DALLAS — For 53 years, Jim Snyder voluntarily rolled up his sleeves to help pull together the Back Mountain Memorial Library Auction and this year was no exception.
The 70th annual Back Mountain Library Auction, which concludes Sunday, is built on community support. Snyder, a volunteer since 1963, dedicates time every year to help set up tents, bleachers and help out anywhere he can.
“The library is a community organization that I love working with,” said the 67-year-old Shavertown resident.
Snyder was 13 when he first volunteered as a member of the Dallas Key Club. At the time the Back Mountain Memorial Library Auction was held at former Dallas Post publisher Howard Risley’s barn off Lehman Avenue.
“I started by building refreshment stands when the auction was at Risley’s barn,” he said.
In his early volunteering days, Snyder invested nearly 75 hours to help prepare the grounds, set up tents and structures as well as volunteer during the event in various capacities such as a feeder or spotter during the auction.
But now Snyder juggles working full-time at Boscov’s and serving as a member of the Dallas Kiwanis.
“This year I was not able to take off the week of the library auction,” Snyder said. “I could only volunteer about 30 hours. I wish I could have done more.”
But his memories are not all of the hard work but of comedic situations and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
In his early involvement with the library auction, Snyder recalled two local men who would compete to buy the first item that crossed auction block every year.
“I think their names were Herman Thomas and Tom Hoffman,” he said.
The auctioneer would anticipate the good-humored bidding war and pull out items such as a salt shaker or toilet seats, Snyder said, laughing.
In 1969, Snyder remembers meeting some of the cast and crew from the movie, “The Molly Maguires,” which was filming in Eckley.
About 10 years ago, Snyder even had a chance to serve as an auctioneer.
“It was a breathtaking and thrilling opportunity,” he said. “It was fun.”
Volunteers like Snyder truly form the backbone of the long-running event, said Gerald Geise, auction chairman.
This year Boy Scouts from Troops 281 and 147 helped to move nearly 1,000 boxes out from the library basement to the Odds and Ends Tent Tuesday, Geise said.
“Setting up the Odds and Ends Tent usually takes several days,” Snyder said.
The Boy Scouts did it in about four and a half hours, Geise said.
Both Geise and Snyder agree there is a need to involve youngsters and recruit new volunteers every year.
“This year we had about 200 volunteers for the library auction,” Geise said.
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.