Tag Archives: Banditry

Memoir – Butt-Prints, Banditry, and the Sling-Shot: Summers at the Pool

These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed as some of the people involved now live respectable lives and I would hate to sully their reputations. At times I will take liberties as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy.

Butt-Prints, Banditry, and the Sling-Shot: Summers at the Pool

The three of us, Me, Cisco, and Hymie (though in our early days we referred to ourselves as Eggbert, Elmo, and Floyd. No, I really cannot explain why) spent three glorious summers (’77,78, and ’79) at the public pool in Boulder Hill, The Civic Center. The Civic Center itself was a building with a few meeting rooms and a couple of larger rooms used for events. Attached to it was a rather large pool, with shower/changing/locker rooms and a concession stand. All this sat on 4 or 5 acres a wooded land adjacent to the train tracks, a gravel pit, and the rest of Boulder Hill. The pool itself had 4 different parts – a kiddie pool, the main pool that went from 2’6” to 5”, the lap pool (all 5”) and the deep end. Two diving boards, High and low (a one meter and a three meter I think, but I’m not sure). The adults, mainly moms with kids, spent their time on one side of the pool and the unsupervised kids spent their time on the other. The pool opened up around 1pm each day for public use, with swimming lessons, swim team, and adult use before that. We were there each day, when they opened and we left each day when they closed at 5. It was quite the life.

Towel Bandits – There was a 15 minute break every hour where all of the kids had to get out of the pool and the adults could use the pool unfettered by the kids. While the pool sat empty, save one retiree or so, the kids would skitter over to the concession stand and get a drink, an icee, chips or some delicious Hostess treat. This always presented a problem for us. We could use a drink, but were chronically short of cash. One day, walking to the stand, one of use accidentally kicked a towel. Money, little coins, tinkled across the cement deck. We stopped in our tracks, and a little light bulb lit above each of our heads. Once the break was over and all the kids were back in the pool, we started our scheme. We would scope out the other swimmers as they sat on the side, noting which ones would roll something up in their towels. Once they left their towels to get back in the pool, one would walk over and accidently nudge the rolled up bundle with his foot. The second would scope it out and nudge it a bit more if it looked promising. The third would then swoop in and grab any coins, being careful never to take them all. In this way we managed to pay for a couple of snacks each week when our funds were running low.

Butt Prints – one of my most vivid memories from the pool era. On the adult side there were always a small tribe of toddlers and pre-schoolers running around, in and out of the kiddie pool. One day when we did a lap walking around the pool, I noticed on little kid get out of the water and rush over to his mom. He sat down on the cement, then picked up his butt and crab walked a step, then put his butt back down. He made a butt print trail back to the pool. At the pool he yelled for his mom to look at his art. When he did, he noticed that the first couple of prints were starting to dry up. He jumped back into the water, then rushed out to re-do his early prints. This process kept the kid busy for nearly 45 minutes. I’m sure there are some wise things to say about the nature or man’s works in the world, or on the temporal aspect of art, or maybe on the cognitive abilities of a child, but I’m don’t know what they are.

Lifeguards – lets put this all into context. When we were at the pool, we were 12-14 years old. The lifeguards were 16-20. Young, fit, and wearing very little (this was the height of the Speedo after all). We spend a lot of time swimming, diving, and playing around, but we spent easily as much time gawking. I vividly recall the one year when they issued the very thin, light red suits to the lifeguards. It probably seemed like a good idea to use the same suit as the swimming team, seeing as most of the lifeguards were on the team. The unintended effect was that the thinness of the suits and the color when wet combined to leave very little to the imagination. For the curious 14 yrs old boy I was, I want to thank the person who made that decision. As a side note, we didn’t gawk at the moms. When you’re 14, that’s just weird.
One of the cardinal rules at the pool was that you didn’t splash the lifeguards. They could not get wet, they were inviolate to the water (a little ironic actually, they were lifeguards after all). They sat on chairs perched high about the pool, or they patrolled around the edges watching for violations. On the diving boards, one of the challenges was to see if you could jump off of the high board and do some big splash maneuver (like a can opener, or a coffin. Not a cannonball, they never worked) can get the guard on the chair wet. If you did, you got to sit in a kind of time out under the chair for a while. Part punishment, part achievement. The difficulty was that we were all small, 80 to 120 lbs, lacking the sufficient mass to cause a lot of splash. If you leaned too far you ran the risk of a belly or back flop – lots of pain when done from a high dive.

The Sling-Shot – the lap pool was 5’ deep and the only part of the pool where you could dive in besides the deep end. This is where we hung out. We would stand on the side talking, or jump in to practice our splash moves; the aforementioned Can Opener, Coffin, Canonballs, and the Jacknives, Eagle and Flop. It was all very technical. We would also have contest to see how far we could jump or dive off of the side. It was during one of these contests that the Sling-Shot was invented. A guy who I will call Rich was with us that day. He was a year older, and a family friend of Hymies. We were all taking turns doing the jump. When it was Rich’s turn, he bent to make his launch. Hymie was standing next to him. When Rich bent, Hymie noticed that the top strap of his jock poked out of his suit. The little imp that lived in Hymie’s brain gave his conscience a kick, and Hymie reached out and grabbed the strap just as Rich jumped. I can still see the strap, stretching against the force of Rich’s jump. Getting longer and longer as Rich’s flight slowed. Then, just at Rich stopped in mid-air, and the strap reached it’s maximum tension, Hymie released it. Rich’s face was turned to us, expressing the confusion over his lack of movement and his distress at the firm grip on his netherbits, The strap snapped back with a loud slap, and Rich, very Wiley Coyote-like, dropped flat onto the water, like 100lbs of ground beef hitting a tile floor. Rich surfaced, a little blue in the face and red in the belly, swearing at Hymie. The Sling-Shot was never again performed in public.