Mad River Union
BLUE LAKE – Some towns are blessed with service organizations such as the Elks, the Lions, the Moose, or even the Odd Fellows.
Blue Lake is lucky to have what its members call “a men’s service and drinking organization,” The Mad River Old Crows.
You may have seen them marching in the Annie and Mary Day Parade recently. They wore spiffy turquoise and black bowling shirts and marched under the wings of an enormous black crow puppet, as they tossed candy to the crowd.
Crows, along with ravens and jays, are members of the Corvid family. They are highly intelligent, have the ability to learn human speech and are noted for using tools.
The Old Crows sure do use tools. Over the years they’ve built the horse-shoe courts near the gymkhana grounds, painted the fence, the porch, and the party room at Prasch Hall, refurbished and reshelled the bocce ball court at Perigot Park, prepped and painted the Mad River Grange building (a big job!), built the Crow Corner bench area and walkway, then landscaped it, and quite importantly, installed and still maintain dog-doo bag and collection stations around the town.
One member heroically empties the waste and restocks the bags.
“The Chamber of Commerce paid for the stations and buys the bags,” Old Crow Marvin Samuels said, “but the Crows put it up. Having those around town seems to be making people more cognizant of picking it up. I tell people, ‘There’s no poop fairy.’”
Need volunteers for set up and clean up at events? Call the Old Crows.
Their latest project is to build a wood-fired pizza oven in the back yard behind the Grange. Since the closing of Stardough’s this could fill a serious gap in the town’s culinary offerings. They are holding an event on Wednesday, Aug. 1 at the Mad River Taproom from 5 to 8:30 p.m. to raise money for it.There will be drawings for local art and merchandise, a 50/50 raffle, and free music by LaPatinas from 6 to 8 p.m. LaPatinas front man, Jeff DeMark, is also an Old Crow. For every beer sold, the Mad River Brewery will donate one dollar to the cause.
The Crows have fun too. The last Monday of the month is bowling night and they have gone on some great day hikes.
“In the wintertime we do darts at Bart’s (house),” Vaughn Hutchins said. “In the summertime we do horseshoes.”
Hutchins moved to Blue Lake “three years ago and it was like having an instant social network.”
The Old Crows was formed in February 2013. Their underlying rule is: “We function on a no guilt/no obligation basis.” They call their regular meetings “murders” after the collective noun for a group of crows. They are scrupulous about alternating murders between the two watering holes in town.
Members are active civically too. Three members are on the Planning Commission, one is the Parks & Recreation director, and another is president of the Blue Lake Chamber.
They have so many good ideas that they’ve had to make a rule.
“We had to pass a rule that if you wanted to do a project, you had to lead it,” Hutchins said.
It can’t just be “someone said it would be good if...” Bob Chapman, another member, explained.
After all, their flyer says, “We strive to enhance the quality of life for all creatures (including humans).” That explains their ongoing support for wetlands preservation and clean-ups of the Mad River in conjunction with the Mad River Alliance. They’ve even dreamt of bringing the lake back to Blue Lake but easements pose a problem. Who knows, the waters may rise again. The group is indomitable.
Still, as Samuels says, it’s all about “connection”
Chapman echoes that thought, saying, “I think the best thing we do is when we meet at someone’s house. It’s nice to go over to somebody’s house and let your hair down.”
So come out, dance and let your hair down on Aug 1. Who doesn’t want to support pizza?
The Mad River Taproom is located at 101 Taylor Way, Blue Lake.