Memories of Rudy’s Dam And Lititz boxer Allen Putt

By on February 1, 2012

By: CORY VAN BROOKHOVEN Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

Since the winter months are upon us, I would like to take the space in this month’s column to talk about the fond memories many local residents have of Rudy’s Dam.

At one time, this area was alive with activity as anglers, ice skaters and couples all shared in the beauty of that area. Historically speaking, the property dates back to circa 1847 when John and Daniel Rudy deeded the land to Charles Rudy. This is how the dam got its name. At one time, a large grist mill was also on site, which was also owned and operated by a member of the Rudy family.

In 1894, Dr. Peter Roebuck of Lititz, purchased the land from the Rudy family. While Roebuck owned it, the pond was utilized as an ice pond and large chunks of ice were cut from the frozen waters to be used to preserve food in many local families ice boxes. Back then, there was no modern refrigeration, and thus these blocks if ice came in very handy.

The ice was packed in sawdust, as a means to preserve it, in a building alongside the pond. In 1906, Roebuck sold the property to Albert Gochenaur; however, he only had it one year before selling it to David Bricker in 1907. David Bricker continued the ice plant and is also credited with planting white pine trees on the property. Then in 1945, the property was sold again to a Dr. Harold B. Minnich who was a retired Lititz dentist. Minnich and his wife, who both enjoyed winter sports, had the idea of creating an ice skating club “primarily for the entertainment of the public” and shortly thereafter, The Pine Valley Skating Club, named for the pine trees that existed on the property, was born.

In 1946, Minnich decided to rebuild the dam and spillway. Soon after, a small clubhouse that served as a place for residents to change skates and to keep warm was built. At one time in the not so distant past, the words “Pine Valley Skating Club” could still clearly be read on the side of this building. The club lasted for about 10-15 years, with the local Scouts using this area for a refreshment stand. Friendly games of ice hockey and “broom ball” were also played many times during the chilly winter months.

The pond was stocked with choice bass and blue gills which made it excellent for fishing in the summertime. Unfortunately on two different occasions, there was also tragedy. Many years ago while wading on the thin ice, a young boy slipped down into the ice and drowned in the icy waters. A short time after that, this same tragic incident happened to another young local resident. There is also the “legend” passed down from generation to generation of that of a green witch that haunts that area. It used to be said that if you drive by the dam at exactly midnight on Halloween, you can see the witch’s green eyes staring back at you.

When the ice was frozen, many residents also enjoyed bonfires and camp outs. Now doubt, the story of the green witch came up on more than one occasion as teens were huddled closely together to keep warm under the light of the moon.

As time went on, the ice skating area was used less and less, and the windows in the shed were vandalized more than once. The operation of the club was eventually turned over to the Boy Scouts who charged a small admission fee as a money making project. An idea was tabled at one point a few years ago to re-open the area for fishing and ice skating once again; however, insurance that had to be bought for the public to use the property proved to be too much of a burden.

Driving by this beautiful area in Warwick Township today, one can still see the pond and the refreshment stand still standing. Although it is now on private land, the memories that are held within this area live on.

A pugilist from Lititz

In addition to Lititz history, I am also fascinated with the old time boxing era, especially the scene around Lancaster County in the early part of the 20th century. Names like Leo Houck, Tim Droney and Rosey Stoy come immediately to mind when discussing this subject; however, Lititz also had a semi-professional boxer of its own in Allen F. Putt.

Putt was was born in nearby Robesonia in 1896, and eventually moved to Lititz where he started his illustrious boxing career. From 1913 to 1919 he fought all over the Central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and New Jersey circuits.

Putt, who competed at 118 pounds, boxed a total of 36 fights winning 80 percent of them. One of his more notable bouts took place at Frank Erne’s Physical Culture School on N. Queen St. in Lancaster on Nov. 20, 1916. Five matches were on the card that night with a general admission price of twenty-five cents. He was listed in the third bout taking on Dick Gottwalt of York. Their promo read “These are two of the fastest bantams around this section, and they make a hair-raising bout.”

Another local fight of his took place on Monday March 5, 1917 again in Lancaster. That evening he fought Jimmy Maloney of Philadelphia. The promo read “Putt is one of the cleanest boxers who have appeared at this club and always gives the fans a run for their money, but he will meet a worthy opponent in Jimmy Maloney.”

In November 1953, Putt was honored at the Lancaster City and County Old Time Boxer’s and Sportsmen Association which was held at the Brunswick Hotel in downtown Lancaster. After his boxing career ended, he worked for the Burnham Corporation until he retired in 1965. While living in Lititz, he was also known to many people as a poet. He lived a long life and passed away on Aug. 13, 1990 at the age of 94. He is buried, with his wife Elva, in the Machpelah Cemetery in Lititz. From Brunnerville

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Cory Van Brookhoven More MEMORIES, page A13