By RAY THOMAS
In 2011, I was visiting my home town with my then 17 year old daughter, Meredith. We were rowing an Alden Double Rowing Shell on Quincy Bay when someone told us that we should see the trophies and rowing history at South Side Boat Club.
We then went down to the SSBC and members there introduced us to Allie Lymenstull, who was a second generation member and former rower. He was very proud of the club’s accomplishments and told us stories about the club and its historic achievements including a 2nd place finish in the World Rowing Championships. I felt like it was a story that should be told so I looked up the club history in some of Carl Landrum’s articles in the Quincy Herald-Whig. Then I went to the Quincy Public Library and the reference librarian helped me research other articles about rowing in Quincy.
I decided to write a short piece about Quincy’s rowing history and the Adams County Historical Society published it in the Herald-Whig. It was through this story that I met local rowing historian and website guru Rob Heiden and the two of us teamed up to gather what we could about the club’s history before it was lost. Rob was at the time designing a website for SSBC, and located many photographs and historical items that had been completely lost in time. It became an exciting historic treasure hunt for us.
This led to several meetings with Allie to find out more about the river, rowing, and racing. Somewhere in this quest, we met local paddler Mark Frankenbach who told us that he had always wanted to create a kayak race at Quincy and that he knew others who would help as he was part of a small but growing area paddling community.
Meamwhile, Allie told Rob and I, he wished that he could see SSBC involved in another river race before he passed on. His stories about the old days inspired us to create the first human powered regatta in Quincy in 62 years. Allie agreed to fire the starting pistol for the Quincy 5 Miler, but fate intervened and he passed away before our first race in September 15, 2012. That first year we teamed up with Frankenbach, and Kevin Dempsey.
Kevin Dempsey was founder of Kayak Quincy, and was our first safety director. Through Kevin, we met Quincy Tourism and Convention Board director Holly Cain. Holly has helped us greatly with outreach and publicity each year since 2012. Kevin moved to the east coast in 2013, and no longer is part of our team. He is delivering boats for a boat manufacturer now.
In 2013 we added the Bear Creek Grunt, a 15 mile race that is run the day after the Quincy 5 Miler.
This year, 2015, we have created a traveling trophy, The Allie Lymenstull Cup to go on display in the historic club house that would be awarded for the fastest single boat in the Quincy 5 Miler, a race course that we set up to go along part of the course where Quincy’s first organized rowing race was run in 1872.
Each year we have had a dedicated group of SSBC members to help us run the race. And our organizational team since 2013 includes myself, Rob Heiden, Mark Frankenbach, and local kayak stalwarts John McCoy, Larry Waters and Rusty Self. Sue Powers joined us in 2014, as photographer, and has expanded her role in 2015.