Sunday, June 1, 2008

Swimming in Memories

This has been a very quiet week--thank goodness. Many of our classrooms at school are getting new carpeting after 17 years. So the teachers absolutely had to be out of their classrooms by Tuesday. In addition, because of a bond election, everyone will be getting new updated computers. The office was quiet which is such a change from the hustle and bustle and craziness that happens on a regular basis during the school year.

I have been able to come home at a descent hour and relax. Since we had the swimming pool built last spring, one of my favorite ways to relax is to get in the pool in the evenings. The pool is heated and it feels so great to get in and relax. There are some jets where you can sit and relax. Because the spring was so hectic, I haven't gone in as much as I did last spring and fall.

I have always loved to swim. I remember going everyday to the 15th Street Pool in Douglas and spending the afternoon. This was usually with cousins who spent the summer in Douglas. We could walk to the pool with none of the fears that are part of our society today. No one that I can remember in Douglas had a "real" pool at their house. Two friends had above ground pools and I remember loving to go their houses to swim.

One day when I was about eleven or twelve, we went to the house of a family who were friends, but not ones that we spent a lot of time with. They had a small pool built in their backyard. It was about two feet below ground and two feet above ground. I remember Judy and I telling our uncle Johnny about it and how great it
would be to have something like that. Johnny was my mom's oldest brother. He lived with us and worked shift work at the Phelps Dodge Smelter. He had come back to Douglas because of divorce and a drinking problem. He became very active in A.A. and I never saw him take a drink. I remember all of the calls that he would get during the holidays from other A.A. members who needed his support. I admired him very much for his involvement in this organization and his will power.

One of the things that he did when he wasn't working was to keep busy fixing things around the house, building things, etc. He could fix anything! Whenever he went on vacation to visit family, they always had jobs for him so that he would stay around for awhile and visit.
I think this was his way of staying away from the temptation of drinking. And it worked for him!!

So Johnny went up and saw the pool. He came home and drew it up. He had a man from Agua Prieta who always helped him with large projects. This was way before anyone was worried about green cards, illegal immigrants, work visas, and such.

So Johnny and Francisco (I can't remember his name) went to work digging, putting in a drain to the sewer system, and laying blocks. They covered the blocks with cement and had the floor at an angle so that the water could drain out. He painted it with a blue swimming pool paint. He even made a small ladder to get in and out of the pool. It was a labor of love as he would do anything for Judy and I!!

Even though I was older, I still loved having friends over and getting wet in the pool. Judy was at a great age and enjoyed it immensely through the years. We had to fill it with the hose and every few days, depending on the use, drain it. To clean it, we used laundry detergent and a broom and hose and then refilled it. We always added a couple of cups of Clorox.
When my kids were little, we could put as much or as little water in that pool so that they could have fun. When they were babies, we could just put enough water for them to have fun. As they got older, we filled the pool. At its deepest, it was probably little more than three feet deep. They had fun every single day we were in Douglas for the summer with that pool!!

It was a great way to cool off and it was also a place for friends to come to swim. Like I said, most people in Douglas during my childhood and my kids' childhood didn't have pools. But we did!! Johnny would have been thrilled to know that the pool he built has been used for the past many years--I am thinking it is getting close to 50 years. It is still ready in the backyard of 858 for any kids who might come to Douglas. I know Cameron enjoyed it when he was so much younger and smaller. He still likes to get in it when we go to Douglas.

I know Johnny would be so happy and so proud of my house and the pool we had put in.
He would have loved to have been a part of helping me with all of the remodeling. I know I
have said in previous posts how fortunate I was to have had three mothers. My uncle Johnny had a significant impact in my life in many ways. I am very grateful to have had his unconditional love and his incredible support. He was so thrilled and proud when I went to ASU. He even bought me a car because he didn't want me driving back and forth to Douglas with just anyone. He died at the start of my junior year in August of 1969. I thank him for being such a wonderful influence in my life!!! I have missed him these many years and know that he is still out there looking out for all of us!!!!! Every time I get into our pool, I think of my Uncle Johnny.

4 remarks:

velvet brick said...

How sweet is this recollection of the pool in Douglas! I remember seeing it there in the back yard when I was down there, but I never knew the story! I love it! Yes, your Uncle Johnny would be so very proud of you, your home and your deep family values. What a wonderful tribute..thank you for sharing it with us!
: )

Kerri said...

I remember EVERY time we got into town each summer, the very first thing we would do was go out back and clean out the pool and fill it up. It always seemed to take forever to fill, but when it did - oh man! The fun we had!! I remember the summer when Patrick found that he could jump off of the roof next door into the pool. Looking at it now, I wonder how in heck he did that without everyone in the house (adults, I mean) freaking out on him! I would if it were Cameron! He loves the pool, and many of my favorite memories are in that pool. We'll be filling it up this summer and using it.


Susie of Arabia said...

You have such a wonderful family. What great memories of that pool and your Uncle Johnnie! Nice post, Cheela.

Anonymous said...

Sheila, I loved seeing the picture of my grandpa and reading how it came about that he built the pool in the backyard. I never knew this story. Thanks for writing them down.

I also enjoy seeing the pictures of all the family. Thanks for posting these for us to enjoy.

Deb Lovett