From elementary school through my early teens, summer meant hanging out at the Adel swimming pool. Although our town was small, we had our own public pool, which, in my mind, put us a step above the surrounding towns. The pool was more than 25 years old and not in top condition, but my summer fun revolved around it.
My family lived in the country, and my mom and dad both worked, so Grandma Eva-who lived in town--had the thankless job of putting up with us until we left for the pool. Sadly for her, it didn’t open until 2:00 to insure the required two hours to digest our lunch. Without that cushion of time, all the swimmers would sink like rocks and litter the pool bottom with their lifeless bodies.
Every day around 1:30, Dan and I started walking so we could arrive at the pool the second it opened. Dressed in our swimsuits with our towels slung around our necks, we plodded on the steaming asphalt to the park. Rubber flip-flops, my summer footwear, didn’t do much to protect my feet from the hot tar. And my moaning and complaining didn't make the walk any faster or more pleasant.
We invariably arrived early and were waiting when the pool door opened. After showing our season tickets, we collected our locker keys, which were attached to ugly pins that left holes in our swimsuits. I quickly learned to pin the key to my beach towel.
The women’s locker room was bare bones with damp concrete floors, wooden benches, metal lockers, and curtained shower stalls. Everyone was supposed to shower before entering the pool, but I skipped that step. Suppose I got my hair wet! There was no avoiding the dank “foot bath” we had to wade through to reach the pool area. I don't want to imagine what was growing in that stagnant water.
Inside the fenced area I looked for my friends where we hung out near the deep end. We spread our beach towels on the burning cement, gossiped, and worked on our tans. There wasn’t much actual swimming, just occasional dips in the water to cool off. Our “sunscreen” of baby oil and iodine speeded the tanning process, or, in my case, the burn that always preceded the tan. My skin was saved from complete destruction because Mom swung by at 3:30 to take us home.
When I turned fourteen, summer jobs began cutting into my pool time. My first job was detasseling corn: hot, sticky, stinky, sweaty, dirty work.
After that I “helped” in my mom’s office at the county courthouse. (My "help" mostly increased her stress.)
For two summers I sorted eggs at a chicken farm. At the time I didn't think about how inhumane it was. Now the conditions those poor birds lived in gag me.
One memorable summer in college I worked at a mall shoe store under--literally, if he'd had his way--a lecherous manager who ended up in jail. But that’s a story for another post. (I looked for a dirty old man photo, but none of them did him justice.)
This month Adel shut down the crumbling old pool and opened a new aquatic center.
It's doubtful anyone will miss the "character" of the old pool, but it left me with some great memories.