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Old Habits Die Hard
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
Soon, if they havenít done it already, the daily newspapers will publish their annual articles about how the cityís public pools did this summer. I havenít given any of my money to Fort Wayne public pools in years, because Iíve found a better deal.
Jury Pool in New Haven is the best public pool Iíve been to. Period. My mother took me there as a child, and even then I was impressed with the way the pool was run. The pool itself is huge, with a roped-off diving area with two boards; a large swimming area, and a shallow end. Thereís a kiddie pool with a fountain. Lounge chairs are available, and thereís a grassy area to lay your towel if you werenít able to snag a chair and donít want to lie down on hot, unyielding concrete. Thereís a small, twisty slide. Four lifeguards are on duty. And thereís a mandatory rest period every hour. Everyone under the age of 18 has to get out of the pool and sit down. For 15 minutes, adults 18 and older get to swim. This is the time I do my laps, and I get some nasty looks from people who park themselves in my lane. After some observation, Iíve noticed Iím the only adult who actually swims during this time. The others are standing around, yakking, with the occasional couple offering piggyback rides to each other. I swim my laps, thoughtfully moving out of the way of some immobile ďswimmerĒ who is just standing there. I usually get tired out and by the time rest period is over, I am ready to go back to my towel and read the book I brought along. Occasionally I jump back into the pool, which is full of kids, cool off and go back to my book until the next rest period, where the pool becomes almost mine again. The pool usually opens around 12:30 p.m. or 1, closes at 5, reopens at 6, and closes at 8 to accommodate those of us who work day jobs.
And how much does this pristine facility charge to get in? One measly dollar.
So I was a bit shocked my first visit to Northside Pool, the only city pool closest to my house. As I recall it was $3 to swim in a pool that, to my eyes, was tiny compared with Jury Pool. Iíve been to Mc Millen, and passed by Swinney, which didnít seem worth the bother. Two out of the three city pools take the same amount of time for me to drive to as Jury Pool does, and to me the amenities are well worth it.
I canít quite understand why the city of Fort Wayne doesnít have a facility like this. I realize there are private swim clubs in town, but Jury Pool is a public pool serving a relatively small town. Fort Wayneís population numbers over 200,000, yet the city pools seem small. Years ago, I remember driving a family friend and my niece and nephew to Northside Pool one day because they really wanted to go there. Once we got there, the pool had reached its capacity because it was an incredibly hot day. We ended up going to Jury Pool anyway, which, because it can accommodate 490 swimmers, was still open because it wasnít full.
So old habits die hard. Thereís a city pool a couple miles away from me, but I always journey out to New Haven. When I was a child, the drive out there seemed to take forever. Now, I can get out there in less than a half hour, unless I have to wait for a train. When youíre a kid, everything seems big, but as an adult, things donít seem so large. Not so with Jury Pool. Little has changed since my mom first led me through the door into the changing room, then out onto the upper deck, where only a few feet away the pool loomed like some huge, perfect summer oasis. The lifeguards still perch in their chairs, the concrete around the pool is still hot as ever, and the voice over the P.A. still announces, ďthe time is now 2:50. Please clear the pool for rest period. Everyone under the age of 18 must be seated at least six feet away from the pool. Rest period will not begin until everyone is seated. Adults 18 and older may swim at this time.Ē And, depending on my mood, I either jump in or walk down the steps into the pool and swim my laps. Sometimes I just lie on my back, looking at the sky which appears to be the same color as the water I float in. When Iím ready to go home, I emerge more relaxed then when I first arrived. Jury Pool is one of the best things about summer. So be sure to tell them who sent ya.