Richard A. Almquist (1934-present) is the son of Arvin H. Almquist, the original superintendent of Green Lakes State Park. Richard lived with his mother and father on park property during his childhood, and worked summers as a maintenance employee in the park during the late 1940s. The following are excerpts from his 1997 article entitled "Personal Memories of Growing Up on Green Lakes Park," accompanied by photographs taken by Arvin Almquist during the park's formative years.
"Growing up as the son of the Superintendent of Green Lakes Park, with 900 acres, a golf course and a lake to consider as my own back yard, was a very special destiny that I'm only fully appreciating in my later years. To walk bare-footed over to the beach through a parking lot packed with cars; to become immune to hot tar on the soles of my feet by the end of July; those memories are spotty now because I didn’t realize what destiny had bestowed on me, and I took a lot of it for granted. My classmates and I had a Mutual Envy Society going: I lived where they wanted to go on weekends and they lived in Fayetteville where all the action was.
My mom, Ruth Cheeseman Almquist from Seneca Falls, and my dad, Arvin Henry Almquist, from Connecticut, were married in 1927. My dad’s job was to help survey and then supervise the development of Green Lakes State Park. At the beginning of the project, they lived at first in an old cabin near…the west boundary of the park. My folks had no electricity and had to haul water by hand up to that lonely camp.
When the Administration Building was completed, Mom and Dad moved into an apartment in the west end of it.
"They were living in that beautiful lakeside apartment in the summer of 1929 when the parking lot first filled with cars for the parks Opening Day…the summer before The Great Wall Street Crash."
"I’ve been told that my mom refused to have me until there was a proper house in which to raise me, and the first winter after they moved from the lakeside Administration Building to the new Superintendent’s House, I was born (1934)."
Until I started working (on the maintenance crew) in 1948, I seldom went into the bath house except to harass the lifeguards. I must have been a real little pain because I realized my father was their boss, and I guess I pushed the limits of endurance too far a couple of times. I remember one terrifying incident back when I was probably a snotty 6- or 7-year-old, where I was grabbed and became the unwilling centerpiece in a game of blanket toss.
Winter sports at the golf course started before World War II. I remember watching Dad flood an area…behind the golf house for a skating rink. Skiing was kind of informal back then, but we may have had a tow rope on the front nine running from the bottom of the golf house hill up toward the pro shop.
During the war it was very hard to find suitable guys for lifeguards. Dad got the permission to try some girls that were certified by the Red Cross and I soon learned about equality. Those girls could pull a swimmer in trouble out of the lake just like the big, burly guys we used to hire.
These are some of my memories of my years at Green Lakes Park, mementos that I feel should be left for those who now and in the years ahead will enjoy the wilderness treasure that I was so privileged to call home for my first years of life.”