Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, August 15, 1993, pg. 4
Albioní hasnít been known for good, quality, natural swimming places for some time now. The last official swimming place in Albion was at Dutchtown on S. Hannah St. which was closed in the 1950s due to pollution problems. Youth regularly swim in the Kalamazoo River in Victory Park unsupervised at their own risk even today. So for the most part other than the indoor chlorinated pools, Albionites have had to go to Duck Lake, Lime Lake, or Swains Lake to enjoy outdoor swimming.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s however, many Albionites enjoyed an outdoor swimming location only six miles away--the private park of Frank and Dorothy (Dietrich) Dudek on Albion Road. The Dudekís were my auntís parents, and I spent many hot summer afternoons at this quaint park along the banks of the Kalamazoo River. The Dudekís opened their private park in the early 1950s, and every year it was a favorite spot for church picnics, family reunions, and gatherings of many kinds. The Gleaner Insurance Company annually held a picnic at the site, as did other groups.
The park was developed on 9Ĺ acres and included a four-foot deep swimming area in the river, a quaint water-wheel, 29 picnic tables, a softball diamond and field, old-fashioned outhouses, and barbecue grills. There were also some iron canisters placed at various locations where people could make donations to help maintain the park, which was a hobby for the Dudeks in their retirement years.
The Dudeks came to Albion in 1913 from Cleveland, Ohio, and Frank was employed at the old Hayes Wheel Company on N. Clark St., later the location of McGraw Edison Company. The Dudekís moved to Concord in 1930, and form 1934 until his retirement in 1958, Frank worked at Clark Equipment in Jackson.
It is estimated that over a 9-year period from 1953 to 1962, approximately 20,000 persons visited the park, and 66 church, fraternal, or family reunions had been held there. How many of our readers remember Dudekís Park and the warm shallow waters of the Kalamazoo River at this point? As the years progressed, increasing maintenance and insurance costs, as well as the advance in years of the owners, resulted in the decision to close the park in the early 1970s. Frank Dudek died in 1973, and his wife, Dorothy, passed away in 1979. Their land was subsequently sold and is a private residence today.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a 1962 photograph of Frank and Dorothy Dudek, standing on the south end of their swimming hole. In the distance is the small dam and water wheel. The water wheel was constructed the same year this photo was taken.
Frank and Dorothy Dudek
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