October 1, 2010

Summer days

Today I will once again be participating in The Red Dress Club writing meme. They threw us non-fiction writers a bone this week! The challenge was to write a piece on a childhood memory the photo inspires in you. There were two photos to choose from. I went with this one, entitled "Beat the Heat":

          Growing up, I never had to worry about beating the heat. Oh, it was hot. And humid. I suffered through thirty miserable summers in St. Louis. But I spent my days in a pool as a child. And I rarely ever noticed the heat.
          I started swimming "competitively" when I was four years old. I remember my first meet vividly. I climbed up on the starting block and looked over at my competition. I was nervous. Then there was this loud sound. I watched as the others swimmers dove into the water. And I froze.
          No one had told me about the starting gun. The coach, a jolly man named Wilson, had to come over and push me off the block to get me going. I had a lot of catching up to do, and I swam like mad. All I got from that race was a consolation ribbon. (I think they gave everyone in that age group a ribbon.) But it meant the world to me.
          Despite my rocky start, I continued to swim on a team all through high school. Summer and winter. But summer was best. Man, those were the days. Mom would drop me off for morning practice every week day. Wilson would put us through our paces. He made us work. Hard. But then it was time for play.
          My friends from the team and I basically goofed around at the pool all day long. The kind of carefree childhood days I fear my daughter may never know. It seems kids don't get to just be kids much anymore. But we did. We played Marco Polo. Tried to perfect our backflips. Got in to heated debates about who was cuter, Han Solo or Luke Skywalker. (For the record, I was a Luke girl.) Worked on our tans. We had no worries.
          We stayed at the pool until afternoon practice, which was even more grueling than the morning one. It makes perfect sense that I used to be able to consume an entire pizza myself without gaining a pound. I swam a couple of miles a day in that pool. Of course, that was before puberty.
          Our moms picked us up after the second practice. It was a great deal for them. They enjoyed child free days without having to find a good babysitter. Or camp. It even meant they got to party. Once a week, we had a swim meet against another club. After which there would be a big shindig. Our parents would sip cocktails while we ran around getting our dress up clothes dirty and doing things we knew we shouldn't.
          We all came from different places. Went to different schools. Come fall, most of us would no longer see each other. We were summer friends only. But we made the most of it. Thanks to the wonders of social media, I am now back in touch with all the old pool gang. And we reminisce often about those wonderful summer days.
          While other kids went to camp, summer school or even had jobs, I beat the heat at the pool. Those were good times...

Red Writing Hood

Special note: I am going to be the Saturday Spotlight on Just Another Mom of 2 tomorrow. Please stop by and visit, and show my lovely hostess some blog love!


  1. what great memories.. such different times, weren't they?

  2. We didn't have a local swim club, but my friend's parents put her on one in another town. I always had fun going to her meets.

  3. Ah, I remember hanging out at the pool through endless summer days, pausing only for lunch. Maybe taking a break for a few days now and then, just gorge on books when my blond hair took on green highlights from too much chlorine. Good times. :)

  4. Very sweet memory! And a happy ending - glad you found your friends again online!

  5. Great memories.
    Made me wish they were mine.

  6. Wow, what fabulous memories. I loved the nostalgia of this piece.

  7. I was a swimmer as well. I really hope I can create happy memories such as these for my daughter as she grows up.

  8. Fantastic. I love that I was you, and how I could relate. I did used to spend the day at the pool, doing whatever I wanted, or running around the neighborhood, not a care in the world, returning home when I was ready. I wish the same for my kids too, but I'm lucky to even get her out the door. This sounds like a lot of fun. I think I may have to pursue this more for JB.

  9. What a fantastic memory for you. We had a pool my whole childhood and so did all of my friends. I was in a pool all summer too. I long for those days where we didn't go to camp or need to externally stimulated. It was just us and our friends running around.

  10. I can't believe they didn't tell you about the starting gun! That is too funny!

  11. Ah those summer friends! It wasn't often very hot enough to worry about where I grew up. An eighty degree day was a hot one. And nope, it wasn't Alaska. ;-) But when it did get hot enough to seek out water my cousins and I found a way to a nearby lake!

  12. Can you even imagine dropping your kiddo off today for all-day pool fun? What has changed so much that, that is such a foreign concept? Darn it.

    Sorry about the starting pistol. I can't believe that didin't kill swimming for you for life.

  13. You did a lovely job of recalling a time when children could be children.
    I think about that a lot...we live in such a different world now.
    I hope that I am able to give my kids enough space to be carefree from time to time.

  14. I love that you've reconnected with old friends! How great that you have all those childhood memories. You're right. It's a different time now.

  15. I love this post! It is amazing how different things are now...I think about that a lot! By the way, I just checked out the info you have up on your book and it sounds AMAZING! What a fabulous idea and I can really relate to it (as a SAHM who never thought she would be one). Props to you - it's actually one of my dreams to write a book and I love that you are actually following your dream!

  16. What a great memory!

    Seems times were much simpler and I fear parents have a harder time creating memories like this for their kids.

  17. Coming over from Saturday Spotlight--I really like the idea of "writer revived"--that you are paying attention to the writer in you, the observer. What a powerful image about the starting gun you didn't know about!


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