Walter O. Baggett
Cape Cod, Margarita & Wengen Curling Clubs
Dateline: Monday, March 7, 2016 The morning after 38th PCC Stone Bonspiel
The story goes that the Plainfield Curling Club was founded in 1963 after three Canadians put an ad in a newspaper. From that core they literally built by the sweat of their own hands this now thriving Club. It now stands on the same site at the end of McKinley Street next to railroad tracks in South Plainfield, NJ, surrounded by large industrial and office buildings, strip malls and gas stations next to the off ramp of an interstate highway. A far cry from the open fields of 53 years ago!
While the building retains its original footprint, a lot has changed. The compressor has been replaced. The ice shed has a proper ceiling, heaters and climate control. The bar and kitchen has been remodeled. The warm room has a spectacular chair railing and white wainscoting that features curling club pins every six inches.
And yet, with all this loving care, the ice has been a challenge. The original floor was raised off the ground. As the structure aged parts of the floor sagged. At one point one end of the two sheets had ¼ inch of ice, while the other had three inches. While fixes were tried, the problems continued until the beginning of the 2015-2016 season. Fortunately, the club’s board had a strong treasury and even stronger resolve. In mid-season, they stopped the curling, tore out the old floor, put in crushed stone and insulation, laid down prefabricated piping and poured in concrete. The new piping was compatible with the existing compressor set-up. All this was done expeditiously despite the usual issues with suppliers and building inspectors.
The results of this renovation are spectacular to say the least. As one who has curled in the 36 PCC Stones, not to mention Cortina, Italy, Brisbane, Australia, and 31 Monctonian New Brunswick bonspiels, it is as good or better than you will find elsewhere. It is not the fastest, but it is true and must be read with care. Too much weight and a takeout will fall. Too little weight and the curl will break much sooner than you may want. With proper brushing a stone can be kept straight. Early brushing may keep it from breaking at all. Late brushing, after a stone has begun to curl, allows you to bury a rock well behind a guard.
All this is not just the new floor. The rocks were always the best. Deionized water, proper environmental control, a well run compressor and related controls all make it work. Most of all this is a to tribute to the dedicated club members and especially the board and ice committee for showing what hard work and perseverance can do for a great curling experience.
P.S. The hospitality, food and drink prices are great too! Love those steaks and $10 bottles of California Cabernet Sauvignon!!