I was going to run another series on the big band era, but after seeing the picture of the swimming pool on the front page of The Fort Scott Tribune, it brought back so many memories that I decided to write about the pool. More about the big band next week.
In my growing up years in Fort Scott, I think the swimming pool was my second home. If there was anything I liked better than swimming, I don't know what it was. I spent many, many happy hours in that swimming pool.
It was so sad to see that it was being demolished. But if I remember, it was built during the Depression by the WPA. So . . . looks like it needed to be replaced.
I loved swimming under water, and I spent a lot of time seeing how far I could go under water before having to surface before my lungs would burst. I could make it across the width without coming up and almost the length. I loved diving and spent lots of time trying to perfect my jack knife and swan dive. I also liked doing flips. One day as I was going into a flip, I tucked my knees up too tight and hit my nose and broke it. That was the last time I ever did a flip.
One summer when I was in high school, I worked at Bennett's Ice Cream Parlor. Sometimes I did a split shift. I would get off at 2 p.m. and go back at 6 p.m. I either walked to work or rode my bike. I would race home and get my swimmin' suit and tear down to the pool and swim for a couple of hours. Then I would race home, change my clothes and head back to Bennett's. I must have looked like a drowned rat, my hair hadn't had a chance to dry.
The summer of my junior year, the Red Cross sponsored a swimming and life saving class down in Missouri. Both Kenny Douglas and I were chosen to go. All expenses were paid. It was for a week. We learned how to handle a boat, teaching techniques for teaching swimming, life-saving classes, how to do artificial respiration and how to teach both junior and senior life saving classes. I had a great time. In return, for the week in Missouri, we had to teach swimming and life-saving classes. I loved that; it was more like play than working. I also loved teaching the small kids how to swim.
When I took my life-saving course at the pool, we had to "save" our instructor. He weighed over 200 pounds and really put up a fight. After I finally got my over-arm grasp on him, I really had to work to get him to the side of the pool.
I would always lie out in the sun and by the end of the summer I was very, very tanned. My mama was always telling me that some day I would be sorry, but what did she know. I just went right ahead "til my skin was brown as leather." What did she know? Well . . . as usual, she was right. I wish I had listened to her. Truth be told, can't ever remember her ever being wrong. As I have said many times, those were the "good ole days."