Thursday, September 14, 2006

The City Pool

BJ Class of 68: One of my fondest memories of growing up in Forrest City was spending the whole summer at the city swimming pool. For $50 you could buy a season pass and swim all day every day through June, July and August. It was a big pool with four separate sections.

Each summer as I grew up I took swimming lessons. You started out in the shallow end, which was half-moon shaped. There you just learned to put your face under water and gradually get used to going under water in about two feet of water. Next you graduated to the south section that was about four feet deep and had some monkey bars you could swim around. You learned to glide and kick there. After that, you moved down to the west end of that section of the pool where it was the same depth but no monkey bars to hang onto. On around the pool you progressed each year until finally you were good enough to swim in the deep section in the middle where the diving boards were. By the time I got to high school I was back in the shallow end again, this time as an instructor teaching little three year olds to put their faces in the water.

I loved to swim and always went every day and stayed until closing time at 6:00. I would ride my bike there, my dog running along with me. While I spent the day swimming, he hung out on the other side of the fence under the shade trees until I was ready to go home.

I remember having crushes on the life guards and jumping off the high dive. And, I remember that on a regular basis the pool had to be completely drained and refilled. We hated that because the next day the water was always icy cold.

Anybody remember playing Marco Polo? What fun times we had at the city pool.
(Admin note: Pictures above are similar to F.C. pool but not actual. Anyone have any real ones?)
Butch Class of 60: I was re-reading the pool comments and a couple of other things came to mind. I remember Ollie Warren, among others, doing crazy "dives" off the high dive. Ollie would launch himself in any kind of twisting, somersaulting, flipping thing that could never be referred to as a dive. He would wear a cut off sweat shirt or a T-shirt to protect his back from the frequent pancake landings. There were others, but Ollie was king of the comic dives. I think he also tried some serious diving, maybe in some competitions. Anyone remember that? A few years later, Ollie was part of a trampoline/tumbling troup that entertained basketball crowds at Arkansas State during half-time.
The other memory, isn't so happy. I remember when we were in maybe the sixth or seventh grade, Don Kelly, an older brother of one of our classmates, Jerry, drowned at the pool. He was doing some kind of stunt in the deep end with some other guys. The life guards usually would whistle you away from the back of the deep end, under the diving boards, but they were unaware that Don and his buddies were fooling around down there. I don't know what the object of the stunt was, but they were trying to stay under for a long time. About half way down the pool wall, there was an open port where the very strong filter pump would pull water out of the pool. It was about nine inches across. Don stuck his knee into the port to help him retain his position down deep. The suction prevented him from pulling his knee out and he was unable to get to the surface. The life guards and others frantically took turns diving down and trying to pull him out... Finally, someone turned off the pump, but it was too late. It was a traumatic thing for everyone in town. I never felt right in the pool afterwards. They put a grid-like cover over the exhaust port, but kids stayed away from that area of the pool for a long time.


Anonymous Bogie said...

I also remember going to the pool every day during the summer. Cathy Rosica and I along with Gylinda Bounds, Judy, Gylinda's younger sister, Mary Ann Burrows, Joyce Gray, etc, etc, opened the pool and closed it every day. Tanning was our main goal--we already knew how to swim--laying out on the hard concrete on one thin towel trying to look oh so glamorous for the guys and life guards made our backs hurt the whole summer!! We loved to swim in the deep end like Ester Williams--holding our breath until we turned blue, grinning from ear to ear like her and eyes wide opened!! (Our eyes looked like road maps by the end of the day.) We would do all the "loops" and "flips" like she did in her movies and thought---"oh if only Hollywood were looking!" Of course, I stood 5' 7" and weighed less than 100 lbs. and looked like a young version of Olive Oyl--with my flat chest it was hard to know which way I was going--you had to look at the direction my feet were pointing!! We were putting on shows for the lifeguards, Tommy Schmits and Doyle Butts--I think they got a kick out of our "shows" but they didn't put up with any rough stuff in the deep end. I think our season ticket was $35 in the fifties--I do remember my parents thinking it was way too much for me to have a good time. They were not in the habit of spending $35 on anything for me in those days--my clothes didn't even cost that much!
Sometimes--when the "time of the month" called for it, we girls would just hang around the pool, sitting on the benches and watching the guys go by. We might get lucky and they would stop to talk to us for awhile. Anyway, the pool was our salvation during the summer--it was the best thing for keeping us out of trouble. (We never considered doing anything to get into trouble anyway.) Tee Hee!!

Sat Sep 16, 07:30:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Butch Ford said...

Wow! I sure am glad you 'splained those pool photos. I couldn't figure out why I couldn't remember that pool in the picture. I didn't go to the pool to swim very often. I had to work most of the time in the summer and only went to the pool when I made the afternoon grocery delivery run. So, I couldn't stick around very long. I remember always seeing a bunch of girls lying around on the bank, soaking up the sun.

Does anyone remember that little pool of chlorine at the end of the hall you had to wade through to get to the pool area? The whole building smelled like it. I guess it killed all the cooties. You had to be careful not to get it on your swimming suit.

The swimming pool area was the main summertime social center for most of the kids in FC back in those days. The tennis courts, the Little League Ballpark, the swings. It was a great place to go. I don't have any bad memories of the pool. Just sitting on those benches under the trees and watching the girls walk by is definitely a good memory. During summer afternoons and evenings, "the pool" was a definite stop on the "riding around" circuit. The Skipper, the Dairy Diner, the Imperial, the pool and back again. Of course, there were other destinations that weren't necessarily on the "circuit." A lot of guys and girls got together at the pool.

I remember my first sighting of a VW Beetle at the pool. It was tan and had little metal flag-things that stuck out on each side for making turn signals. A girl from the class of '61 owned it. Joann something, I think. She dated Bill Walker. I can't remember her name. I remember watching in amazement as Donnie Kessinger and his brother, Bill, played tennis. Real tennis. I had never seen tennis played that well. I didn't know you could hit a tennis ball that hard much less make it land inside the baseline - every time. I can still remember that explosive sound - POCK! - rather than the puny little "poing" sound my racket made.

Speaking of hitting it hard, does anyone out there remember who hit the first home run ever in the new Little League Park? Here's a clue. He played Little League for Planters Bank. Need another? He was the best baseball player (and basketball and football) ever from our neck of the woods. Another clue? He graduated in 1960. Any ideas? Come on.

Fri Sep 22, 09:42:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was it Donnie Kessinger? And, didn't he later played for the Chicago Cubs?

Thu Sep 28, 05:58:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Bogie said...

Hey Butch! What memories you have!! And Booger? Well, I began to question my accuracy on the matter and pulled my '60 annual. There he is....6th from the right on the back row. Or are my eyes getting too old to see? I'm on the front row 3rd from the right. We had just had a big laugh and Mr. Thomas said to straighten up--so we did and the photo was taken--I looked like I was about to break up again--which I did!! I was holding back a good laugh from a joke that filtered down from the top row--but Mr. Thomas was having none of it!!
We were such a disappointment for him--we were great during the concerts but gave him heck during our "off time"!!
By the way--you signed my annual that year--inside the front cover and on another page--do you remember the other page?

Fri Oct 06, 06:04:00 AM 2006  

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