Source: NMHS Newsletter, November 1994

Gold Fish

by L. Russell Long

The l930's are most remembered as the days of the depression, but another phenomenon occurred then also. This was a fad among people of having gold fish ponds in their yards. These ponds became very popular in North Manchester early in the thirties and the fad lasted two or three decades. To my knowledge that last active pond belonged to Dewayne Garrison on West Fourth Street. It was eliminated in the late sixties.

The ponds came in all sizes, shapes and descriptions. Some even included islands. Most were complete with lily pads and lake moss, and in addition to fish, included tadpoles and polliwogs. Charles "Dutch" Ruppel, who live on West Second Street, had what was perhaps the most elaborate. He had a rock garden that stretched along the back side of his home and and continued for several feet along his lot line. A waterfall tumbled down rocks at about the center, forming a curved stream six to eight inches wide. This stream emptied into a large pond that reached halfway across his yard.

Next door, his sister, Rose Long, had a coffee-cup shaped pool. Where the handle would be a projection occurred, forming a miniature bench complete with a high and low diving board. On the opposite side a zoo complete with animals and ceramic people circled a third of the way around the pond edge.

Other ponds were scattered throughout the town. Two I remember were owned by Bill Hatfield at the corner of main and Sycamore and Otto Parmerlee on South Market. Both were fairly large for private pools. The Parmerlee pool was kept fresh because it had the unique benefit of a flowing well as a source of fresh water.

Since the ponds were fairly shallow, wintering the fish required large indoor aquariums. DeWayne Garrison solved this problem by placing his fish in the pool housed in the Thomas Marshall school during the school year. This pool was lost when the gymnasium was added to the building since it was in the alcove that gave way for the new hallway.

Another pond of note formed the centerpiece of the formal garden at Oaklawn Cemetery. It was located in the sunken area of what was at that time, the northeast corner of the cemetery. The pool has long since been filled in, but the outline is still visible today.

Thus, another phenomenon has passed from the scene. Goldfish can, however, still be seen in park and zoo ponds. The closest I know are in the sunken garden in Huntington.