YMCA looking for memorabilia, plaque

Oetjen is looking for a bronze plaque that was once located at the pool.

The Heart of the Valley YMCA is gearing up to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Hogan Family YMCA in Madison.

Coinciding with this anniversary are plans to revisit the history of the Y in Madison. Mary Anne Swanstrom, Director of Communications for the YMCA, is looking for photographs and memorabilia from the first YMCA that opened in Madison in the late 60s.

“We want to recreate that continuity from when the Y first came into Madison to the present day,” Swanstrom said. “One thing we really want to celebrate is the fruition of the Y in this community.”

The YMCA opened a pool in Madison sometime around 1967. The now defunct pool was located on Eastview Drive in the Victoria subdivision. The pool was operated by the city for a time and closed in 2007.

Perhaps one of the most sought-after treasures from that time is a bronze plaque which hung outside the pool house. The plaque listed the names of more than 100 residents who donated money to help build the pool on property donated by the Clift family.

Bebe Oetjen was one of those people.

“It means a lot to the city of Madison and its growth,” Oetjen said. “It’s genealogical. It’s 100 people that lived in this city at the time, people you were in church with, went to school with, and were on teams with.”

She and her husband moved to Madison in 1963 from Georgia. She said she donated because they both taught swimming and wanted a place for their children to swim.

Likewise, the Clifts represent one of those threads of continuity as donors to Madison’s new YMCA more than 40 years after their original gift.

Swanstrom has plans to display historic photos and artifacts related to the YMCA in Madison in the Hogan Y for the anniversary celebration. The celebration will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 12 at the Hogan Y with tours and children’s activities. The public is invited.

If you or anyone you know has pictures or keepsakes from the first YMCA, please call the corporate office at (256) 428-9622 or email maryanne.swanstrom@ymcahuntsville.org.

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