Synepuxent Post 166 History
Because Ocean city was a small fishing village following World War I , The Population was too small to generate interest in an American Legion with very few veterans. The Growth did not take place until the Bay Bridge was completed in the 1954 period.
Following World War II , as veteran’s were leaving the military service, A group from Ocean City came together to establish a Legion in Ocean City. They began meeting in “SACCO’S” Restaurant in downtown Ocean City, and met there for about six months. In February 1946, the group was granted an American Legion Charter. The first Commander was George Cropper.
The American Legion then moved to a John Dale Showell building located on Talbot Street and Philadelphia Avenue.( This location is now a parking lot.) The arrangement made between John Dale Showell and club members was that he would receive one half the club’s profits rather than rent. The first year in The Showell building, he was paid $167.00 ; the second year he was paid $1,700.00. After the second year a lease arrangement was made. The American legion continued to lease the Showell building and hold meetings and events there for the next seven years from 1947 until 1953.
About 1950, a decision was made to purchase land and establish a permanent Post Home. Following a real estate survey, they decided to purchase land on 23rd street at a cost of $12,500.00. (Our present location). The Club members were very divided about the purchase of land on 23rd street, arguing the location was too far out of town. One member stated” WHY BUILD WAY OUT OF THE TOWN.” This decision almost caused a split among the members. During the 1953-54 year , the American Legion erected a building which included what is now the Dance hall section and the Main Hall Meeting room. During 1955-56, The present Bar and small kitchen was added to the structure. Jackson was the Commander that year.
In 1970-71, the Kitchen was enlarged and the pantry was added along with the Large south eastern storage area. Tony Villani was the post Commander.
During the 1992-93 year, the second floor area was added to include a large Conference room , lavatory, and office area. Jerry Daisey was the Post Commander that year.
OTHER LEGION HISTORICAL INFORMATION:
In 1959 , The American Legion was interested in purchasing property on the Board walk at 5th street to raise funds from a BINGO OPERATION. The Post was not able to secure a loan, but together with the Ocean City Fire department , and the Ocean City Lions Club, the three organizations were able to obtain a loan for the property and the building. During the 1960’s and beyond, the BINGO jointly operated by the three organizations was an excellent fund raiser. BINGO MONEY BUILT THE 23RD STREET AMERICAN LEGION. The 5th Street building is still owned by the three organizations who share the annual lease which generates roughly $ 40,000 per year to each group.
In 1970, BINGO was moved to the American Legion Post Home where it continues to be a fund raiser for the Post. The Bingo program is held once a week on Thursdays, door open at 4:30, games start at 6:00.
STORMS AND FLOODS:
The storm of 1962 flooded much of Ocean City, but the 23rd street property was Spared and not flooded. In 1970 During the Legion Parade , there was a downpour flooding the town. Frank Holloway and Gordan Wilkins were knee deep in water, but again the Legion received no flooding.
GAMBLING- SLOT MACHINES:
The American Legion had slot machines for a period of three years and were discontinued when the Worcester County Laws prohibited slots within the County. The big disappointment in 2009 was the that the Maryland Legislature did not approve Slot machines for Veterans Groups in Worcester County. All other Eastern Shore Veterans Groups have Slots as a fund raiser. Commander Sarge Garlitz worked tirelessly to have the Bill passed inthe Legislature and this finally happened in 2011. Slots has become our main fundraiser.
In 1960-61, a robbery took place and the Legion safe was broken into Resulting in the loss of $1,400.00. Robbery not solved.
CROWDS AND FAMOUS VISITORS:
At one time the American Legion had large crowds, five and six deep at the Bar , especially during conventions. Aging members has reduced those numbers. Many sports hero’s visited the Bar like Johnny Unitis and many Baltimore Colts players. Both Pres. Nixon and Pres. L.B. Johnson visited Ocean City , but not the Legion
The Legion had an opportunity to buy what is now the OCEAN MECCA parking lot for $32,000.00. They also had the opportunity to buy the land to our south –Minature Golf at a cost of $80,000.
Currently Post 166 has 876 members plus membership in the Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion which brings the American Legion Family to well over 1200. The American Legion holds general membership meetings on the fourth Monday of each month beginning at 6:00 PM with food and fellowship and at 7:00 PM for it's membership meeting. Eligible veterans are urged to make a difference by joining the American Legion to assist and support Active Duty military personnel and Veterans. The American Legion also helps fund many community organizations with donations as well as youth groups . Scholarships are also provided.
“FOR GOD AND COUNTRY” , American Legion members continue to serve their Community and Veterans .