|
|
DailyTidings.com
  • Twin Plunges?

    July 4 event to honor the late Edie Willstatter and her years heading historic Ashland pool
  • For a dozen happy years, Edie Willstatter taught half the kids in Ashland how to swim — and, with her Twin Plunges pools, basically provided a community center and day care where parents could confidently drop youngsters off all day long for 75 cents.
    • email print
  • For a dozen happy years, Edie Willstatter taught half the kids in Ashland how to swim — and, with her Twin Plunges pools, basically provided a community center and day care where parents could confidently drop youngsters off all day long for 75 cents.
    This legendary period will be celebrated all afternoon on the Fourth of July with a memorial for Edie Willstatter, who died last year at 80. If you ever met her or swam at Twin Plunges, you're invited to the Historic Armory for the event, which will feature food and music of the times, a slide show and swapping and recording of old memories, to go in a book.
    In town for the event, Kurt, Karl and Steve, the sons of Al and Edie Willstatter, reminisced in front of the Ashland Food Cooperative, where the spring-fed Twin Plunges stood until it folded in 1977.
    "Mom ran the place and we were raised like free-range chickens, with 200 or 300 brothers and sisters," said Karl, with his brothers each adding more words to the sentence, "and the high school kids all took us under their wing and tossed us around."
    Clearly delighted to be together and on the storied ground of youth, the sons told how their mom, short of stature, would command instant attention as she bellowed across the pools, often directing repeat rule-breakers to the "trouble bench" to think things over.
    Happening by the gathering in front of the Co-op, childhood pal Ron Smith did hugs and fist-bumps as they summoned tales up from memory's well.
    "She'd yell at me a lot," mused Smith. "She only yelled at kids she liked." "And she liked you a lot!" chimed in the brothers, almost in unison.
    "She scared the hell out of you and she had total control of those pools. I grew up in the pools," said Smith. "Come summer, my mom would get us a season pass, drop us off and say 'see ya.' "
    Noting her dedication to taking care of wounded animals and at-risk young people, Caterina Moore, Edie's old friend and caretaker in the final years of life, said, "She was tenacious, funny, with an acerbic wit — a little person with a huge heart and huge personality."
    When a raccoon or dog was found hurt, Edie was the person you called, said the sons, adding that she did much volunteer work at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Wildlife Images — and was director of the Girl Scout Camp and Ashland Middle School's Resident Outdoor School.
    Al Willstatter, a Jew, escaped Hitler's Germany in 1938 at age 13, when his parents put him on a ship, alone, to America. Al, now 85, and Edie met at University of Minnesota and were together for 60 years. Al served on the Ashland city council.
    Reader Reaction
      • calendar