Monday, December 3

Public Pool

Surf’s up, sprinklers rule ~

‘cause hardly anyone we know

owns a pool.

Hey . . .

We oughta go to Reseda Park!

Fly over the footbridge

pay our ten cents

stuff our zorries into green net bags

and our hair into bathing caps

then swim like maniacs

in a glorious, blue expanse.

* Summer in San Fernando Valley found most families still positioning ice trays in front of a fan placed in a deep window sill to keep cool at night. I knew less than one hand full of people who had central air - and you could only sit panting in front of the living room window air-conditioner for so long before your nose began to run. We had to utilize other ways to cool off.

A sprinkler on the front lawn was fine most of the time, and when 'Water Wiggle' came out after the 'Slip 'n Slide' (Wham-O Toys 1961-2), that was even better! Until mom complained about the mud bog we left in the yard. Banished from native turf, we would collect our gear and a dime each (the cost of admission) and head out for some real summer fun: the public pool.

We launched from Jellico Ave. on our bikes – picking up friends along the way; sort of a 2-wheeler convoy – full speed over to Reseda Park. An arching foot bridge was the last leg of the journey and we virtually sailed over with a holler of joy! The dumb boys were always ready so fast for that first victory leap into the water; they didn’t have to endure the getting ready ritual girls faced. Absolutely no female was allowed to swim without first volunteering to tear her own hair out by the roots in a bloody struggle to get the dreaded bathing cap on. We were told it was to protect the filter from our nasty long hair, but I'm so sure! Why didn't we form a swimmer's advocacy group or something? But - we were an orderly society; the rule was obeyed without so much as a hairy hint of revolt.

I think calling rubber flip-flop sandals ‘zorries’ must have been a uniquely Southern California thing. Considering a back yard pool a novelty in the Valley was definitely a 60’s thing. Thank goodness rubbery, pinching, mandatory swim caps is one painful, sexist tradition that has gone the way of anything costing only ten cents for the privilege.

~ excerpt from 'Station Wagon Wars', growing up in the 60's by CTanner

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