Cakes on the griddle for BHSA Grand Old Fourth tradition began with Dean and Jackie Scherer.
June 9, 2008 · Updated 7:48 PM
"The Fourth of July pancake breakfast - and perhaps the entire Grand Old Fourth celebration of which the breakfast is an integral part - owes its genesis to a few baseball uniforms.When longtime island middle school teacher Dean Scherer moved here in 1961 and became baseball coach, he quickly became aware of an inequity.In those days we had only the varsity team, Scherer recalls, but so many kids turned out that it didn't seem right to me to leave the younger kids out.So he approached then-athletic director Mike Nunamaker in 1963 and asked for funding to start a JV team.Nunamaker told Scherer that the school would provide ongoing support - if Scherer would raise the initial money necessary for uniforms, bats and balls.It was a very small island on those days, Scherer said. You made a lot of deals. So I came home and talked with my wife Jackie.Out of the conversation came the idea for a pancake breakfast on the Fourth of July. At that time there was virtually nothing else of an organized nature occurring on the island for the holiday.The pair approached Town and Country Market.Ed Loverich bent over backwards to help us get off the ground, Scherer said. He let us use the parking lot and mix the batter inside the store. We were able to get most of our product donated - Aunt Jemima syrup, Krusteaz pancake mix. So there was little expense and lots of labor.The lion's share of the latter came from the Scherers.Jackie made the batter and I made the pancakes, Scherer said. And we had help from some of the parents.That wasn't all. Scherer drove his pickup to Yakima and loaded it full of corn that he added to the salmon dinner that the Sportsman's Club put on to make a little extra money that way.The next year we were a little more organized, Jackie Scherer said. We set up the night before. And it grew every year after that. Most of our friends knew they had to volunteer.Over the years, lots of people have put in the time to make it work, Dean said.After the second year, they'd made enough money to purchase the equipment, and their success began attracting attention from other elements of the local athletic community.In the third year, Bill Philbrook joined the group to raise funds to start up a wrestling program.At about the same time the Boosters Club took over the primary organizing responsibility, though the Scherers were fixtures until seven or eight years ago.Then it was time for youth to take over, said Dean, who served for 23 years as boys basketball coach and had a lengthy stint as football defensive coordinator, in addition to teaching just about everything except English and shop. But during his tenure behind the grill, Scherer was not above an occasional subterfuge.One year, he beckoned to a woman waiting to be served.Come over here, he said. I have a special batter, with some beer in it.The fact was that his batter was no more special than what anyone else was serving. But his new client was so impressed at the thought that she was being served beer batter that she quickly summoned several dozen of her yacht club friends, helping to swell the coffers that year.And those coffers have expanded in the past few years to provide funds for activities well beyond the original uniforms.Bonnie Clark of the Boosters Club - who describes herself as kind of president, but we don't like titles because we all work just as hard - said some of the estimated $3,000 will go to academic and music clubs in addition to athletics.It's just a great community event, Clark said. "