In which young Kevin does a cannonball instead of pursuing his first "love"
All eyes were on her as she strode confidently across the pool deck.
She was tall and athletic, the stereotypical blonde goddess, exuding grace and poise as she approached the board.
I held my breath and felt my heart beating a mile a minute as she prepared to dive...
The scene was the Honesdale Borough Pool and the year was 1977.
Star Wars had just come out and I was making a daily pilgrimage from Parkway Drive to the pool.
Each morning, I would put on my swimming trunks, Han Solo t-shirt and sneakers. I'd stuff a couple of crumpled dollar bills in my pocket and head for the door.
After shouting goodbye over my shoulder, I'd jump on a banana yellow three-speed (bought at Murray's with my paper route money) and take off.
To most folks, it was just another hot summer afternoon in Northeastern PA. To me, though, it was the day I realized that I'd fallen in love for the very first time...
She sauntered to the edge of the board, raised her arms above her head and executed a picture-perfect dive. The water barely rippled as her body entered.
Even a Russian judge would have given her a perfect 10.
There I stood, enraptured, swaddled in my oversized Boba Fett beach towel, lips slightly blue and quivering.
She swam effortlessly to the ladder and emerged like a goddess from the bosom of the water. Her eyes twinkled mischievously as she glanced my way and gave a playful little wave.
My face immediately reddened and I dropped my gaze, suddenly fascinated by my sunburnt feet.
She giggled and walked back to her friends, all of whom fawned over her and praised her perfect dive.
To me, she was “Venus Anadyomene,” the Greek goddess arising from the sea. And, me? I was just an awkward kid with curly black hair and freckles … a skinny, knobby-kneed goatherd from Hellas.
It would never work, I decided sadly, walking back to the patch of grass I'd staked out poolside.
I sat down heavily, pulled out a rumpled brown paper bag and filled my face with the Swedish Fish I'd bought just a few hours ago at Weniger's Variety Store.
After all, there was a distinct age difference. She had to be at least 13, maybe even 14, and I was 11 … a mature 11, but still only 11.
Wiping the sticky Swedish Fish goo from my mouth with the back of my hand, I looked up from this lovelorn revelry and right into the face of my best friend.
“Wanna play Marco Polo?” he asked breathlessly, eyes wide and a hand extended.
“Sure,” I replied, grabbing his wet paw. “What the hell?”
He pulled me up and I cast aside my Boba Fett towel. We raced toward the pool, executing a ridiculous tandem cannon ball that left us breathless and laughing as we bobbed up and down on the water.
In the Beginning
The Honesdale Borough Pool has been in the news a great deal lately.
Indeed, there was a time not so very long ago that many folks thought it would close due to lack of funds.
However, as has happened so many times in the past, this amazing little community banded together to do the right thing. With the Honesdale Lions Club leading the charge, enough money was raised to make repairs and open the pool for another summer.
Back in the 1930s and 40s, local kids used to swim at “The Deeps,” located not far from where today's pool now stands.
Then, in the early 1950s, talk began of constructing a proper in-ground pool that the entire community could enjoy. By 1953, that dream had been realized and the borough pool opened for business right next to the Stroubridge Elementary School.
Paul Meagher was kind enough to share some old photos from the Lions Club archive which depict the earliest stages of its construction.
Some of those appearing in the pictures are Leon Katz, Vincent Herzog, Edward Robinson, SB Putman and CS Hauser.
Bob Jennings was there, as well, camera in hand, documenting the process.
These men and many other selfless volunteers made it possible for thousands of children to while away countless sun-soaked summer hours
They learned to swim in a safe environment, creating happy memories that would last a lifetime.
It's a tradition that continues to this day.
I dropped by the pool last week as a hardy band of life guards prepared to host this year's Open House.
Michaela Konzman and Tristan Protzman are the co-managers of the pool.
Michaela hails from Pleasant Mount. She graduated from Forest City Regional and now attends Ithaca College. This is her sixth year working at the pool, a job she loves.
“It started off as just a summer job,” she admitted. “But, I kept coming back because of the great people I work with. I love the atmosphere here.”
The borough pool is a busy place during the summer months. The Wayne County YMCA sends its day campers there weekday mornings.
There are also private swimming lessons Monday through Friday (9 a.m. to noon), followed by public swimming hours (Monday to Friday, 1-8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.)
This marked the seventh straight summer that the pool hosted an Open House. And, as has become custom, local businesses donated a huge chunk of the food, drink and supplies.
“We really appreciate all the support we get from the community,” Michaela said. “We couldn't do any of this without their help.”
This year, the borough pool will close a bit early so that much-needed repairs and renovations can begin.
The last day for swimming will be Sunday, August 13.
Once again, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Lions Club, more than $125,000 has already been raised to help restore the pool to pristine condition.
I have such vivid, fond memories of summers spent swimming at the Honesdale Borough Pool. It played a huge role in my childhood.
I swam there, my children and their friends swam there. Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, my grandchildren will swim there, too.
Here's hoping that the this latest fund drive makes possible many more scenes like the one which opens today's column.