Thursday, May 20, 2010

story: magic wading pool

Before Percy Norman Pool was built, kids in the neighborhood learned the art of swimming and other things in the wading pool beside the caretakers house along side the lane.

Wading pool photo courtesy of VPL

I can remember those hot summers when our mother would round us up and lead us to the pool. We would make the trip up Ontario Street from 24th with our towels flung over our shoulders and our swim suits under our shorts, hopefully.

Marc (left) and Greg (right) sit on Dad's Austin
in the backyard of their house at Ontario and 24th.
photo courtesy of Marc Holmes

We would be strung out along the street following our mother like a family of ducks off to the pond. Our bare feet flapping on the warm pavement and dancing over the scorching asphalt roads that crossed our path. When we rounded the corner, where Percy Norman Pool is today, there was a vacant lot to navigate covered with clover, buzzing bees and hidden pieces of broken glass. Stepping ever so carefully and weaving our way through the maze of traps waiting for us in our bare feet.
Bare feet
Mother must have been saving those new Woodward's Dollars for runners at $1.49 Day!

All the local families would be spread out on blankets on the grass around the wading pool. We would make our way to the water and stick our feet in. Jeez it was cold! I can remember it like it was yesterday. You would gradually make it in up to that most private of places for kids and stop cold. It seemed like an eternity standing in one spot frozen in time and thought... until some kid splashed you from behind! The culprit most likely would be your older brother and so you got in to it and entirely wet in the following melee forgetting the cold water altogether.
Everyone learned the dog paddle. You could cheat by keeping your feet on the bottom and pretend to swim, but everyone knew what you where doing.
It was primeval panic in that little pool like a school of fish jostling for position and water going every direction at once. Amazing any of the water stayed in the pool! The surrounding concrete was soaked with it.
Boys went running with cupped hands full of water to throw on the backs of girls laying on their blankets peacefully minding they own business. Somehow it delighted us to hear the screams and get a reaction as the cold water splashed over their backs.
There was a magic to that outside pool that you don't get from an indoor one. A certain freedom to run around and just be a kid. Great memories that I'll always remember.

The pool was taken out along with the teeter-totters because of a budget cut from someone at City Hall who probably already lost their own memories of being a kid.

By Greg Holmes

Greg Holmes in an exception to the dress code of the day.
(He was sure to have gotten out of those clothes
immediately after the picture was taken. )

1 comment:

Always wondering said...

Boy, does that ever bring back memories of running with bare feet on the warm sidewalk and the hot asphalt.
The buzzing bees, the grass and the outside pool.
Those were good memories, and thank for bringing them back.