Sunday 24 Jul 2016

Backyard Pools
AJ Robinson

Swimming pools are common these days, especially when you live in Florida. Back when I was growing up in Arlington, Massachusetts, in the late 1960s and early 1970s that was not the case at all. Pools were a rare backyard item. I well remember when my friend Phillip, who lived right across the street, got an above ground pool.

It was a major deal! Every kid in the neighbourhood heard about it. As for my family, we had one of those simple snap together above ground types that you put up, filled with water, and then took down when the weather turned cold. It didn’t even have a filter or water circulating system. No, we got out the garden hose, filled the pool up and that was it. My Dad was strict about no “accidents” in the pool. It also had no heater, which meant the water pretty much was as warm or cold as the surrounding air. Here’s the thing: I never really made use of it.


I had a pool of my own, a little metal bucket.

Yeah, not the sort of pool most people think of. For me, a little toddler, out playing in the back yard, with my brothers, it was perfect. For one thing, it was just the right size for me. I could sit in it and no one had to worry about my head slipping under. I and I alone could fit in it, so there was no concern about someone playing too rough with me. My brothers could swim and splash around in the main pool, which they did to no end. Hey, they were teenagers, roughhousing was practically genetic at their ages! As for me, I could sit, splash and enjoy the occasional bucket of water poured over my head.


For some reason, I really loved that.

I, of course, have no memories of these events. No, they took place during my toddler years and my only record of those days is photographs, somehow preserved. Just a few grainy black and white shots; I’m happy to have even them. After all, when you’re the fifth of five boys, Mom and Dad don’t exactly take many pictures or home movies of you.

Of course, time and tide wait for no one, and I grew. That meant I eventually outgrew my little personal pool. That was okay, as each summer, before we left for Martha’s Vineyard, we’d set up our big pool and I would get a chance to cool off each day after school. Then, in the fall, after Labour Day, it would still be up. While the weather was cooling off, the days were still warm enough to make use of that simple pool. Just being able to cool down after a long day at school was so great.


We tucked our pool away in the garage.

Then, when Phillip’s parents got their pool, ours somewhat paled in comparison. We tucked our pool away in the garage and forgot about it. Of course, it was old by that time and I’d say we’d gotten our fun out of it. As for mu pool, it went back down cellar. My dad used it to haul clams and scallops to the occasional clambake, but other than that it really didn’t get much use.

Oh well, at least it served its purpose. I got a whole lot of fun out of that simple little “pool,” even if I don’t remember it.

 

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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