|Someone was always paging "Jim Nasium" or
"Anita Shower" or "Jenny Tull" or something
worse. Then there was the Snack Bar, where
everything tasted great because you were starving.
They had those great fries and great hot dogs.
Well, that's how I remember it anyway. Sucking
it in for the girls on the blanket, the locker key
band mark, having Mom sew your pass on, the
lifeguard's whistle freezing the action. Ah, the
memories go on and on!
We kids couldn't get enough of it. We would
walk the length and breadth of Dormont to get
there and do it every day in the summer.
Sometimes that wasn't enough!
|Dormont Pool, the largest pool in all of the land.
Built in 1923, this football field size aquatic
behemoth that tempers the temperature with its
cool, clear waters and exhilarates the masses with
its features for every age, is the place to be in the
summer. Enough memories were cast there that
they could fill it; Sitting beside it in its cool grass
as a toddler, splashing your Mom in the shallows.
Running and high stepping from the "warm" end
to as far as you could go before falling face first
in the water. Early morning swim lessons while
the water still held its chill. It was so cold that
you felt as if you had just crashed through ice.
Sliding down the slide once I went head first
down the little slide and chipped a tooth on the
pool floor. I still have the chipped tooth in my
Swinging from the handle bar on the big dual
slide to loft yourself towards the "hump."
Finding your feet had just stopped touching
the bottom at the mid-rope. Then, the ultimate
proof of reaching manhood, or womanhood,
swimming the width of the pool, back and forth,
before being able to swim in the "deep end."
You wait and wait hoping to reach this milestone
and when you think you are ready, you're not.
Doing it, to this day, was the hardest thing I've
ever done. Your first ascent up the high diving
board and then to the end of the board where
you stand and after much coaxing from your
friends to "jump" you jump straight in feet first.
The smack of the water on your feet makes you
wonder how anyone actually can dive in! Then
you see some high school-er do the "Triple Lindy"
dive from the high board! Borrowing your Brother's
underwater mask for the off chance that some
girls' top will come off, stubbing your toe. "No
running!" The list goes on and on!
|After our Little League games a bunch of us would sneak into the pool after dark. We'd strip out of our
uniforms, climb the fence on the Memorial Road side and take a dip with anyone brave enough or stupid
enough to take on the consequences. We never got caught in those days. Splashing like fools and screaming
never attracted much attention. After numerous times with no consequences it was no big deal. Eventually
we stopped. We found other things to do. Or, should I say, other forms of trouble.
It wasn't until years later that I found myself in Dormont Park after dark and looking for something to do
that it entered my head. It was after a night of drinking in the stands of the Pony League Field with the late
Pete Miller. "Pete, let's go swimming! "Where?" "Where else? Dormont Pool of course!" I exclaimed. Pete
wasn't too hip to the idea but after some cajoling and a few more beers we soon found ourselves lurking down
the hill towards the pool. I started stripping down to my skivvies getting ready to hoist myself over the fence
when Pete, looking back and forth over his shoulder said, "Okay, if we're gonna do this we need to act as if we
are penetrating enemy lines in Vietnam. "Huh?" "Yeah, I don't want to get caught so be really quiet and we'll
just slip into the water like we're frogmen. You know, like we are in Vietnam." I almost laughed but just said,
We jumped the fence and carefully navigated through the thin brush to the slope of the pool perimeter. I looked
back at Pete, he was still following. I slowly inched my way into the cool liquid and immersed myself. Pete
followed. We swam under the water as far as we could. I was now envisioning myself as Martin Sheen from
"Apocalypse Now." We swam with shallow breathing, no splashing, silent, silent & deadly, rising silently from
the depths to peer into enemy territory. We made our way to the middle of the pool's expanse. In a whisper I
challenged Pete to swim to the rope underwater. I took a deep breath and like Mark Spitz was swimming like a
tadpole to the rope. I emerged to find a bright beam of light in my face!
I wasn't just a deer in the headlights, I was an escaping con with the tower spotlight on me! I raised my hand to
shield my eyes from the light, when I heard, "Dormont Police! Get out of the pool!" It was then that Pete popped
out of the water breathless. Pete looked at me, looked at the cop and immediately ducked under the water. The
cop shook his head, looked at me and said, "We'll just wait for your friend to come up again." After about three
minutes Pete exploded to the surface gasping for air. We made our way to the 6 foot marker where the cop was
standing. I looked up to see it was Mr. Johnny-on-the-spot, Joe Gonzalez, we hadn't been in the pool no more than
five minutes! But that was Joe. Joe Gonzalez had a knack for that sort of thing. Due to previous run-ins with Joe,
I had managed to elevate him to Sergeant Status. I think he appreciated that, even if I didn't. He saw that it was me
and Pete. "Oh, it's you guys! You're too old for this $&%@! Don't do it again, get out of here." "Thanks Joe! We
won't do it again! Thanks!" Pete and I bolted out of there before he could change his mind.
As we were scrambling back up the hill of Dormont Park, we heard the screeching tires of a second cop car, lights
flashing and siren blaring. Joe was walking up to his car in the Pool Parking Lot. Pete and I ducked behind a tree
about half way up the hill. We watched as the female cop, Tina, jumped out of her car and started yelling at Joe.
"Where are they?! Where are they?!" Joe just said, "I let them go." "What?! What do you mean you let them go?!
I heard they were skinny-dipping!" Tina screamed. Joe looked at her shaking his head, "They had underwear on Tina,
you didn't miss anything." She was still berating him as we skulked away.
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