Chapter 70 – Frith Lake Social Club
One of the social pillars of Noxubee County and the City of Macon is the Frith Lake Club. It has a colorful and unique history of over seventy years, which this article is intended to explore. My interview in June of 2003 with my father-in-law, Thomas Shelton Boggess, Jr. (Mr. T. S.) is the source of most of this material. He has served as President of the club since 1975. He graduated to Heaven January 29, 2010.
There is uncertainty as to the origin of the name, Frith. There was a hotel operating in Macon circa the turn of the century (that is 1900, not 2000). One of the privileges offered by the hotel was to take hotel guests on day trips down to this lake to fish. It apparently became known as Frith Lake, and some conjecture is that a Mr. Frith may have been the hotel owner or manager.
Frith Lake is located about five miles south of Macon on U.S. Hwy 45. An unmarked gravel road going east from the highway winds around for about three miles over to the Frith Lake grounds. Anyone not familiar with where Frith
Lake is would have difficulty finding the way without help. The lake is unusually deep, with some claiming it is formed over a large sink hole. One time in the 1990’s the Forest Ranger had a captured alligator that Mr. Boggess gave permission locate into the lake. This helped reduce the somewhat bothersome snake population around the lake, but the alligator apparently took to the road sometime later, and most probably headed for the Noxubee River, which is adjacent to the lake.
The social birth of Frith Lake began in 1920 when four Noxubee
County gentlemen went together to purchase the land around the lake to create a social club. They were Mr. Thomas S. Boggess (Mr. Tom), Lloyd L. Shannon, Julian Eugene Boggess and an attorney, Mr. Len L. Martin. The two Boggess men were brothers, and Mr. Tom was the father of Mr. T. S.
A club was formed with an initial closed membership of 20 or 25 (memory eludes us). It was closed in the sense that a limit was set on the number of the members, and that any new members had to be voted upon by the membership for approval when member vacancies occurred or when, over the years, the membership limit was raised.
The initial fee for membership was fifty cents a month. The mantel piece of this endeavor was to be a dance club, a social phenomenon typical of those days in the roaring 1920’s. The initial unit of the club house was completed in October of 1923. It basically consisted of a housed dance floor room with peripheral screened in side rooms for food preparation and seating. It’s the main entrance room today where the fireplace is located. Of course, more additions have been added over the years to reach its size of today. Some memories claim the beginning and ending of construction was 1923 – 1924. There is a stone under the club house in the middle with its date inscribed. It is not a very convenient location to view it!
The socialization began with summertime use as a camp and dance occasion. The weekends were the height of the festivities. Usually a live orchestra was engaged to play. Often this was a local band. Early dances, before a club house was erected, took place on a leveled off area of ground with pine straw forming its base. In those days, the Noxubee River was good for swimming recreation, which many enjoyed.
The camp cook was a black man named Lidge (sp?) Williams. His name may have been a contraction from the Old Testament prophet’s name, Elijah. He delighted the people with mighty good chow.
The families would come out to Frith Lake and pitch campsites to live a few weeks in the summer. The women and children lived in their tents and the men lived in their tents. These were somewhat large community type tents. There was a chow hall tent where they all gathered to dine. The women and children would stay during the weekdays while the men folk returned to work, returning in the evenings and on the weekends.
This pattern of activity continued through the 1920’s, but the economic depression of the nation in the 1930’s reflected in a decline for this club. The financial capabilities of the club and the members drifted down so far that the property was auctioned off at the Noxubee County Courthouse for $37 back taxes. One of the original four founders, Mr. Julian Eugene Boggess, stepped forward to purchase the property for the back taxes and donated it back to the club. So, he saved the day for the club at that point.
The camping seemed to discontinue in the early 1930’s in favor of merely coming out to the club house for dance and other social occasions. About that time, it was started to be called Frith Lake Country Club.
Edwin Mason Murphy, Jr. and James Horton gave leadership to the club in the 1930’s and the 1940’s. Part of this time was when Edwin was Mayor of Macon. About 1960, the Pine View Country Club, largely under the leadership of Dr. Morris, was formed, and that resulted in some drainage of members from the Frith Lake Country Club. Later the “Country” was dropped. Since then, it has been known as Frith Lake Club.
Mr. T. S. (Thomas Shelton Boggess, Jr.) retired from his work at the Food Science Department of the University of Georgia and returned to the family farm on Magnolia Drive near Macon in 1973. It wasn’t long before the Club invited him to rejoin. He was elected President in 1975 and has served the longest single tenure of leadership for the Frith Lake Club.
Mr. George Winter, a band leader from Alabama, has been a centerpiece of the Christmas holiday dances for each year since about 1976 (neither he nor we can remember for sure). This has kept alive the lively element of Frith Lake Club being a dance club.
Today (circa 2006), the Club has a thriving membership of between 50 and 60. It meets together about eight months out of the year. Two major events are on their annual calendar. The Fourth of July bar-b-que picnic is one, and the annual Christmas season holiday dance on Friday or Saturday evening after Thanksgiving is the other. The shift to Saturday in recent years was to accommodate the deer hunters of the Club, who didn’t want to come in from their camps on Friday evening when they could get one more day of hunting in by waiting till Saturday!
My family and I have attended this Christmas dance for most years since the late 1970’s. We cannot remember that we missed any. Our three children were teenagers from that time on and more-or-less grew up going to this annual dance. Quite a tradition for our family, and we have loved doing it!
We have not attended since Christmas 2009. In 2017, I sent an inquiry to Mary Ann Gray back in Macon, as she and her husband, Marion had been so very active in the Frith Lake Club. Here is her report received 2017-09-09:
“We do still have Frith Lake; in fact, Marion and I were on the August committee. We now only have 29 members and widows number 11. This is, of course, many less as I remember having 60 some years ago. We attend when we can and still enjoy the July 4th barbecue though it is not always held on the 4th. We took our youngest daughter and her 3 young children this year and had a good time. We just do not have many young people staying in Noxubee County and those who do are not "joiners." We no longer have the Christmas dance, but do have the monthly suppers. The club house has the monthly suppers. The club house is in pretty bad shape, since it is not used anymore. We basically only use the pavilion. Thank you for sharing the history that you have written; we always think of T. S. when we go out there and miss his being there. Everyone loved him very much, and he is mentioned at each meeting. He was a wonderful man and really kept Frith Lake going. The country club here closed around ten years ago; the building and grounds were sold to a black church. But I don't believe they use it for services, just other activities. The golf course is still here and is maintained by the city now. The old Chancellor Wholesale Grocery store on Jefferson Street is being torn down and the bricks are being sold. That is sad. Things are changing here.
“Let me know if you need any more information about Frith Lake. My parents
enjoyed Frith Lake Club for many years, but my father died in 1994 and my mother in 2007. They were Wayne Anderson and Beth (Adams) Anderson. My father owned 1/2 of the Ford automobile dealership here for many years with Paul Daniel.
“Marion and I are both retired now. Marion retired from his dental practice in 2013, and I retired from BankFirst in 2016 after 42 years, with most of my years there as EVP/CFO. I retired from the bank and the bank board the same year, 2016. Last year I taught one high school accounting class at Central Academy here from November until May 2017, and really enjoyed that. However, the school closed this year because of lack of students. I am enjoying retirement, but stay busy with my church, First United Methodist, the Rotary Club, Daughters of the American Revolution, Woman's Study Club, treasurer Revolution, Woman's Study Club, treasurer for Harold Gibson Brown Memorial Library. It seems I am always working on some organization's books, but the pay is modest. I keep the church's books for free as well, as several other non-profit groups. I enjoy my grandchildren, who all live near Jackson, MS, cooking, reading, crocheting and traveling so I am NOT bored. I cannot understand these people who say they get bored when they retire.”
We are grateful to you, Mary Gray, for this update on the Frith Lake Club’s life. Thank you.