My story begins before I even have memories of New Albany. I would guess that my mother took me to the pool, on 605, when I was a toddler. I know that she took me to the Y at about six months of age and did one of those “sink or swim” things, tossing me in, lovingly!
I can remember, spending every waking second, of every summer, at the pool from probably 4th grade until I was 18 or so. I remember days where my mother was coating my nose with Desitin to protect it from the sun, to sitting down over the hill smoking with the girls from Licking Heights. That’s when I was 12.
To this day, I hear songs on the radio that take me back to that pool, I can smell the chlorine, see the sun reflecting off the water and I’m right back there again. There is no other smell, of any other pool, that I have smelled, EVER, that smelled like the pool in (old) New Albany. It was the BEST.
Hanging out with my friends day after day, perfecting our tans, keeping the concession stand in business buying pretzel rods (with a line of mustard) for $.05, Boston Baked Beans for $.25 and the best snack was the frozen Snickers bar, I think that was $.50
Since my mom still had to work at the elementary for a couple weeks after school was out, I was tasked with going in with her to help with the handbooks. That entailed running the Xerox machine, collating and stapling together those handbooks that were passed out at the beginning of the next school year. Doing this was how I earned my pool ticket every year. Well worth it, in my opinion.
My day started out, after waking up, spending a couple hours on the phone each morning with Staci Hatfield. We would talk while watching TV. When I got off the phone with her, I would call Sheri and make sure she was able to go to the pool. I did what chores I was supposed to do and then when my mom would have her lunch break, she would run home, pick me up and drop me off at the pool. It opened at 11 and closed at 9 during the week, maybe, I’m not 100% sure I’m remembering that right. Anyway, either my mom would take Sheri and I, or her mom would take us once she got home from her morning errands. Sheri Miller, Amy Hathaway and I lived at the pool, it seemed. On days when it would rain, there was nothing else to do as we just loved that pool so much. There was a time or two when Sheri and I would ride our bikes, all the way from Sleepy Hollow, down 62, right on 161 and then right onto 605, meeting Amy, Staci and just about everyone else there. Everyone went to the pool. On days we had softball games, we were allowed to go to the pool but could only stay until 2. On days we just had practice, coaches asked us to get out of the pool by 3. I almost always stretched it to 4 though because my mom would pick me up about 4 when she got off work. Once she was done for the summer, I would always beg to stay much later. I didn’t care if I missed dinner. The pool was that important.
I’ll never ever forget that place. Playing tag, with the ladders for bases, going down the slide, diving off the low board, being brave enough to go off the high dive. Standing on my tippy toes in the 6 foot, thinking I was so cool. Trying to swim from the shallow end to the deep end, all in one breath. When the lifeguards would blow the whistle for break, it was the thing to do to swim past all the other ladders and go under the rope and get out in the 2 foot, just to spend more time in the water.
The older I got, things stayed exactly as they were. Which is weird because usually things change, the older you get. The fun though, stayed the same. Even when the lifeguards changed, they added a playground, prices went up at the concession stand. It didn’t matter, it was the pool. It was the pool in New Albany. New Albany was the best place to grow up. It had the best people, the best times, the best friends. It was home.
For as long as I live, I will always remember how awesome it was to grow up in New Albany. To go to the pool. To live on Sleepy Hollow Drive. To have best friends like Sheri Miller and Amy Hathaway.