My summer childhood memories were filled with just about anything imaginable.
Like cooling off in a small plastic pool in the backyard on a hot summer day.
It was barely big enough for a couple of elementary school-age children. And when you decided to pack three kids in, you took matters into your own hands, knowing that at any moment the pool would strain the thin seams and rip open the sides.
After a while, my mom gave in with the right amount of begging and invited me and some of the neighborhood kids over and headed out to Lake Geneva and some really cool water.
I never knew what the actual temperature was in the large concrete pool we swam in… but it seems like the older kids had a pretty good idea that it was somewhere in the low 70’s. I don’t know where this number came from. All I know is that when you were soaking wet from mowing the lawn…or mowing the neighbor’s grass…or finished baseball practice early in the summer season—the pool felt sensational.
The history of the pool at Lake Geneva was fascinating in itself.
If I remember correctly, in the late 1920’s a drilling crew hoped to find oil and instead opted for a gush of clear, very cool, clean water.
The size of the fountain was gigantic. I was told it was pumping 3,300 gallons per minute into the 50ft x 100ft concrete pool. The water in the pool ran out of the deep end of the pool and eventually into it Lake Geneva and finally in the river nearby.
The longtime owner of the complex was Mr. Dick Lewis. He oversaw the construction of a dance hall, as the locals called it, built about 100 feet across the lake. Growing up in Geneva, there was nothing quite like dining over the lake and enjoying a freshly made hamburger, an order of fries and a large bottle of soda. The total bill was usually around 50 cents, including taxes!
The most fun you could have at the lake (besides slow dancing with your date) was feeding the fish from the dance hall’s open windows.
Of course, the most exciting part of this fishing-baiting frenzy actually had nothing to do with the fish at all. Instead, it fed the alligators, which slipped silently out from under the ballroom and stalked an unsuspecting bream or clamcracker. The attack was usually quick and painless. Of course, the degree of pain depends on whether you were the “eater” or the “eaten.”
When I was 14, I worked part-time at the concession stand by the lake. I thoroughly enjoyed it and made a whopping 50 cents an hour (I was in High Cotton). The part-time job at the lake gave way to my great love … first radio and then television. Nothing has ever replaced sitting behind a mic and playing great songs…although being a news anchor was hard!