The Jaycees' Swimming Pool
For about fifteen years, it was one of the best places to be when the weather was hot and you needed cooling down. Sixty years ago this summer, the Dublin Junior Chamber of Commerce, known as the Jaycees, opened a pool at the western end of Stubbs Park. Beginning on July 7, 1951 and ending about the year 1966, when social conditions in Dublin and around the South precipitated its closing, the Jaycees' Pool was a place where fond memories were made.
One of the first operators of the pool was Dublin High football coach, Tom Stewart, and his wife Peggy, who ran the concession stands. "In the summer when my daddy ran the pool, he hired life guards, taught swimming lessons, and drained, cleaned, and refilled it once a week," recalled Karen Stewart Haggard. "It took all night to refill it and I loved to go with him to check on it as he would let me get in the half full pool," Haggard remembered. Barbara Smith recalled the times she helped Mrs. Stewart in the concession stand where you could buy a drink and a snack for less than a quarter.
Among the first lifeguards who Coach Stewart hired were Billy Eberhardt and Donnie Hooks in the summers of 1956, 1957 and 1958. Of one of Hooks' most distinct memories was the 60 feet by 120 feet pool itself. (Now covered by a thinning layer of a black asphalted, abandoned tennis court) "It did not have a filtration system," Hooks said in commenting on why the water had to be replaced every week. "We would open the valves on Wednesday night. On Thursday night when it was refilling, we would throw 10 to 20 chlorine tablets in the pool and then had to check the chlorine levels during the week," Hooks mentioned. "It usually took four or five of us to clean and the helpers got to swim for the next week free. I would call the city water department to let them know that we were going to fill the pool. They would have to turn on additional pumps to refill the big water tank that was behind the gym. We would swim sometime when the pool was refilling. The pipe that came into the pool would shoot water almost across the width of the pool," the former lifeguard fondly reminisced.
Dr. Nelson Carswell was one of the lifeguards on the first day of the pool's operation. Glenn Carswell always thought the lifeguards were cute. In fact, she married one, Dr. Carswell's brother "Tunk." Several years later, Tunk gave Glenn her wedding ring at the pool.
Stephanie Miller remembered the good times at the summer camp held in and around the pool and the Shanty across the creek. "Dublin teens taught us to swim in the old pool and we did crafts and all kinds of fun stuff," Miller recollected. Mary Lewis and Barbara Lewis Barroso looked back to the Frank Lewis method of swimming lessons when their father threw them into the deep end and watched them swim back, reaching out to the protection of the side of the pool. There's even a surviving home movie to prove it.
There were some unpleasant memories too. Barbara Bussell Kawulich, as a younger child, was scared of the big pool. She preferred the "kiddie pool" located a few hundred yards to the east in the heart of Stubbs Park. She was not too happy when she was told that she was too big for the little pool. Barbara also remembered when her infant sister Bonny Bedingfield fell into the deep end. Her mother, Hazel Bussell, couldn't swim. But, when she saw her daughter about to drown, she jumped right in. Coming to the rescue was June Adams and other ladies to help Mrs. Bussell and Bonny out of danger.
Without a doubt, Tricia Fleming had the darkest tan of all the regular pool goers. Lavern Wright remembered lifeguard Gary King, whose father managed the pool, having the darkest tan she ever saw. "He told us he put crisco on his skin," Lavern recalled.
Donna Hall Wilder remembered the large bags of crushed ice for the ice house that her mom, Fonnie Hall, and her dad, Andrew Hall, would pick up before opening the pool during their tenure as managers. "I remember loving the smell of the chlorine they used every night after they closed. At night when the pool was open, bats would be chasing bugs from the lights and diving for water from the pool, A couple of times the bats would get caught in the guys shirts when they were diving," Donna remembered.
Andy Hall went swimming every day. He remembered Tricia Fleming's tan too. So did Lawrence Hall, who spent most of his swimming days in the colder water at Rock Springs near his home. Andy cherished the times that he spent with his fellow teens hanging out at the pool. "There was a concession stand to pay as you entered. You could buy drinks in a cup, candy, cookies and chips. There was a juke box. Some would do the "Peppermint Twist" to the music," Andy said.
Gene Hall Pope, who worked as a life guard during her parents tenure along with Cooter Ballard and Louie Blue, most distinct memories were the cute boys who came to the pool.
As for the best diver, the consensus number one choice was the late George Walker. Andy Hall recalled, "George Walker could do a triple flip off the diving board. The most I could do was a cannon ball, jack knife, or a belly flop." Randy Hester fondly recalled the time that he, George Walker, and a bus load of kids went from the pool to Warner Robins Air Force Base to participate in a swim meet. "I must have been 10 or 11 and didn't even tell my mom I was going. I lived behind Central Elementary School and had walked down to the pool and they asked me to go so I went! She thought I was at the pool all day, but back then you didn't worry about the kids until after dark because everybody looked after everybody."
Roy Hall, no close relation to the Hall family who operated the pool in the 1960s, counts as his most vivid recollection of the pool was going with his grandmother, who frequently took a mess of peas or butterbeans to shell as Roy swam and played in the cool, blue-tinted water. Roy loved the slides and the diving boards, but was terrified of being sucked into any one of the two square drains at the bottom of the deep end. "It was the sound of kids laughing and playing and sight of water splashing all around that made those days we spent in the warm sunshine so wonderful and carefree," Hall recalled.
Then. about 45 years ago, like most good things, it all came to end. Suddenly it was gone, leaving us to find another pool to swim in. Things were never quite the same as they were those fifteen or so summers and they never will be. It was a time of love and hate, a time of war and peace, and a time when we were all true to our pool. It was a time when our music and most people were good. It was a time when both Elvis and the Beatles were still kids, and a time when we walked everywhere or rode our bicycles. Yes, we cruised through the hamburger stands, raced down long, dark roads, and danced until midnight. Even some us went to the library without telling our daddies.
Lately, some of my Facebook friends and I have been thinking that all our fun was all through now. But, we still have our fond memories of the days when the skies were all sunshine, the water was so, so cool and clear, and friends were all around us. It was our party and we had fun, fun, fun, until they took our swimming pool away.