Medford has long honored its own by naming public buildings and parks after loyal public servants.
From Spiegelberg Stadium and Prescott Park to the Lausmann Annex at City Hall, people who have spent their days promoting Medford's interests or molding its youth are remembered in a very tangible way. Such is the case with Fichtner-Mainwaring Park in southwest Medford.
If 'Clyde the Cop' Fichtner was tooling around Medford on his 1937 Harley-Davidson and heard you say that,
he wouldn't have taken
offense. A "knucklehead" was the name of the H-D engine design used from 1936-1947. Why? If you sit on the seat of a knucklehead machine and look down to the right side of the engine, the rocker box looks like the knuckles on your fist. 'Knucklehead' as a term of derision, meanwhile, dates back only to World War II.
The 32-acre park was part of a 64-acre Oakdale Orchards park development, 38 acres of which was donated and 26 purchased from Bear Creek Corp. in 1973. In 1974, the City Council dedicated the park in honor of Clyde Fichtner and Ken Mainwaring. In 1976, the city sold off the adjoining 32 acres to pay for park development.
Fichtner joined the Medford Police Department in 1937 as the city's first motorcycle traffic patrolman and retired as captain in 1973. He was known as "Clyde the Cop" by local schoolchildren for three decades before entering retirement.
Fichtner began a school crosswalk safety patrol in Medford that drew national recognition and an annual bicycle safety program. His daughter, Shirley Dempsey, says he touched young people in a far more personal and behind-the-scenes way, too.
"He was a truant officer for years and in the days before foster homes, my father was always bringing a child home that was in trouble for one reason or another," Dempsey recalls. "He always said there was no such thing as a bad boy, just a boy with problems. All my life, I could remember we had young people living in our home on Reddy Avenue and Oakdale Avenue.
"I can remember one time a boy carrying a paper bag in and that was the sum total of his possessions. Another time, a 9-year-old stayed with us a whole year and brought his dog and cat."
Fichtner had to hoof if for a short period before the Harley-Davidson the police department ordered him arrived. Five years later he joined the Navy as an instructor at Mare Island in the Bay Area during World War II. When the war ended, he returned to the Rogue Valley.
The patrolman was chasing a speeding driver down West Main Street in 1947 when he crashed and permanently injured his leg, ending his motorcycle days. He was promoted to captain in 1957. He died in 1974.
Mainwaring, in many ways, was a protege of Fichtner, working with youth programs. He was vice chairman of the Oregon Crime Prevention Officers Association at the time of his death in June 1974.
Mainwaring died while on a two-day backpacking trip with kids from the Lincoln Center. He was trying to help some swimmers who were struggling in the Rogue River about three miles downstream from Grave Creek when he disappeared. His body was recovered about a week later at Devil's Stair near Blossom Bar.
In spring 1975 the City Council, after a great deal of discussion, decided to dedicate the park in honor of both law enforcement officers.