… Then there was the time my little brother realized every kid’s summer nightmare when he lost his trunks in the public swimming pool.
That’s the start to a favorite family story that’s been nearly forgotten for decades, one I’m sure my brother Jay would probably prefer was left as nearly forgotten. Lucky for the rest of us, his older bro has access to a computer, newsprint and a huge barrel of ink.
Going through some Boomerang file photos sparked one of those flash-of-memory moments. Suddenly, I was 9 again, it was summertime and we were at Larson Pool in Northglenn, Colorado.
Just about any hometown worth its salt has a City Pool, Larson Pool or whatever it’s called. Universally, it’s a home away from home for area children after school lets out.
In our case, Jay, my younger sister and my best friends from across the street — Kevin and Kelly — would walk a mile to the pool every day (except Sundays, when we had to go to church instead). We opened the place, swam all day and closed it. Sometimes we’d remember to use the sunscreen mom always sent with us, sometimes not. Sometimes we’d come home without towels and other items we left with in the morning.
The deal was, if we did our daily and weekly chores without too much trouble, Mom and Dad would give us the money for the pool. If not, we couldn’t leave until they were done, then had to use our own allowance money (and later paper route earnings).
A dollar went a lot farther in those days. For a buck, we could pay all-day admission (50 cents), buy a candy bar during break time (25 cents) and have a quarter left over. Usually, the quarter found its way to the bottom of the pool as we tossed it in, then dove in to see who could retrieve it first. More often than not, the quarter would eventually be lost and we’d go home without the extra two bits.
That brings me to Jay and the brotherhood of his traveling trunks.
Kicking off the summer after third grade I was less than excited. That’s because I was told that I was old enough for Jay to tag along with us to the pool every day. The last thing I wanted was this little puppy following me around everywhere. In hindsight, I now can understand that my frustration with having a tagalong was probably nothing compared to Mom’s relief.
About a week into the summer we were getting into a groove. The other kids learned not to dunk or pick on Jay too much or his big brother would respond.
It was during one of those games of quarter diving that Jay went under as just another kid in the pool and came up an unwilling nudist freaking out so badly I thought he was drowning.
I got to him about 15 seconds before the lifeguard and probably didn’t do much to diffuse the situation by laughing. Of course, then came the teasing on the way home.
Then the teasing throughout the rest of the summer.
Jay was so determined that he would never lose his trunks again that he would often tie them on so tightly and with such elaborate knots that Mom had to cut more than one pair off him in the weeks that followed.
That’s also how he earned a nickname around the neighborhood — Jaybird, as in naked as a …
Of course, parents today could never get away with allowing their kids to walk a mile alone and leave them unsupervised at the pool all day. Which is both understandable and too bad. There’s nothing like starting home soaking wet, waging a snapping towel war all the way home and arriving dry and overheated.
Just in time to run through the sprinklers and start a water fight.
Oh, that reminds me …
… then there was the time my 90-something-year-old great-grandfather hid a hose under the dining room table and sprayed everyone down during Sunday dinner.