(First Published 1972)
Writing the history of the Huron Pointe Yacht Club can lead to considerable controversy. After almost fourteen years of operation memories can become a little clouded and there are some who will say, “That ain’t the way it was!” However, a written record does exist and this history is based on that written record. You may disagree if you like but this is officially the way it was.
Four neighbors got together on December 24th of all days in 1958 and undoubtedly over a few beers decided to form a yacht club to be known as the Huron Pointe Yacht Club. These four were Sam Prvulov, Arlo Conklin, Ken Conroy, and George LaPlante. Of these four only Ken Conroy is still a member, Arlo Conklin and George LaPlante having passed away and Sam Prvulov having moved to greener pastures. Dues were set at $1.00 and, for the sake of simplicity Sam Prvulov was elected President, Treasurer and Secretary. Meetings were to be held following Huron Pointe Improvement Association meetings, which at that time were held in Rosso Hall.
Although many new members were taken in and meetings held regularly during 1959 little progress was actually made except to adopt an official burgee, the design of which has remained unchanged up to the present time.
The next meeting of consequence was held at the Mariners’ Club on North River Road on January 23rd, 1960. At this meeting Sam Prvulov was elected Commodore, Hermann Ball Vice-Commodore, and Thressa Schwertman Secretary/Treasurer. The treasury at that time had a cash balance of $6.75 with dues outstanding of $14.00. Membership had grown to a lusty 29.
Some time in August of 1960 (exact date not available) Sam Prvulov advised the Vice-Commodore that upon doctor’s orders he would have to resign as Commodore. In effect, handing over minutes, stationery, burgee and accumulated items, he said, “It’s your baby, YOU run it” The Vice-Commodore immediately called a special meeting which was held at his home for the purpose of reorganization. This meeting was held on September 9, 1960. Meaningful results were forthcoming. New officers were elected, Hermann Ball, Commodore; Paul Pinckett, Vice-Commodore; Arlo Conklin, Fleet Captain; Ernest Klein, Secretary/Treasurer. A committee, consisting of Hank Gavie, Cliff Corbit, and Paul Pincket was appointed to draw up a set of By-laws. Dues were set at $5.00 per year and the principle of one family, one vote was established. The new Treasurer took over a cash balance of $26.85.
By laws were finally adopted at a general meeting on December 16, 1960 held at Rosso Hall. These by-laws set up the form of government still in operation – current business run by a board of governors with one mandatory general membership meeting per year for the purpose of electing officers. Over the years since, many general membership meetings have been held in addition to the annual meeting with very satisfying results.
At this time it was decided that we should apply, for articles of incorporation, as we found to our dismay, that our name was only registered in the county as “Sam Prvulov doing business as Huron Pointe Yacht Club.” Sam obligingly released the name and we applied to the state for a charter. This was first denied because the name was too much like another already registered. Eventually the State agreed to grant us a charter if we would change the name to “Huron Pointe Yacht Club of Mount Clemens.” This is our official name.
During the following years the Club continued to function – new members joined – old ones dropped out – money was made – money was lost. We were strictly a social club. There were many summer activities involving boats, picnics, outings, rendezvous, but little out of the immediate neighborhood. Winters we had parties at various bars, halls, etc. Everything we did was successful, except our treasury continued to decline.
Cliff Corbit: must be given credit: for the idea that finally put us in the black for all time: In June of 1962 he suggested we hold a raffle of a rifle or gun. This proved to be so successful that we have been ahead ever since. This was a tremendous turning point in the life of the Club.
In spite of the fact that the early founders had agreed the club would not have a clubhouse on Huron Pointe, many members were on the lookout for a possible location. One very ambitious scheme died in infancy when the owners of the property involved got wind of the scheme and raised the price out of reason. However, in October of 1964 George LaPlante was approached with an offer of the Old Volcano Restaurant on South River Road next to the Blue Boat Bar. The property had many features that we were looking for: waterfront, parking area, building that could be adapted to club use. The only thing lacking was the money to consummate the purchase. After several meetings it was agreed that we would sell bonds to our members in units of $50.00 and the Commodore, Otto Merkle was authorized to proceed with the purchase. The bond sale was very successful and the necessary down payment was raised. On November 19th, 1964, the deal was closed and we were the owners of a clubhouse subject to a land contract. The original purchase price was $19,500.00 with $4,000.00 down and the balance under contract at $150.00 per month. Obviously dues had to be increased to meet this obligation. Dues were set at $60.00 per year with a 10% federal tax added. (When we paid the tax after the first year we discovered to our chagrin that it was 20% instead of 10%. Fortunately the tax was dropped after our first year in operation.)
The first meeting in the new clubhouse with Ott Merkle presiding was held in December 1964 after much elbow grease had been expended by the members. Tables and chairs were acquired through Stan Strnad from the Cadillac Motor Car Company and enthusiasm was so high that a New Years Eve Party was planned and has been held ever since. (We are still using the tables and some of the chairs.)
Improvements were continually made by hard working members, with donations adding to our equipment. This way we acquired a small electric stove, a small refrigerator, pots and pans, other kitchen equipment, a usable bar and other necessities of life. Our bar stock started with three cases of beer in the small refrigerator. However, it didn’t take long to build a back bar and start receiving weekly deliveries into our rejuvenated walk-in.
But we were still without docks on our dilapidated waterfront, and money was not available to do the necessary dredging and building. In April of 1965 a refinancing of our land contract made it possible to acquire $5,0(10.00, title to the property, and a brand new mortgage). Although it didn’t happen overnight we did get our docks, we had a deed to the property, and in the process we reduced our monthly payments to $130.00 per month.
Meanwhile the ladies, God bless ’em, were diligently at work making our new home habitable. On January 12, 1965, the first meeting of the Huron Pointe Mermates was held. In the beginning the wives of the officers of the Club automatically became the corresponding officers of the Mermates. Thus Marie LaPlante whose husband George was then Commodore, became the first president of the Mermates.
At this point credit should be given to two of our older members for the Clubhouse, Ev Heath and Andy Schuster worked together to install a new furnace, kitchen cabinets and innumerable items of carpentry and repair. Being retired they were able to put in full days of work while others were still trying to earn a living. Their efforts did much to get the Club in operation in a minimum of time.
During 1965 we applied for a liquor license but it was not until the following year that our application received any attention. After several meetings with inspectors who advised that our rest rooms were too small, our dance floor too small, our membership too small, the Liquor Control Commission decided to waive all shortages and grant us a license. This immediately attracted many new members bringing our membership up to about 85. Normal attrition, however, kept our membership hovering at the break-even point financially. Under our liquor license, profits from the bar cannot be used to pay the normal expenses of the Club. Thus dues had to “pay the rent” while bar profits bought the goodies. The bar put a new roof on the building, built the patio and the fireplace, bought the ice machine, and paid for many other improvements.
The first big step in clubhouse rejuvenation came about without anyone’s help. The dance floor was raised about three feet above the rest of the floor with a basement of sorts underneath. This housed our new heating plant plus a constant seepage of water. Somehow a fire started in this basement completely ruining the dance floor. After receiving an adequate settlement from the insurance company, we removed the furnace from the basement, dropped the dance floor into the hole, filled the balance with sand and installed a parquet floor. We then installed the furnace in the cupola, hung a ceiling below it and we were in business – years ahead of where we would have been without the fire!
Under the original by-laws membership was limited to property owners on Huron Pointe. It became obvious to all that the Club could not progress under this restriction as the bottom of the barrel had already been reached. Although the Club was first opened up to residents of South River Road from Lakeshore Drive to the Lake, it was not until 1969 that the by-laws were finally changed to admit members from outside the Pointe. The response was almost overwhelming. It became necessary to limit membership to 100 with a 10% override permitted. A waiting list was established and new members could not be accepted until the list was reduced to under a hundred.
That is our status in 1972. Much, progress has been made in the last few years – new rest rooms completed, building paneled inside, new bar built, kitchen remodeled and re-equipped, new ceiling installed, new lighting – in fact, we now have a clubhouse of which we all can be proud. But the real progress has come through Club activities, not the least of which is our introduction to predicted Logs. Now it would appear that we are functioning as a real yacht club.
To give credit to everyone who contributed time, money and materials would require listing just about everyone who ever belonged to the Club. It has been truly a community effort and the results are a credit to all.