In the summer of the 1950s and 1960s all of my friends could be found at the city pool on North Main Street. It was located on the west side of the street not far from Seward’s Restaurant.
North Main Street, a.k.a. Route 7 North, was a two lane road in those days. We were able to ride our bicycles from Howard Avenue to the pool, a distance of almost two miles each way. Once we reached the pool there was someone who stopped traffic to let us cross the road.
Most of my friends took swimming lessons in the morning and returned to the pool in the afternoon just to have fun with their friends. Swimming lessons were free and there was no admission fee in the morning.
The pool itself had a long history. It opened in 1929 and was used until the 1970s. It was a circular brick structure that you entered on the bottom level. You picked up a wire basket for your clothes and were given a numbered tag on a stretchy wrist band. The girls headed to the left and the boys to the right. When you were done swimming you handed in the tag and got the basket back so you could change out of your bathing suit to head home.
On both the boys’ and girls’ side there were stairs that brought you to the top level to swim. Just before you reached the stairs there was a small shallow pool of water that was built into the concrete flooring. It contained ingredients to prevent athlete’s foot. Of course, you were supposed to walk through it. Most of us skirted the edges to avoid the cold and uninviting water. I paid the price for doing that when I got athlete’s foot and was banned from the pool for over a week. I had daily applications of Phisohex to treat the problem. I made sure to step in that little pool once I was allowed back in!
Most of us begged for an evening swim at the pool. You would think we had enough of the pool by then, but apparently not! We felt quite grown up when we were old enough for that privilege. It didn’t take us long to wrap ourselves in a towel when we left the water. It was much cooler at night without the sun! Of course, the pool wasn’t heated so even on a 90 degree day there were lots of blue lips and shivering.
A true sign of bravery was jumping off the “tower.” It was a very high board and since I hate heights, I never gave it a try. There was a lower diving board next to the tower but I wanted no part of that either. However, the long slide into about three feet of water was “right up my alley.”
The annual water carnival at the pool was the highlight of the summer. It consisted of such things as clown acts, synchronized swimming and water ballet. There were also swimming and diving contests…a fun day for everyone!
We rarely headed for home without stopping at the concession stand. It was located in a small building at the top of the driveway. The most popular treat among my friends was a frozen Charleston Chew bar. We “worked on it” most of the way home as it took that long before you could actually bite into it.
For a few years in the early 70s both the North Main Street pool and the newly constructed White’s Pool at the foot on Avenue B were open. Eventually the North Main pool was closed due to its deteriorating condition. Unfortunately, history will repeat itself in Rutland this summer with the closing of White’s pool for the same reason.
It’s sad to think that there will be no city pool memories to be made by children this summer. Hopefully, that opportunity will arise again soon. It will be a fun part of their “looking back” in later years.