Paul B. Davies

Paul Davies was camp's first Camp Director at the West Point Camp and would eventually become Executive Secretary of the Youngstown YMCA in 1933. Today he is remembered for spending the winter of 1923 scouting the shore of Lake Erie with his wife looking for the perfect camp site. Those who remember him as Camp Director remember this ability to do one handed handstands on the edge of chair upstairs in the lodge.[1] Those who remember him as Executive Secretary remember him as an outspoken proponent of racial equality, a strong advocate for youth, and credit him with the foresight and planning needed to build of the Federal Branch and expand the campus of Youngstown College (now YSU).

He was born in Duncansville, PA in 1896. Later, he attended Youngstown South High School and was a star football player there. In 1909 he began attending the YMCA. He graduated from The Ohio State University and joined the Navy to serve in World War One. After the war ended in 1918, he returned to Youngstown.[2] Boy's Work Secretary E.N. Hale hired Paul as an Assistant Boy's Work Secretary in 1919 and Paul began working as Camp Director later that year. Camp Ot-Yo-Kwa had been renamed after John H. Fitch only the previous year. At this time, Camp Directors were always full time Y staff that held the job only in the summer, then returned to Y the rest of the year.

The West Point site was located 30 miles south of Youngstown and featured a good water supply, a good lodge, “the most beautiful country side,” and many less rattlesnakes! Campers slept on wood and canvas bunks and attended church on a steep densly wooded hill across from camp. During the week; activities included Nature, Canoeing, and Swimming. Transportation to camp was provided by the Youngstown & Southern Street Car to East Liverpool, then via horse and wagon from there. In 1922 Earl Hale was promoted to Religous Secretary, and Paul asuumed his role as Boy's Work Secretary. By 1923, demand was exceeding camp's eight tents. Paul and his wife Nervabelle spent that winter traveling by wagon and on foot from Conneaut, OH to Erie, Pa looking for potential camp sites.[3] They found the Holliday Farm and the family of recently deceased John Fitch purchased 93 acres for camp. The members of the YMCA Camp Committee in 1923 were: O.W. Irwin (Chairman), Eddie Westwood, Tommy Atwood, Herbert Hudnut, and Ernie Travis.

One draw back of the new site, was that is was no longer accessible by street car and personal vehicles were uncommon. When buses were not available, the Y depended on local men who did own cars to donate them for the day to shuttle kids to camp and bring others home. In 1924 men including James McCammon, Nat Wetstein, James Pardee, R.C. Inglis, J.C. Boyer, Beecher Hisby, Ben Evans, E.T. McCleary, Bert Daughtery, James Wland, and Seymour Guthman would donate their cars to shutle as many as 75 kids to camp.[4] As the camping season in 1925 came to a close, camp ran a two week long conditioning camp for local high school football teams. David M. Williams (Girard), Karl Soller (South), and Al Davies (Boardman) brought their teams to camp. Paul would continue to serve as Camp Director until he was promoted to General Secretary of the Central Branch in 1927 and passed the reigns of Camp Director to "Curly" Johnson for the 1928 season.

In 1933, Leonard T. Skeggs passed away unexpectedly and Paul Davies succeeded him as Executive Secretary.[5] In 1940 Paul personally called "Jack" McPhee and asked him to be camp director. During World War II, Davies ran a USO Club out of the Central Y for men on leave. The Y staff had over 100 cots available for military men needing a place to spend the night. When Technical Sgt Walter Sariff became worried he would be shipped oversees again before he could be married to Rosalia Zumpano, he asked Paul Davies if his Y office could be used to preform the ceremony. About 900 service men were at the YMCA for the weekend. The men presented the couple with a large wedding cake, then promptly ate it before the couple arrived. A second cake was quickly procured. Paul continued to serve until 1960. The family moved to Lisbon, and when Paul Davies retired in 1960 he was succeeded by "Swede" Hunneke.

He also served as Kiwanis President, Chairman of the WWII Rationing Board, and was a YSU Trustee. The rationing board was responsible for distributing goods such as tires, sugar, typewriters, automobiles, fuel oil, and gasoline that had limited supply due to the war effort. For example, in May 1942, Mahoning County was allocated only 73 new tires to distribute to the public. Paul oversaw the application and distribution process. He sold the farm in Lisbon in 1963 and retired to Florida. Paul Davies passed away on April 14, 1979.[2] His wife, Nervabelle Davies, a former secretary at the Youngstown Y, passed away August 3, 1990. Together they had at least two children: Mrs. LuJane Hill who moved to Alabama and Hal Davies.[6]

Contemporaries

Paul is in the iconic 1926 Gypsy Trip picture in front of the provincial building in Toronto. With him in the picture are James W. Rayen, Thomas Montgomery, Fred Beede, Charles Engle, Randall Leyshon, Fred Evereth, Herbert Gwyer, Bruce Maguire, Austin Huntley, Howard Johns, Pete Johnson, R.W. Rowland, Carl Morrow, and James M. Williams.

Camper Awards

Camper Awards in 1924 were a far cry from the politically correct, creative, and all inclusive ones we know today. Here are the Camper Awards for second period, 1924:[4]

Camp History

Paul's children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren have worked and attended Camp Fitch. Joe Amerson is the great grandson of Paul. Paul's son Hal Davies was active at Camp Fitch before running the YMCA in Louisville, KY in the 1940s and 1950s.

Horses 1942

King Stewart and Paul's son Hal Davies on a camp horse trail.

Camp Genealogy

First Generation

Frank DaviesBrother
Bill DaviesBrother
Al DaviesBrother
Second Generation
Hal DaviesSonCounselor
LuJane HillDaughterCounselor
Bill DaviesNephew?
Ray DaviesNephewBarn Director
Al Davies Jr.Nephew
Dick DaviesNephewSteward
Third Generation
Kathy PierceGranddaughterBarn Director
Sherry AmersonGranddaughterCounselor
Isabelle PopeGranddaughterCamper
Leeann McMullenGranddaughterCamper
Mimi Davies PekarekGranddaughterCamper
Fourth Generation
Joe AmersonGreat GrandsonBarn Director
Lisa AmersonGreat Granddaughter-in-LawVillage/CIT Director
Jennifer ParnellGreat GranddaughterCIT
Dylan AmersonGreat GrandsonCamper
Kevin BlankGreat GrandsonCamper
Dana BlankGreat GranddaughterCamper
Fifth Generation
Paige ParnellGreat Great Granddaughter5th generation camper
Jessica ParnellGreat Great Granddaughter5th generation camper

See Also

References

1. a Tear, Phil, 1964. Camp Fitch Golden Anniversary. Allied Printing, pp.1-35.
2. a, b Leonhart, Al, December 2009. Faithful Servant. Y News, Youngstown Ohio: Volume 42, Issue 12.
3. a Youngstown Vindicator, February 5, 1983. Area Youngsters Have Romped at Camp Fitch Since 1924. Vindicator Printing Company.
4. a, b Youngstown Vindicator, July 21, 1924. 75 More Boys Journey to Camp Fitch for 3rd Period. Vindicator Printing Company.
5. a Youngstown Vindicator, August 19, 1933. Paul Davies Becomes Chief of Youngstown Y Staff. Vindicator Printing Company.
6. a Youngstown Vindicator, August 7, 1990. Mrs. Nerva-Belle Davies, formerly of Youngstown. Vindicator Printing Company.
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