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What did we do without all those swimming pools?

Posted Wednesday, June 2, 2010, at 11:20 AM

Remember when Bloomfield didn't have a pool? Shakamak didn't have a pool. Linton didn't have a pool. Nobody I knew had a backyard pool, and that included above-ground contraptions. A few people with wee ones did have tiny plastic blow-up pools they'd sit out in the yard for an afternoon. Whatever did kids do without any pools? Somehow we survived.

In those days, a few of my summers started with dreaded early morning trips to McCormick's Creek to learn how to swim. McCormick's Creek had a pool -- the coldest pool on earth. One of the other girls in the carpool to McCormick's said it was cold because the water came from a spring. It felt like someone had gone out the night before and thrown a few huge chunks of ice in the thing.

Despite the temperature of the water, there was a little group of girls whose parents decided it was necessary to take turns driving us to McCormick's. The lessons were way too early in the morning and I can't remember anyone running to jump in with glee. It was that cold. We'd shiver and shake and in no time at all, our lips were purple.

Afternoons at McCormick's were more pleasant, especially after the sun came out, more so as the summer wore on and the water finally heated up a bit.

For several years, Worthington sent a school bus to McCormick's on one or two afternoons a week and any kid who wanted to go swim could jump on. It didn't cost much -- seems like it was 50 cents to swim and it was probably a dime or a quarter to ride the bus. We didn't have to sign up to ride, we didn't have to bring a permission slip, we just had to show up, pay our share and jump on. We'd spend the afternoon at the McCormick's pool, walk over to the concession stand for a treat then all would jump back on the bus and be back in town late in the afternoon.

Besides the lack of big pools, there was no Holiday World. Though I did get to go with a girlfriend's family down to Vincennes one Sunday afternoon to a big round pool that looked like a cross between a lake and a pool -- seems like it was called Rainbow something. That was a big day, not so much because of the pool, but because her parents had a huge convertible and we had the top down all the way there and all the way home. No seatbelts -- those were the days when the number of girls who could ride in the back seat was not determined by the number of seatbelts installed (there were none) but by how tightly we could squeeze in. So we'd alternate -- one would sit toward the back of the seat, then one would perch on the edge of the seat, etc. -- the more the merrier.

The old pool at McCormick's was down the long grassy hill behind the Canyon Inn. It has disappeared now, all except for the memories, and been replaced by a newer pool in a different location in the park.

Then Linton got a pool and that was a big deal in Greene County. Then Bloomfield, then finally Shakamak.

I just read in the paper this week that the price of admission into the Bloomfield pool is $3.50. Hmmm, guess I'm becoming like my ancestors talking about how much things used to cost. Remember when a glass bottle of Coke or Sunkist was a dime? A candy bar was a nickel.

When I saw that price of admission, I couldn't help but think back to the days when I had a dollar bill and could pay for a ride to McCormick's, swim for the afternoon, buy a soda and a candy bar for the ride back home, and when I got there, I'd still have some change leftover.

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I enjoy your columns... little tid-bits of this and that about this area. Keep up the good work!

And yes, I enjoyed the Linton pool, but the best times were skinny dipping with my best friend late at night in a couple of the local stripper pits! And we were never afraid... what a blissful time, fireflies overhead... the warm currents moving through the water...

ahhhhh.... to be 17 again...

-- Posted by gardengal#1 on Tue, Jun 22, 2010, at 1:07 AM

Sullivan had a pool around 1960 or 61, but we swam in the stripper pits. Robin Hood north of Longs Chapel, Horse Shoe north of Cass, High Wall West of Dugger, and the one Crane took over north of Cass for sonar testing.

I came home from service, putting up bean hay and went for a dip and the navy threw me out of the old swimming hole.

Then in the seventies the DNR guys started to get tough and we lost the freedom to swim in open pits and lakes.

But the thing is I never knew of anyone drowning through all those years.

Our children are deprived of these freedoms that we sat still and let the few tell all the rest how to live.

I would not trade my life for any in this latest generation.

-- Posted by Busseron on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 11:47 PM

Was the 32 at Shakamak the big tower you could jump off of? I can only remember being over there a couple of times, but I do remember watching people go off that thing.

Do they not have that anymore?

-- Posted by just sayin'... on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 1:58 PM

The name of the pool in Vincennes is Rainbow beach and it was a very cool pool. :) And I'm sorry Sasha, but your memories fail in comparison. LOL :)

-- Posted by Hoosierxheart71 on Sat, Jun 5, 2010, at 7:49 PM

My cousin Joe, would do the 32 and swim under water very close to the beach- the life guards were looking for the "body" in the platform area, he would then surface and just laugh at them. He sure got the life guards a fired up.

-- Posted by the voice of the common man on Wed, Jun 2, 2010, at 11:34 PM

As always, Anna, you offer great articles, and I compliment you!

I recall 50 cent admission at the Bloomfield pool when I was growing up in the late 60's /early 70's. In the summer you daringly walked barefoot through the freshly tarred and graveled road or risked messing up the entire bicycle!

However, the frozen Milky Way candy bars and the mixture of fountain drinks called "suicide" and then the new black cherry drink, each for just a quarter for refreshments while listening to 8-tracks of pop songs on the loud p.a. during pool check!

We had a couple of seasons of lessons there for the kids, years later, and then, it closed. So, we built our own pool, and now, the town pool is back again!

-- Posted by LITERATI on Wed, Jun 2, 2010, at 6:50 PM

Ah, the 32 at Shakamak. I learned to swim in Shakamak Lake.

-- Posted by ISUgrad06 on Wed, Jun 2, 2010, at 4:00 PM

I remember well the price of a nickle candy bar, and ten cents for a movie. Santa Claus Land, no seat belts, the 32 at Lake Shakamak and all the fun things. We are not old we just remember the good times.

-- Posted by ssbos on Wed, Jun 2, 2010, at 1:27 PM

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Anna Rochelle is editor of the Greene County Daily World and can be reached on Facebook or by sending an email to indianarose@fastmail.us.