Darklings, I grew up a beach kid, living near the shores of the Pacific Ocean until I moved to New York in my twenties, but I have always had a love and appreciation for swimming pools in the summertime. When I was a kid, we’d go on family vacations to visit my aunt and uncle in Colorado. It was a two-day drive to get there from Los Angeles, and we would stop somewhere near Flagstaff, Arizona, always staying at the same, good ol’ Best Western motel because it had a swimming pool. I have vivid memories from that motel and the excitement of pulling into the parking lot with my mom and dad after a very long day’s drive, looking out the window and seeing the big, glistening, blue pool just waiting for me to jump in. I couldn’t get out of our Windstar Minivan fast enough.
Just got back into lap swimming last January because a small (3 lane) salt water lap pool opened up just a few minutes from my house. I'm not exaggerating when I say it has totally changed my level of happiness and wellbeing. The fact that it's salt water keeps the chemicals to a minimum so my skin can tolerate it. I'm there 3 to 4 times a week. It's a kind of therapy and this new body of mine (sponsored by Menopause!) is actually starting to feel like it belongs to me again. Heaven. Have you seen the trailer for this documentary by Jón Karl Helgason about swimming pools and their importance in Icelandic culture? https://vimeo.com/707890302 It looks amazing but I haven't found a source to watch it yet.
Amber, I grew up in Los Angeles in the 50s along with your mom, though I wouldn't meet her for some years yet. I much prefer the Pacific Ocean, but my first kiss was in Andy Simpson's pool, across the street from where we lived when I was about 9 years old. When I lived in Lone Pine, a few years shy of meeting your mom in Mammoth, all us kids spent our summers at the Lone Pine plunge. It was either that or Diaz Lake, a muddy and reedy gathering of water, or Dirty Socks, a sulfur smelling spring someone put a large metal tank around. At least at the plunge, us kiddos could walk to it. Later, in June Lake sometime in the 70s, we were all drinking fairly heavily when I tried to do a back flip into Andy Oldfield's Boulder Lodge indoor pool. I was never good at gymnastics and I had a nasty rash for a solid week to prove the growing legend of my spectacular belly flop. I kept to leaping off the tall rocks around June Lake after that. Now I live in Ontario, Canada. There's an indoor pool relatively close, in Sturgeon Falls, but I tell myself I'm too fat, too old, and too busy to go there. Been doing that the past 20 years. Maybe it's time to buy another bathing suit?
Middle of winter in Sydney 🇦🇺 at the moment, but I was lucky enough to grow up around the corner from my maternal grandparents, who had a pool in their backyard. My dad took me swimming for the first time on Christmas Day of 1994- I was a whole of 12 days old. While I swam competitively during the year with my swim team, I loved splashing around with my cousins in our grandparents pool the most. Summer nights under the stars, diving for sinkies and 20 cent pieces, and, when my bachelor uncle was in town, watching movies that he’d project onto the colourbond fence.
My parents now live in that house, the one I knew so well as a child, and my kids are making their own memories in said pool. There are photos of my dad, throwing my 9yo into the air, that mimic photos of myself as a child. The squeals of delight of my 3yo shrieking “cannonball” and launching himself into the deep end, the relaxed look on my 4yo’s face as he eats yet another ice block sitting on the steps. My cousins, now full grown, dive for the sinkies with my kids, the smell of sausages cooking in the air. This summer just gone, once the kids were long in bed, I lay in my favourite float, gossiping with my favourite cousin and original partner in crime- a scene entirely too familiar for our family!
Thankful for this sunburnt country, and the memories of summers gone ❤️
I grew up swimming in the ocean. New York has great beaches. Rockaway, Coney Island, Fire Island Long Beach, Jones Beach, just to name a few. I also love pools. Growing up in Queens, we would sneak into neighbor's yards at night to go swimming. I was a chef for a while, and after a long hot night in the kitchen, I would go to my local bar, order a beer, and then go around the block to my friend's house. I would take off my clothes and jump in the pool. After I was cooled off, I would get dressed and go back to the bar. Everyone would ask why my hair was wet. I never told where I went because my friend said only I could use it.
We installed a pool here at home last year. Before it was installed I was nervous about upkeep and maintenance, the terrible wind we get up here on the hill in the winter destroying it, cleaning it, etc. That pool is my husband's dream. Being in the pool, the 4 of us, is so much fun. We're all connected. Laughing and playing. No distractions. Just us. I'm grateful for it now.
My family keep convening on my parents house because they have a pool. We grew up with it and took it for granted. My sister wants one for her house but doesn’t have one yet.
Love your pool nostalgia. Here's one from my files. I grew up in Eugene, Oregon and spent the summers at the Amazon Pool - which had zero Big Shopping associations at that point and was just a local outdoor community pool. My friend Hannah and I would lay out on that scorching hot poolside pavement, towels arranged side by side, waiting for "Kevin" to show up - a hunky guy a few years older who would "make an entrance" with a towel coiled around his broad (and very tan) shoulders. He would walk in slowly, sunglasses on, assessing the pool scene from the locker room doorway. He seemed to move in slow motion for us, making his way in our direction with a slow, confident stride. Hannah had boobs already, and I didn't, so I always felt childish and quiet around him - like I was just there to observe their adolescent flirtation. I still love the smell of hot pavement, and of the petrichor scent after a summer rain. I now remember that Kevin had been very overweight in elementary school, only later transforming into super babe after 7th grade. I think that's why he was so nice to us. He was genuine and easygoing - because he wasn't born hot. And that made him even more appealing. Thanks for triggering that memory......
I loved swimming at my neighbors’ house when I was little. He provided entertainment, such as eating Chips Ahoy cookies underwater, while I watched!
Your love of pools is similar to my love of river rafts and pontoon boats. I recently begged a friend for a ride on her pontoon boat... "I never ask for anything from anyone, let alone beg, and for this I make the exception. Please." Out on the lake I wondered why anyone would ever leave their pontoon boat. I believe the old movie Houseboat with Cary Grant and Sophia Loren made a lasting impact. I may need to find one and move in.
Not so many great memories as a kid, but a lot of great memories with my kids when they were younger--My ex and I would take the kids to a local pool almost every summer weekend and spend hours there. They loved it, and I just loved watching them frolic with each other and their friends, not to mention the "down time" away from work. Then, on the way back, there was (and still is!) a great local, old-fashioned ice cream parlor where all of the flavours are homemade and they make the BEST milkshakes (milkshakes are my kryptonite; I have zero resistance to them), and we would always stop. Those memories still make me smile..........
My sister and I used to go around our neighborhood selling homemade chocolate chip cookies to raise money to go to the community pool! Very quintessential midwestern, small town, early 90s vibes. I've been reflecting on all my childhood summer memories in preparation for Camp Awe-gust and pools are absolutely central to so many of my favorite ones- expedition goggles and shallow end handstands and underwater tea parties! 🌊
I grew up in Boston and swam in the cold Atlantic Ocean often as a kid, but now I live just east of the border of Ohio--landlocked except for our beautiful rivers which are not recommended for swimming (believe me, I ask everyone).
Instead, one of my favorite summer activities has been visiting all of the city pools in Pittsburgh. It took me five years after moving here to learn about city pools and the pool pass that costs $15 for the whole summer to visit any and all pools you like. Last year, I visited the 12 that were open. It was an excuse to explore my city more and get to know other neighborhoods and people. This year there are 15 pools open across the city and I'm on my way again :)
My best pool memory is actually a winter memory. When I lived in Ketchum Idaho, there was a full sized pool fed by the local hot springs. We often snuck in after the bars closed. Leading to one of the most memorable experiences of my life: skinny-dipping during a blizzard.
Amber!! I love this. I had a pool at my home in 2004, and I had the cast party for the L word there. — a lot of skinny-dipping, but we had a rule. No non-nude people in the pool area. It was closed off! Every new person that came to the pool was required to stand NUDE on the end of the diving board—and we turn the bright spotlight on them for a “5 second MEAT glance”— the entire pool group with shout out, loud “one, two, three, four, five” and then light was shut off, and then that person would jump into the pool with the rest of us.
I just watched Showgirls for the first time last week (I'm 54). Yes, I loved him sucking champagne off Elizabeth's outstanding breast but how did she not drown during those climax spasms?