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Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Take Me Back - Summer 1953

By Marcy Belson

As the days grow warmer, my memories rise to the surface once again.

I'm 15 years old in a 100 percent cotton swim suit with shirring up the front and a cloth string that tied around the neck. An old towel is around my shoulders and I'm wearing leather sandals. This is 1953, and there are no flip flop rubber sandals, no latex bathing suits, no beach towels.

You had to know where to go. My father was a land leveler and had a business of tractors, dozers and on the side, he had a business making concreting ditches for the farmers, which saved the precious water.

My first boyfriend, Robert, was from a farming family; his father raised cotton. Pima cotton, field after field.

So, we knew where to go. We knew the country dirt roads that led to the place where another farmer had concreted his ditches and had his workers dig out a large area under a cotton wood tree.

The "pool", fed by the concrete ditch, was perhaps six feet across and 10 feet long before the water was diverted back into the ditch running along the cotton field.

It was rough concrete, barely finished, done by hand. But it was cool water, clean enough to swim in without worry and shaded by the tree.

I am there again, in a Ford pickup with three other teenagers, a bench seat in the pickup and we are all thin enough to sit side by side. We are bouncing down that dirt road, leaving a cloud of dirt and silt in the air behind us, laughing and happy to be going swimming. If you could call it that.

I didn't know how to swim and it was only waist deep so there was no diving or high jinx. I think we spent an hour or so there and headed back to town, dripping water and ready to spend an evening at the local A&W drive in, or maybe see a movie with John Wayne at the Paramount Theater.

Once in a while, we would hear about a beer party out in the desert. I wasn't much of a drinker but I could smoke with the best of them, thanks to a friend who introduced me to cigarettes in the alley.

Much later in life, we had our own swimming pool in the backyard. My children swam because they had lessons. They swam in a pool with water that had added chemicals. They had swim suits that didn't bag in the fanny as they got out of the pool. They had chaise loungers and nice beach towels and a brick patio – no dirt to contend with, no trip down a dusty road. No anticipation.

I think I had the best of it.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Enjoyed your story, and I think you had the best of it too. I'd forgotten the days when four of us could fit side by side in a pickup.

I love this story, Marcy! The details are giving a vivid structure and I have a feeling I am one of those teenagers squeezed at the back of the pickup. We want to the summer vacations on Black sea in our old car and lived in wooden houses of a summer camp for the employees of the university my parents worked at. It was a great time. And more than a half day car ride provided a lot of time for happy anticipation. I fell in love for the first time at this provisory resort.

I meant "picture" and not "structure" in the second sentence. :)

Yes, you did. You made me remember the summer I was in Michigan visiting a relative and I got to go swimming in a gravel pit. Ice cold and hard on the feet....LOL

Takes me back to swimming in the MN lakes. Clear and cold. Nowadays, too many kids won't even go in.

We hitched rides (a no-no now) or rode bikes four or five miles to swim in lakes with good beaches in northern Wisconsin. You brought back fond memories with your excellent story. Thanks.

What a well done remembrance; it covered just about everything we kids did in the "olden" days, pickups with bench seats, baggy suits at swimmin' holes, first boyfriends and the good-old A & W. Even Chesterfields and the allergic reaction?

It didn't take much to make us happy!

Well you have all given me such a quick trip back to the 50s...Chesterfields, pickup trucks, water holes..I sigh for the good old days...

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