Lake Condy once sit of Fourth of July celebrations

Special to the Opelika Observer

By Ann Cipperly

On the Fourth of July many Opelikans will celebrate at Lake Martin, but years ago going to the lake meant spending sultry summer days at Lake Condy. At one time, Lake Condy was the site of festive Fourth of July celebrations. Huge pits were dug to cook barbecue, while Brunswick stew simmered in big black pots, and lemonade was served from barrels. At night fireworks were displayed to close the celebration.

For many years, Lake Condy was the only recreational area for families in Opelika to enjoy swimming and picnics. Diaries from old Opelika families recall visits to the lake, telling of making the trip in wagons.

According to a diary belonging to the late John Fletcher, the lake was built by Zabud Fletcher in 1878. Zabud was born in 1842 north of Opelika in the early community of Mt. Jefferson.

Zabud enlisted in the Confederate Army of Tennessee in 1862 at Opelika. Since he was too small in stature to carry a rifle, he was delegated to driving a mule wagon. He was wounded in Perryville, Ky. in October of that year and became a prisoner of war. Zabud was taken to Camp Douglas, Ill., and later to Atlanta. When he was paroled in June 1865, he walked from Atlanta to his home in Mt. Jefferson.

Zabud, his wife Janie and six children moved to the area that would be known as Lake Condy where he had the lake built mostly by farm labor. In his diary, Zabud makes references to digging and hauling rocks to dam the water and building a bathhouse.

Two springs at the head of the lake were called Fletcher’s Lake at the time.

In 1912 the property was sold to M.L. Wilson, who resold the property in 1917 to Henry Lozier Condon, who owned the Condon Jewelry Store in downtown Opelika.  The family moved their belongings in a wagon.
The name of Fletcher’s Lake was changed to Lake Condy, dropping the “on” on Condon and adding a “y”.

In 1917, a pamphlet on Opelika stated, “The delightful recreation center is located two miles north of Opelika, only a short distance from the Dixie Highway. The grove has four acres of beautiful shade trees.

“The lake proper occupies about one and one-half acres. The entire body of water is supplied by 14 pure water springs. The outflow is 58,300 gallons every 24 hours.

“The grounds and lake are electric lighted. Lunches, ice cream and soft drinks are served.

“It is known as one of the most delightful bathing places in the South. It is operated under orderly management and kept in tune to meet with the approval of the most particular.”

Condon was Doris Canon’s grandfather. She grew up at the lake with her grandparents, mother and brother, who was later killed in WWII.
Doris’ great-grandfather, Joshua C. Condon, also lived at the lake. He was a jeweler and watchmaker like his son and installed the first clock in the courthouse steeple when it was added.

In 1926 Joshua wrote a letter to his niece telling about the beautiful lake surrounded with a beautiful grove of large oaks, hickory and pine trees, with large dressing rooms for the bathers.

Doris and her family lived in a two-story house built by her grandparents. In 1930 the house burned, and the family moved into a smaller house on the property.

The Fourth of July celebrations were Doris’ favorite time, with the barbecue cooking on the big pits, the black pots of stew and the fireworks at night.

During summer, many families would pack picnic lunches to enjoy a day’s outing, while their children splashed and swam in water so clear stones could be seen at the bottom. At one time, Lake Condy was the only recreational area for families in Opelika to enjoy swimming and picnics.

Many Opelika children spent summer days at Lake Condy, learning to swim or racing to the diving platform in the middle of the lake

During the winter months, water in the lake was drained and the bottom cleaned.

When Doris’ grandparents were ready to retire, Katherine and Earl Barks purchased the property in 1946. The Barks were living in Mobile at the time. Katherine, who was related to Doris, had grown up in Opelika.

The Barks moved to Lake Condy in 1947, bringing azaleas and camellias with them from Mobile. Katherine planted many of them around the lake. They stopped serving barbecue and slowly grew into a garden business.

Lake Condy closed to the public in the mid 1980s. The Barks later sold the property.  Memories of Lake Condy faded, as Lake Martin has grown in popularity.

Whether you are celebrating the Fourth of July this year at Lake Martin, the beach or your backyard, take time to remember the reason we are celebrating, as you enjoy a barbecue or picnic with your family. The following recipes offer ideas for a celebration, including three of Doris Canon’s recipes, courtesy of her daughter Barbara Sims of Opelika.

Ann Cipperly can be contacted at


Doris Canon’s Down South Barbecue
2 sliced onions, divided
4 – 5 lb. pork roast or fresh picnic ham
5 – 6 cloves
1 apple, halved
2 cups water
Put half of onions in bottom of crock-pot.  Then add pork and other ingredients with remaining onion and apple on top.  Cover and cook overnight or 8 – 12 hours on low.
16 oz. bottle barbecue sauce
1 large onion, chopped
Remove bone and fat from meat.  Pull meat apart and return to crock-pot.  Add chopped onion and barbecue sauce.  Cover and cook additional 1 – 3 hours on high (4 – 8 hours on low) stirring 2 – 3 times.  Serve on buns.

Doris Canon’s Potato Salad
5 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 – 4 boiled eggs, chopped
3 – 4 stalks celery, chopped
Chopped green pepper
Several large spoonfuls cubed sweet pickles
Salt to taste
Celery seeds
Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender; drain.  Cool thoroughly. Add chopped eggs, celery and pepper to cooled potatoes.  Add sweet pickles and mayonnaise (start with 1 large spoonful – add more as needed).  Mix well.  Salt to taste.  Sprinkle generously with celery seeds and mix well.

Doris Canon’s Bean Medley
1 can white shoe peg corn, drained
1 can small English peas, drained
1 can diagonal cut green beans, drained
1 can French cut green beans, drained
1 small jar pimento, chopped, drained
1 cup diced onions
1 cup bell pepper, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
Combine all vegetables.
Heat to boiling:
1 cup vinegar
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Cool to room temperature.  Pour over vegetables.  Mix well.  Refrigerate at least overnight.  Drain before serving.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Amanda Sanders Wunderlich
Spice Rub:
4 Tbsp. smoked paprika
3 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. black pepper
2 tsp. salt
Boston butt roast
2 cups chicken broth
Combine spices in a bowl and rub liberally over Boston Butt (bone in or boneless) in a slow cooker insert. Refrigerate overnight, if desired.
In the morning, pour 2 cups of chicken broth over the pork and cook for 8-10 hours on low. Shred meat and remove fat.

Grilled Chicken Breasts
Ruth Meadows
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. stone ground mustard (Inglehoffer)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Mix mustard and olive oil. Place chicken and marinade in a plastic bag.  Marinate overnight. Remove chicken from marinade and grill over medium heat until done. Can freeze.

Baked Beef Brisket
Annette Lovett
1 fresh beef brisket, any size
1 pkg. Lipton onion soup mix
1-2 cans beef broth
1 tsp. liquid smoke
Place large piece of heavy foil across large flat pan.  Place brisket on the foil.  Sprinkle dry onion soup mix over brisket.  Mix the beef broth with the liquid smoke and gently pour over the beef.  (I use 2 cans of the broth because I want to end up with lots of the beef “gravy.”)
Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Roast, fatty side up, 5 hours or until tender.

Harris Family’s Beef Kabobs
Allen Harris
This recipe has been passed down in the Harris family for many years.
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. A1 sauce
1 garlic clove, crushed
Boneless short ribs (about 1 1/2 lb.), cut into cubes
2 medium onions, quartered
2 red peppers, cut into squares
Fresh mushrooms
Combine first five ingredients.  Pour over short ribs. Place in a zip lock plastic bag and marinate for at least 4 hours.  Remove from marinade and place on skewers with vegetables.  Grill on medium heat on barbecue grill until meat is medium rare and vegetables are done.

Chicken Brunswick Stew
Brad Hunter
Freezes well
1 large onion, chopped finely
6 large chicken (bone in) breasts
2 (15 oz.) can white cream-style corn
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (12 oz.) bottle chili sauce
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can chicken broth
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup butter or margarine, cut up
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
4 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. pepper sauce (optional)
Place chicken in a slow cooker on high for 4 hours or until done.  Remove chicken from slow cooker, debone and shred.  Chop onion finely and lightly brown in 1 Tbsp. oil.  Mix all ingredients together and let simmer for approximately 1 hour.

Marinated Green Beans
A Smith T family favorite
3 cans Blue Lake Whole green beans
1 cup red wine vinegar
¾ cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. pepper
Drain and rinse beans. Mix remaining ingredients together. Bring to a boil. Pour hot marinade over beans; refrigerate overnight. Drain liquid from beans before serving.

Ice Cream Cake
Julia Thomas
26 Oreo cookies, divided
1/2 stick margarine
1 can Hershey’s chocolate syrup, divided
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
1 cup Spanish peanuts
12 oz. Cool Whip
Crush 24 Oreos in a plastic bag. Melt margarine; mix with crushed Oreos. Press in greased 9 by 13-inch pan. Cover with 1/2 can Hershey’s chocolate syrup.
Slice ice cream into 1½-inch slices. Arrange slices over crust. Sprinkle peanuts over top.
Cover with remaining syrup. Spread Cool Whip on syrup and sprinkle 2 crushed Oreos over top. Freeze. Serve in 2-inch squares.

Toffee Ice Cream Pie
2 Tbsp. instant coffee
1 Tbsp. boiling water
1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
1 pkg. heath brickle or 6 crumbed Heath bars, divided
9-inch graham cracker piecrust
1/2 cup whipped cream
Dissolve coffee in boiling water (can be done in microwave in glass cup); stir into softened ice cream along with 2/3 cup of the brickle. Pile into piecrust.
Whip cream until stiff. Spread on top of ice cream filling. Top with remaining brickle. Freeze until ready to serve. Take out of the freezer a few minutes before serving. Serves 8.

Greek Salad with Potato Salad
Pat Odom
Pat adapted his recipe from Pappas Restaurant on the docks of Tarpon Springs, Fla.
2 heads leaf lettuce or 1 leaf and 1 iceberg
Potatoes, any kind (figure about a 1/2 potato for each serving, depending on potato size)
1 bunch green onions (chop up tops for potato salad, use bulbs for Greek salad)
1 small onion, chopped
Shrimp, optional (fresh, canned or frozen)
Tomatoes, olives, feta or goat cheese, salad vegetables, whatever you want to use
Several hours ahead of serving, cook potatoes. I peel them first but leave them whole, or, if large, cut them in half. Bring potatoes to boil in salted water, and cook about 10 minutes, then turn off burner.
Let set about 10 minutes, and test to see if fork goes easily into center. If so, drain, and run under cold water to stop cooking. Store in refrigerator (dry) for later use. Potatoes need to be cold when mixing salad.
Greek Potato Salad:
Cut up cold, cooked potatoes into chunks (large). Mix in onions and enough mayonnaise to moisten (probably a couple of serving spoon sizes at least).  Salt to taste.
Greek Salad:
A couple of hours before serving, put potato salad into bottom of bowl. I usually line the bowl with leaf lettuce for presentation. On top of potato salad, add broken lettuce.  Top with olives, shrimp, green onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, cheese and/or anything else you like.
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable or salad oil
Oregano flakes or Italian seasoning
In separate bowl, put vinegar, oils and oregano flakes.  Mix together with whisk, and quickly pour over finished salad. This sinks to the bottom and into potato salad.   If you are making a huge salad, you may need to make a little more dressing. Probably just a half recipe more would do.

Buttermilk Ice Cream
Chef Collin Donnelly of the former Yellowhammer restaurant in Waverly
5 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 vanilla bean, split
Bring cream and vanilla bean to simmer in saucepan.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar together. Gradually whisk hot cream into egg yolk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and stir over medium heat until custard thickens slightly (do not boil). Strain into bowl and stir in the cold buttermilk.
Refrigerate custard until cold and then spin in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Pie
4 Tbsp. peanut butter
4 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 pint vanilla ice cream
9-inch graham cracker piecrust
Crushed peanuts
Melt peanut butter and brown sugar in saucepan. Add ice cream and stir until mixture is well blended. Pour into piecrust and top with crushed peanuts. Freeze until ready to serve.

Marvelous Ice Cream Pie
1 pkg. Oreo cookies, crushed
1 stick butter, melted
½ gallon praline and cream or butter pecan ice cream
Chocolate Sauce
Whipping topping
In a greased 9 by 13-inch pan, spread crushed Oreos and pour melted butter over top. Slice ice cream and place on top of cookie crust.
Pour cooled Chocolate Sauce on top and cover with whipped topping; freeze.
Chocolate Sauce
1 Tbsp. melted butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
½ cup sugar
1 ½ squares semi-sweet chocolate
Combine ingredients in saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until thick.

Ice Cream Sundae Pie
2 pints softened vanilla ice cream, divided
9-inch graham cracker piecrust
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. caramel sauce, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. fudge sauce, divided
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
Scoop 1 pint ice cream into thin, flat scoops and spread on bottom of crust.
Spread 1/2 cup caramel sauce over ice cream. Freeze pie until solid. Remove pie from freezer and top with 1/2 pint ice cream; spread evenly over caramel. Spread 1/2 cup fudge sauce over ice cream.
Freeze pie until solid. Remove pie and top with remaining 1/2 pint ice cream.
Drizzle remaining 2 Tbsp. each caramel and fudge sauce over pie. Freeze.
Whip cream and confectioners’ sugar until firm peaks form. Spread over pie. Freeze until ready to serve. Serve with additional whipped cream, if desired.


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