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Monday, 15 September 2008

Taking a Dip in the Hotel Pool

By Celia Jones

There was a 12-year age gap between me and my older sister, who used to take care of me while my mother was working. As a treat one hot summer’s day, my older sister Rickie took me along with her friends to the hotel in the Catskills where my mother worked as a chambermaid.

My sister’s teenage friends objected her to taking me everywhere she went, but she didn’t pay any attention to them. And, of course, she thought I could do no wrong. And, I of course, worshipped her.

While her friends went off to find some boys, Rickie and I went to see my mother. We didn’t know exactly where my mother was working, so we went to the head housekeeper’s office. My mother had told us stories about the head housekeeper and referred to her, among other things, as a Hitler, a “Witch” who kept all the maids intimidated and in a state of high tension.

Rickie told me to keep out of sight in the hallway, but I feared for my sister entering this creature’s lair. I had to peek at this menacing creature and put my head around the corner to quickly have a look at her, but I wasn’t quick enough. She saw me and yelled out, “Who is that little girl and what is she doing here?”

I don’t think I ever moved my little legs so fast; I didn’t stop running until I was at the end of the corridor and was sure the witch wasn’t chasing me. I nearly crashed into a maid’s trolley, my mother’s trolley.

I’d never seen her in her white uniform and shoes. She looked red-faced and tired and smelled of soap and detergent. I ran to hug her, but she was rather tense and worried about the Witch catching us on her floor and told us we’d better leave. We didn’t belong there; we were not guests.

My sister wanted to join her friends to meet some boys who worked at the hotel. She found a nice place for me by the hotel pool and said, “You can put your feet in, but that’s all. Don’t go all the way in.”

I was awestruck by the pool which was the largest I’d ever seen. The water was crystal clear and in the middle of the huge kidney-shaped pool was a statue that spouted water. There were lots of people slapping on coconut oil and frolicking in the water as it was a hot day, and I felt very envious just sitting there watching these “privileged persons” having all the fun when I could just put my feet in.

A little girl floated by me on her seahorse that I had always wanted instead of the black inner tube my father used to get from the service station. She asked me why I didn’t come into the pool and play with her. I thought it wouldn’t hurt if I stood on the first step where the water came up to my knees.

It felt so cool and wonderful, I had to try the next step, where the water came up to my stomach. Well, my shorts were already wet, and with the girl’s encouragement, I found myself totally immersed. It was a guilty pleasure as I felt as if I’d broken some kind of law; I was not a hotel guest after all.

My shirt ballooned out as I splashed around, keeping an eye out for the Hitler Witch. When I saw my sister and her friends walking back, I became a bit nervous as I heard one of her friends say: “Look at that brat, she’s all wet. I told you not to take her.”

My sister just laughed, said with some irritation, “I don’t have a change of clothes for you, Celia; we’ll have to take you on the bus home in those wet clothes.” I was a little embarrassed going onto the bus in sodden clothes, but that swim was definitely worth it.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Just this weekend I witnessed a small child getting into a reflecting pool at the mall, while her dad was on his cell phone. She was drenched from neck to toes. I don't think she had as much fun as you did, since she was immediately yanked out by her dad!


Hi Celia,

Great story! It seems unfortunate at the time that some kids have a lot of privileges and some don't.

But, you know what? As time goes by the ones who don't have much will work hard and get all the things they never had as children. THEN, they appreciate everything they have worked for and they enjoy their possessions and activities much more than those who have always had access to the best things in life.

Great story
What fun!—--Good for you!

Naughty but nice. I think that's the right phrase. Loved this tale. It called to the brat in me.

I guess I was offline when this piece appeared, loved every word..identify with all 3 of you in story...good for you for jumping right in pool..it is those moments that are memories, not the passing up of such pleasures...it was a scene in the movies, old times, great writing...

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