David T. Portman: Part III

Part III. Story was originally written by David Portman in 1979 and submitted in 2008 by David’s daughter-in-law, Carol Portman.

There were activities such as drama groups, social clubs, ballroom dancing, schools to teach reading, writing, English and athletics, but most interesting of all to me was a group known as the Alliance Military Cadets which was very popular. The number of youths who participated was so great that three companies had to be formed along with a rifle and bugle corps. We were taught how to handle a rifle, drill and keep in good physical condition. We were drilled by an Army Sergeant who came from Jefferson Barracks and each company had a staff of officers: major, captain, lieutenant, sergeant, etc. Walter Freund became a sponsor and led us in many activities. We went camping in Lakewood on the Gravois, Ladue, which was then a prairie, but mostly to Creve Coeur where we pitched our tents. We carried with us pots, pans and cooks who prepared food for the hundred or more who went camping with us on the weekends or on holidays. All the fellows carried their own camping equipment, traveling by street car and on the open end Creve Coeur trolley where we had so much fun. I believe that from these adventures came the development of the summer camps. The Y and JCCA began offering camping experiences, first Camp Hawthorne on the Lake of the Ozarks, and later Camp Sabra, which serves thousands of our present youngsters and oldsters.

During the westward travel of the Jewish population, the Jewish Alliance moved to 3645 Delmar Square, and a few years later became the YMHA, YWHA, where the activities continued. The Y joined with a group known as Jewish Community Center which was then located in the 3600 block of Page which had outgrown its quarters.

The two organizations merged and purchased property at Union and Enright where extraordinary community activities were offered: a swimming pool, a health club, and multiphased social activities. Some years later, this edifice also became too small, and ground was bought by forward-looking leaders who brought about the Jewish Community Center Association on Schuetz Road which provides excellent facilities for the entire Jewish community.

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