Sunday, June 5, 2016

V. 1. #24. Local Walking Clubs Early in the Century

V. 1. #24. Local Walking Clubs Early in the Century

A number of active local walking organizations existed early in the 20th century. The prominent clubs were the:
 Cincinnati Gym Walking Club, which started in 1908
 Cincinnati branch of the American Walkers’ Association (AWA) (founded 1916)
 Walkers’ Club of Cincinnati, (founded 1924)
 Young Business Men’s Club, (also founded in 1924)

Each of these groups hosted regular walks during the weekends. The first article is an invitation to the general public. The next clipping demonstrates other activities, which they engaged in while hiking.

Walking was so popular that there was a regular column in the newspaper, entitled “With the Hikers”, that described their jaunts. The weekly distances varied from 6 to 28 miles.

The majority of the walks were co-ed. Mention was made of relationships that developed from the many hours spent together.

Sebastian Linehan was very prominent in the walking community, both as a competitor and as an organizer. He helped found two clubs – the American Walkers’ Association Cincinnati branch (AWA), which is still a viable organization and the oldest walking club in the country and, and the Walkers’ Club of Cincinnati.

The Walkers’ Club of Cincinnati was exclusively male and oriented more towards developing race walkers.

Linehan’s racing prowess included winning the annual 6-mile Thanksgiving Day walking race in in 54:01:2/5 and being invited to try out for the 1920 Olympic team.

In April of 1920, at a walkers’ carnival held at the Cincinnati Gymnasium Athletic Club grounds in the East End, there was a 1-mile walk for women. This was recorded as the first ever race specifically for women in the Cincinnati vicinity.

The AWA employed their own professional coach. His name was Pat Britton. One article mentions that he had the peds use the eastern style of squad hiking, which meant building the pace around the poorest walker in the group.

Irwin Carroll was another notable individual in the walking community.  He was a prominent competitor – the only individual to win the Thanksgiving Day Race both as a walker and as a runner – and hiker.  His name appears often among the weekly hiking participants.  Irwin served for many years as the president of the AWA.

Here are comments that Tom Forte had to say about Irwin (Erv) Carroll.  "Irwin Carroll lived on Robinson Road in Pleasant Ridge about a block from where I grew up with my grandparents. Mr. Carroll started the cross country and track programs at Nativity when I was about in 6th grade (early 1960s). I always finished last and to this day have my collection of rabbits feet, lucky penny horseshoe keychains, and other "trophies" he gave me for finishing. I would see him at high school, AAU, and Junior Olympic meets. What a swell guy he was."

There was mention of the 500th consecutive weekend walk by the American Walkers Association. Greater Cincinnati was known as having one of the most interesting and largest walking clubs in the US.  446 different people, many who were women, took part in their various activities.

Regular articles, describing the weather and the route, listing the participants, and mentioning other activities that they may have indulged in, appeared in the newspapers.  These other undertakings included dinners, explorations, ball games and dancing.  The accounts employed flowering language such as:
“the peds enjoying the spring-like zephyrs as they tripped merrily over the hills”
“in charge of the hipweavers”
“a real man’s sized hike”

There was even a mention about the new city of Mariemont that was in the process of being built.

Yes, it appears that walking with walking groups was a very popular activity during the 1920s.

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