Fishing club made big splash in Sports Afield

Shawn Hardy news@echo-pilot.com
One picture in the July 1949 issue of Sports Afield shows boys in Greencastle's Big Splash Fishing Club piled in a car with founder Dr. Ross Murphy.

Seventy years ago this July, a fishing club in the small town of Greencastle made a big splash in a national magazine.

Donald Beaver, 86, of Shady Grove and his wife, Jane, 85, recently brought their 25-cent copy of the July 1949 issue of Sports Afield to the Echo Pilot office.

He was a member of the Big Splash Fishing Club formed in 1948 by Dr. Ross Murphy of Greencastle Church of the Brethren.

The magazine's two-page spread featured seven pictures, the headline "Big Splash" and the subhead "A wise preacher has found a sure-fire method to keep kids out of trouble — he takes 'em fishing."

The article by Albert Pione:

"When a new preacher at Greencastle, Pennsylvania, made several brisk trips between the van and the parsonage toting assorted fishing gear he insisted no one else should handle, some of the good ladies of the congregation lifted their brows just a bit. If the Rev. Dr. Ross Murphy, who had accepted a call to the community of 2,800 after 23 years of big city service, noticed, he gave no sign. Quickly, he settled into the routine of the small-town pastor. A kindly, intelligent, friendly man, he was liked by all.

"That was soon after the war ended. When his duties permitted, the 66-year-old clergyman made leisurely trips into the scenic countryside, observing, no doubt, the numerous well-stocked trout streams, speculating perhaps, on the approaching open season.

"One day he made an announcement from the pulpit. He would be glad to meet with all boys, 5 to 15, who wanted to learn to fish. The turnout was spectacular, and the Big Splash Fishing Club was formed. It has never wanted enthusiastic members since. Says wise, good Dr. Murphy: A boy who learns to be a good fisherman will be a good sportsman and therefore a good citizen."

Donald Beaver is a lifelong sportsman, who continues to hunt, but gave up fishing this year because he said a few fish aren't worth falling in the creek for. His wife, Jane, said she just quit hunting last year.

The club was frequently mentioned in the Echo Pilot at the time, including the April 22, 1948, edition, which detailed the group's first real fishing trip to to a stream near Waynesboro's Cold Spring Park.

The Echo Pilot article listed members Dick Ervin, Tommy Pensinger, Jimmy Oliver, Gordon Foust, Sammy Myers, Owen Henry, Gerald Snyder, John Fisher, Bobby Cooper, Donald Beaver and Harold Winger and said each returned with a catch. They were accompanied by Murphy, Paul Foust and Snively Myers.

Beaver recalls how they would all "pile in the car and go fishing" at places like Muddy Run near Greencastle, Cowans Gap and the Antietam Creek near Waynesboro. The photos in Sports Afield were taken across from where Strait Steel is now located.