CRESTON — They came for a swim, they came for the food and games, they came to see their family legacy.
Creston residents celebrated the 100th birthday of their pool last Sunday, the oldest pool in Nebraska.
On hand was a special guest, the grandson of George Harry Morris, the man who got the pool party started a century ago.
George Morris, grandson of the late George Harry Morris, traveled to Creston from San Francisco, via Amtrak, with his family to help celebrate.
“My grandfather had written a book about his life for his family, and he described the building of this pool and his life out here,” George said.
“He moved to Nebraska when he was 10 years old. He spent his childhood here, and after a stint in the Army — he was in the Spanish-American War — he came back and went to medical school in Omaha, and then came back to Creston and practiced medicine.”
Morris’ five children were born in Creston, including Bob, who is George’s father.
George said, “He (his grandfather) had three sisters living in California, and he would go to visit, and in 1917, 1918, there were a lot of public pools there, and he came back here and thought it would be a great idea if Creston had a public pool.”
So, Morris started raising money with a few other residents, and raised enough for cement, sand and gravel. They traded time with local farmers.
The farmers excavated the site for the pool, and, in return, the other men worked the farms.
He said his grandfather’s version of the story is that land was leased for 25 years with an option to buy, but there is a version of the story that indicates the one acre was bought by George’s grandmother.
There wasn’t enough money to purchase metal reinforcement, so, according to the family history book, “under the cover of darkness in the surrounding area they secured metal reinforcement material at a very reasonable price,” he said with a laugh.
George made the trek to Creston with his wife, Sandra; sons, Robert and Michael; daughter-in-law Katharine; and granddaughter, Cleo.
George said it was great to be back and celebrate what his grandfather started.
“I think it’s terrific. I’m so glad we came. This is our roots,” he said.
The pool, which was the star of Sunday’s party, was popular. At one point Sunday afternoon, 235 had signed in to swim. That’s not bad for a town of about 210 people.
Proceeds from Sunday’s event will go toward the park and pool for any future needs.