As a young girl, I would lie on the grass at the Willows Pool–on top of the old faded “used-to-be” navy blue and red Indian blanket, a blanket so threadbare that I easily rolled it up and carried my bathing suit and season pass in it as it rested on my hip and I walked from Fifth Street to the pool at the bottom of Washington Avenue. When I stared up into the blue sky filled with fluffy white clouds, I tried to make out shapes in the white fields of cotton candy. I could so clearly see trees and Indian chiefs and dogs and cats.
The smell of chlorine and French fry grease floated from the pump house and the concession stand at either end of the pool. In between, but closest to the deep end, was the red-painted float that sat in the water in the deep end. The water wasn’t always the cleanest, but we were kids and didn’t know the difference. Not even when we ran through the fenced-in shallow oval-shaped baby pool and felt the slime on the aqua paint beneath our bare feet. Not even when we watched the lifeguards scoop out baby droppings from either pool with a big net.
At the leg to my swimsuit, or sometimes up on the strap, I attached the big metal safety pin with a number that corresponded to the basket sitting on the shelf in the girls’ locker room. When I put my street clothes into that wire receptacle and placed it on the wooden counter, in exchange, Mrs. Verner handed me my numbered pin. I never lost one.
What wonderful idyllic summers those were. Wouldn’t it be sweet to go back for just one day? Maybe I can sit on my deck and smell the chlorine and study the sky and watch as the clouds roll over my head.Maybe, if I listen closely, I will be able to hear the loud speaker system whose sound reached from the pool to my home on Fifth Street. Ah, but I’m on Eleventh Street now and that won’t be possible.