Tarrant County, TXGenWeb

The Ruth Lubin Camp

Contributed by Kenneth Klein
Staff Writer, NW Times-Record


After Lake Worth was built, it became known as a Mecca for entertainment and recreation. The Casino Park and Ballroom, as well as fishing camps and nightclubs drew people to the area like a magnet. But Lake Worth was also to be known as a place to help the needy and less fortunate of us. The Ruth Lubin Camp was one such example.

World War I had a direct impact in our area, as well as throughout the country. Many men were sent off to war, some never to return. That created a devastating blow to families. Women had few rights back then; It wasn't until 1919 that women had even won the right to vote! The husband was the bread winner in the family, while the wives took care of the family unit.

But as men answered the call of Uncle Sam, it created a vacuum. The women could not rely on the their husbands' meager military pay, and the consequences left many of the women scrambling to find work in a society that didn't readily employ women. Those with children were hit the hardest. These families were destitute!

This problem did not escape the attention of Fort Worth. At a Director's meeting for the Fort Worth Welfare Association in 1919, Secretary J.B. Rawlings suggested "It would be a wholesome thing if the Association had a recreation camp at Lake Worth for Fort Worths' under-privileged children". Director Harry F. Lubin offered the use of his Lake Worth cabin and grounds for that purpose. The other members were also very enthusiastic, and plans were immediately made for a fresh air camp - named in honor of the Director's recently deceased 10-year old daughter, Ruth Lubin.

The Board decided to open it's camp to any family that was destitute, and was expanded to include poor mothers and homeless girls. The children would be fed and cared for by nurses, and if needed, the mother taught how to prepare food, and was also given lessons in hygiene.

The camp had it's beginnings in the 4-room Lubin cabin. It's true location is not even known today.

The first group of 30 children came in the summer of 1919. It was very successful and by the third summer, there was an increased demand in living quarters and space. So in 1923, six acres were donated by G.T. Reynolds, an Indian Oaks philanthropist, and another 4 acres bordering on that were donated by Fort Worth. Former Fort Worth Mayor Bryce donated $450 for sidewalks, and the Lions Club donated a whopping $4,500, which covered the price of new dorms, outside lights and swimming pool. The grounds also had a playground with slides, swings and a baseball diamond. The Camp had 8 cabins, two of them for staff.

The Camp accommodated 75 children for a period of 2 weeks each. The entire summer season could see 546 children. Boys ranged in age from 3 to 12, girls from 3 to 14. The underprivileged children undertook a program of entertainment, swimming instruction, sports and good wholesome rest. All of the children arrived by bus, where they were weighed in and checked by Red Cross Nurses. A typical day in the life of a kid:

6:30 a.m. A flag drill starts the day, where they salute and sing the star-spangled banner.
6:45 a.m. Next come the toothbrush drill. The kids pass by a nurse who adds a pinch of salt to their water cup.
7:00 a.m. Time for breakfast. They learn proper table manners, and not to talk with their mouth full. And this is the way you hold a knife and fork....
7:45 Following the meal is cleanup time, making the bed and tidying up.
8:00 - 10:00 a.m. Playtime!
10:00 - 11:00 a.m. Rest
11:00 - 12:00 Story hour
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Lunch
1:00 - 5:30 p.m. This could be anything from nature studies, treasure hunts, swimming lessons or sports.
5:30 - 6:00 p.m. Cleanup and shower.
6:00 - 6:45 p.m. Dinner.
6:45 - 7:00 p.m. Cleanup
7:00 - 8:30 p.m. Roasting marshmallows over an open fire? Ghost stories?
8:30 p.m. Taps...........

The Lion's Club continued to take an active role in the Camp, including a farewell program which ended in an "ice cream banquet" and gifts which the kids could take home. Then the kids were weighed out (before or after the ice cream?) and then taken by bus home.

Although the camp was successful, funding was always tight. Camp attendance grew as funding shrank. As early as 1925, the camp operated in the red, when funding was cut off from the Ft. Worth Community Chest. But nothing can stop a good thing - good willed people put on a benefit fund raiser for the Ruth Lubin Camp at the Majestic Theater. Though funds were restored the next year, it was determined by the Board to limit the applicants to children only. The Depression hit the Camp hard, and the children went hungry. But with the help of the Riverside Civic League, Council of Jewish Women, Veterans League and Leonards Department Store, donated food for the children. By 1935, work relief sent 30 men to the Camp to landscape, paint, repair and build a fence, while the Tarrant County Relief Organization made overalls and sleeping garments for the children.

Sadly, there came a time when the walls of the cabins did not echo the sound of children. Cobwebs glistened in a mosaic pattern across the Camp. The end of the depression marked an end to the Camp. But it didn't mean that the children would suffer; they just would find help elsewhere. New organizations would gain momentum, including the YWCA and YMCA, Panther Boy's Club, Boy and Girl Scout Camps, and of course - Camp Carter, named in honor of Amon Carter. More permanent establishments, such as the Lena Pope and Edna Gladney homes would take care of the more needy cases.............................

If you follow Comanche Trail until it meets the Marina Drive near the Charbonneau Slough, you'll come across a playground and a baseball diamond; and as the wind blows, you can almost hear the faint laughter of children against it's gentle moaning...the only reminder of what good things happened long ago in Our Corner of the County.


This page was last modified 13 Feb 2003.

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