was because one morning when we were showing the crew from C.G. & E. where we wanted to run the electric, we disrupted a couple enjoying the morning in the sun in their “altogether”. I think the work parties got to our site early in case they might “interrupt” the sun bathers. Never saw them again!
When the garage construction was going pretty good, a few of the men broke off from that work party and started the construction work on trap house number one and the walkways. Concrete block culls were purchased to save money, I remember one vocal member kept insisting we could not do any of this construction because the ground had not sufficiently settled and it would all break apart by spring and we should wait. Ray Zellner, a rifle shooter, told him to watch (Ray was already laying block) and continued to work. I point out this small incident because we did have our share of nay-sayers. Later, this nay-sayer got so upset with us that he took his “Crazy Quail” device and quit the club. Trap field number one is still standing and in good shape.
The forms for the walks on trap field number one were made from wood salvaged from racks that were no longer needed by Fisher Body in Fairfield. The wood had accordian shaped metal strips on them for the stacking of metal car parts. This metal was stripped off and used for the reinforcement of the concrete walks. Not the ideal material to use, but the walks are still there, and as I’ve mentioned, we did not have a lot of money. We later “shot” these walks with a transit and found them to be level within a quarter inch. Not too bad for having just used a large carpenter level to install the forms.
Things were looking good and we put out bulletins announcing our opening day shoot to be held on October 20, 1968…..and we just made it. Our treasury was down to about $300.00 and we had to buy clay targets and a case of ammo to have on hand and we needed 45 feet of copper wire for our electric hookup. A local anonymous auto manufacturer donated the wire and C.G. & E. energized our building on 18th of October. Extension cords, on October 20 would supply the power to the trap.
Part VI – October 20, 1968 – Opening Day
The weather for the big day was beautiful, warm and sunny. We, of course, were there early. We put up a temporary flag pole, made from a sapling, and secured it on top of a mound of earth where the dumpster and electric panel now sit. We raised “Old Glory”. We were ready!
We had about $180.00 remaining in the bank.
Around noon the shooters started arriving and we had a great turn out and good support from the local shooting fraternity. Quite a few of the boys bought a membership. We had fifteen cases of clay targets on hand and it wasn’t long before Dick Koth took his station wagon to club 25 and borrowed ten more cases. These guys helped us again; not only by supporting the shoot but by the loan of targets. You ask “how many cases do we use now? Over 5000 cases a year. (Note: over 10,000 cases in ‘98)
On this big day we also utilized those concrete bucket stanchions from the Lick Road days and they were set up over where the skeet fields are now located. Gene Tipton (Charter Member who later relieved me and assumed the duties of the Secretary) ran a “Turkey Shoot” over there and kept the shooters interested while waiting for their turn on a trap squad. Also, Ray Zellner and Carl Jeffries, tool & die makers from Continental Can, set up some targets and ran several events for the rifle shooters. We were trying to show the shooters that this was going to be a facility for whatever type of shooting you enjoyed.
It was a very encouraging day, we had a good crowd of shooters, quite a few joined the club and a lot of those people are still members today. A lot of work had been done in the preceding weeks. Little did we know the can of worms we had just opened and/or how much work would be required (and done) in the next few months and years? Little did we know!
The books of the treasury showed $768.60 for October 30, 1968, a nice increase from the October 20 figure. We were going for broke, we were either going to make it, or walk away from it in eighteen months.
Part VII – Winter 1968-1969. A lot of shooting and a lot more work.
The property was a beehive of activity. We shot trap on Sunday afternoon (all volunteer help) and constructed and or repaired equipment during the week. I never went to the club without membership papers, I was still Secretary, Treasurer, and Membership Chairman, and at that time was accepting new memberships whenever and wherever the person applied.
Reatha, my wife, was kept busy answering our phone, jotting down names, addresses, etc., of people wanting to join. There was no initiation fee, no waiting period, no formal acceptance, no voting upon. If you had twenty bucks you qualified. It was a lousy system (hey, we weren’t always perfect); many times I was handed a person’s name, address, etc. on the torn off flap of an envelope or scrap of paper with twenty bucks attached and that was it. It may have been a bad system but it produced a lot of good members. I was certainly glad when we got some sanity in the process.
I recall one gentleman who joined that fall was Mr. Denver Franklin (Oct ’68), owner of Delta Pipe Line Construction. His business was slow during the winter months and he “stored” a couple of bulldozers with us. He also “stored” an oil tank and pump, the tank was full of diesel fuel.
O’Dell Brinegar and Jerry Jones were on temporary lay-off that winter and I believe they probably qualified for their Operating Engineers License that winter. They moved material to fill in where the skeet fields are now located. They dozed out the scrubby trees and built up the butts for the pistol range. And they changed the way the road comes into the parking lot and built the parking lot. Originally, the road circled around two or three huge piles of earth, just missing the back of trap number two and continued on between where the flag pole and fireplace are now located. Those mounds are now the parking lot.
The generosity of Mr. Franklin is just one example of the many this club received in its early years. And we can’t forget the many cold hours O’Dell and Jerry spent sitting on those dozers.
John Sebastian remembers the time he was sitting on the clubhouse floor with the guts of our old Black Diamond trap spread out around him. John was our first trap “mechanic” (among other things) and was in the process of repairing the thing so as to have it ready for the next Sunday. Many were the times that a bad part was removed and taken into the shop and reproduced and replaced without delay; one of the advantages of being a tool and die maker and having access to the necessary machinery to produce the part. Well anyway; a fellow by the name of Dick Ramsey (Nov ’68) walked in and wanted to join the club……. but only if we would allow him to clear the growth and build an archery course “over there”. As Paul Harvey would say, “you know the rest of the story”. We collected his twenty bucks. He and Mrs. Ramsey spent many hours on that project.
I think a picture is forming as to the basic caliber of a lot of the people who were joining the club. They were Magnum. We always asked what a new member’s occupation was, and still do…… Hopefully to gain help and advice for whatever project the club embarked upon. We did not spend any more money than was absolutely necessary.
Projects were started only if we had the item and/or material donated, and the labor. One such project was the removal of a building in Dayton.
Elmer Begley (Jan ’68) worked for Hi Voltage Inc. and they had a construction office in Dayton, Ohio. We could have the material from this building if we tore it down. The building was not very old and had some nice two by fours and two by sixes and was covered with three quarter plywood. We rounded up about 15 able bodies, spent $35.00 for a rental truck and traveled to Dayton early one morning. We tore down the building, cleaning the wood as we did so and stacked it in the truck. We also removed chain link fence and brought it back with us as well.
The wood was used to build our first skeet houses. As I recall, Howard Franks (Feb ‘68) Bob Zeinner (Oct ‘68) built a Hi House and a Lo House and the skeet operation got underway. The rest of the wood was used to construct the roof for the old pistol range firing line.
And yes, we did shoot, it was not always work, it just seemed that way. The rifle and pistol ranges were busy with plinkers, rock busters, weed hummers, and a scattering of serious target shooters. These ranges developed more fully a few years later. The boys on the trap fields were still setting and pulling their own targets and the desk was managed by volunteers. We eventually did splurge for a couple of trap boys to set the targets.
Our membership roster was growing and our savings account was getting larger. Could we reach our goal of ten thousand dollars by the end of our lease?
Part VIII – October, 1969 – The Big Purchase
As you recall, we had leased the property for an eighteen month period at a cost of $500.00 per half year and we were nearing the end of that eighteen month period. Our goal had been to establish ourselves as a responsible organization, to obtain a membership of 500 members and to build a treasury of $10,000.00, which would be a third of the purchase price of the property.
We did all this with the exception of the membership and the count there was about 470 members….. close enough. We had, I believe, established a “Five Star” credit rating by paying all our bills and invoices promptly. Our savings account was close to $11,000.00 and that figure would be higher by the end of the year.
We believed those figures were excellent and anticipated no problems in attaining a loan from our bank. After all, who would have a better record of our financial responsibility than our own bank?
We were banking at 2nd National Bank in Fairfield on Pleasant Ave. and the manager had not indicated there would be even a hint of any problem; in fact, he encouraged us and welcomed the loan application. We applied for a $20,000.00 loan.
Imagine our feelings when our bank informed us about a week later that our loan application had been turned down. “We were not a responsible organization”……..”A poor risk”……..”The bank would end up with a worthless piece of property”.
Well…..What now? Needless to say we were disappointed; it was time to fall back and regroup. O’Dell Brinegar (still President) and I gathered up the books of the treasurer and set out on a rainy Thursday morning (the weather fit our mood) and we made applications at several lending institutions. I recall going to Dollar Federal to fill out an application and I recall submitting one at a small Building & Loan in Ross. I do not recall the results, but I think they were negative.
We went thru the motion at about four places that morning. The last place we visited was the Rentschler Building in Hamilton, home of the Citizens Bank. I believe the gentleman we talked to was a Mr. Beer. I definitely recall that he was very pleasant and seemed to be genuinely interested in us, our club, and our need. I also remember that he did seem impressed with our treasury books and all that we had accomplished in the past sixteen months. Would they accept a loan application? Would they give us a loan? We filled out the loan application.
Yes! They called about a week later and yes, they approved the loan application. We were elated, to say the least. An appointment was made to go over the details. The loan would be in the amount of $21,000.00 (they suggested we keep $2000.00 in reserve) for a 12 year period at eight percent interest and the monthly payments would be $227.40 and the closing date was set for December 30, 1969. We did some other legal signing to allow us to keep our savings in 2nd National until the interest was added after the first of the year. We opened a new checking account with Citizens bank (there was a branch just up the street from me). Several of our members did the same and closed their accounts with 2nd National, as well.
I think a plus factor in our favor with The Citizens Bank was the fact that Mr. Dick Rentschler was an avid outdoorsman and perhaps sympathetic to what we were trying to accomplish.
It was with a great deal of satisfaction that I was then able to compose and mail the following letter:
November 20, 1969
Mr. H.P. Book, General Manager
Barrett Paving Materials Division
Allied Chemical Corporation
40 Rector Street
New York, New York 10006
Dear Mr. Book
This letter is in reference to the Lease Agreement our Association has
with your firm, involving the property known as the “Rocker Farm” in
Hamilton County, Ohio.
In accordance with this lease, our Association has the option to
purchase this property for a stipulated amount, by giving notice of
intent by registered mail, thirty days prior to action, (Page 3,
With this letter, we wish to inform you that we will exercise our option
to purchase, and are making the necessary preparations to complete the
Very Truly yours,
Fairfield Sportsmen’s Assoc.
Harold G. Clevenger
Secretary – Treasurer
Cc: Mr. Paul Farst
Mr. Gus Condo
We had the closing, the signing of the papers, the handshakes, and the picture taking on the morning of December 30, 1969. Those present were O’Dell and Susie Brinegar, Harold and Reatha Clevenger, Jerry Jones (a worker), Neil Piatt (Chief Instructor) and our attorney, Mr. Gus Condo. There were several bank officials but the only ones I’ve recorded are Mr. Rentschler and his attorney, Mr. Ralph Henderson. Mr. Paul Farst was to represent the Allied Chemical Corporation, but was unable to attend that morning and sent his assistant. Sorry, again, I do not recall his name.
It was also with a lot of satisfaction (glee) to go to the 2nd National Bank on January 2, 1970 to close out the checking and savings accounts, and to answer their question as to why I was doing so.
The final payment on our loan was made on February 8, 1977…… just a tad over seven years from the date of the loan.
And that is the way I, Harold Clevenger,in 1986, remember the early years of the Fairfield Sportsmen’s Association.
We closed out 1998 with 2,849 members, our Treasury is quite solvent, and we hosted well over six hundred events on all ranges in the past year. Many of our competitive shooters do very well and rank high in local, state and national competition and a few of our shooters have won State and/or National Championships. Two of our shotgunners represented the U.S.A. in the Summer Olympics at Atlanta in 1996.
Contrary to what 2nd National Bank thought back in 1969, I think I can safely say we are far from being “irresponsible”, or “a poor risk” and our property is far from “worthless”.