Friday, June 19, 2009

Swimming Pools

I don't have a clue what it was like to be a kid in Scottsboro in the 50's. I have a bit of an idea because Alabama isn't that different from North to South - but I was in Evergreen, AL.

The pool we had was called Binion's Pool. It had a Sandy bottom and was fed from a natural spring. The sides were made of wood and were at a slant. It had a diving board and a slide(I think) and a concession area with picnic tables, screened in areas, restrooms which were more like outhouses. I don't want to ruin the beauty of this image, thinking about those restrooms. We didn't call them restrooms. I maybe used those once when I was at a school picnic and it was an all day event.

The shallow end began much like the bay water on the coast or any lake would, but in Evergreen, AL I didn't know about swimming in lakes. I knew about swimming in the saltwater bay area, and the gulf and at Binion's pool. I think it was called Binion's Pool because the land and all of it belonged to the Binion family. I can see some of their faces.

To drive to it from Evergreen we had to go down highway 31 south and it seemed like forever to me. Probably wasn't. We'd travel out, maybe the same distance as going to Hollywood from Scottsboro and there was a billboard with a lady swimming - showing all the blue wet water - I think she was doing the "crawl", is that a swimstroke? - she had on a swimcap and goggles. and her mouth was open taking a deep breath as she swam. The picture illustrated all of that wet blue cool water and got me fired up when I saw it. I knew we were about to turn left when I saw that billboard. Otherwise I wouldn't have known because it was just a lot of Alabama farm land - with fences and everything looked the same - all along there would be a long dirt road going somewhere down those fields. If I saw the billboard I knew it was about time to turn down the one road. We'd turn left and drive the length of maybe two large fields - couldn't see it from the highway. One would never have known there was something like Disney World down that long stretch of road - except for the Billboard with the lady swimming.

At the end of the road would open up this 50's style developed area with a sandy bottom pool and a screened in eating area and concession stand. It was always hot - very hot - and a bit prickly in the area where we parked - walking from that to the pool area - but there was a lot of sand - and in my mind's eye it seemed rather white. I don't know if they shipped in Sand or if in that area of Conecuh County there was light colored sand. Surely this wasn't comparable to the Silver Sand on the Gulf Coast - but to me - well, I'm trying to be honest here - my memory recalls a lot of white sand. I was much impressed. I loved it.

Here's the thing - it seems like an expanse of time when we enjoyed Binion's Pool - but I know that when I was in the first grade we did take an end of the year trip to Binions but by my second grade year a new pool had been built in Evergreen. I have a picture of Daddy and me, I'm in diapers - probably 1 year - and Daddy's holding me and we're at Binions. One of Mom holding me too. I also have memories of annoying rides "OUT TO BINIONS" - We were hot - the moms had piled the backseat with us kids - they were in the front having a chat while we all were crowded in the backseat - no car airconditioning - windows down - no seatbelts - unheard of in those days - I can remember a scene.

Mother is driving, my aunt Florence is in the passenger's seat - they are in deep conversation. Mary Ann(my sister), myself, my cousin Rachel, and my cousin Rusty are in the backseat. We're hot, we're ready to be at the pool, and Rachel is standing leaning on the front seat. The other 3 of us are seated on those gray fabric seats of our gray chevrolet. Rachel begins to sing the chorus of a contemporary song which I must look for on my playlist - and she sings it over and over and over and over in a monotone voice until Rusty tells her to quit. I'm thinking, "Thank you." But she didn't quit and he yells it louder and finally tells Florence to tell her to quit. Florence told her to quit, but she didn't and Florence didn't pay attention to that fact and I'm going nuts because she's still singing the chorus. I think Rusty gave up on her quitting, and soon we were at Binions.

Folks - the sibling - annoying thing - the human irritations - they've been going on for centuries. As well as the parent/child/discipline/obedience/rebellion/all of that - for centuries - Nothing is new under the sun.

Let me just say that as I write this - Both Rachel and Rusty now at ages 56 and 60 have told me that they read this blog.

Rachel was a precious little girl - she was probably 4 or 3 at the time - I was probably 5 - Rusty and Mary Ann 7 - we were kids. That says enough, doesn't it? Florence and Mother(Edith) were moms and glad to be in an adult conversation and didn't really care that much what was going on in the back seat. It couldn't have been too bad if the screams didn't get too loud.

We had friends down the street, on Williams Street, named the Smalls. I have memories, too, of riding out to Binions Pool with them. Again - one of us standing up leaning on the front seat. It was Sidney who was the age of Mary Ann.

I am so visual and can see these images. So weird.

What made me write about this is that Ann has taken her children to a friend's pool - and has just called me because I was to come get Andrew after he woke up and she fed him.

I can't write about remembering Binion's pool because I need to go get Andrew out of that hot sun.

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