Potluck at the Pool

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 11.24.16 AMAs a kid, I lived at the pool in the summer. Morning swim team practice. Afternoon games of sharks and minnows in the deep end. Break time reading and swapping Nancy Drew Mysteries. Sunday morning donuts which was also the one time they allowed rafts in the pool. Games on the 4th of July. The Greased-watermelon challenge was fun to watch but seemed too hard to ever win. The penny dive was more my speed. But the very best summertime activity of all at the pool was Saturday Evening Potlucks.

As I climb out of the pool after hearing the lifeguards blow their whistle for the 6pm break, I notice the long line of rectangular tables stretching from one end of the deck to the other. Already a line was forming and I see my dad in it toward the front. “Yes,” I thought to myself. I hurry to grab my towel, dry off and join him to help hold our place in line.

As I walk, I notice Mrs. Francis place one lasagna casserole on the table, followed by her oldest, Amy, placing the second casserole on the table and her next oldest, Tom adding a jello mold and her next oldest, John adding a bag of rolls to the table. The remaining 4 – Ray, Anne, Meg and Catherine followed in line like little ducklings. All the girls are dressed in matching sundresses. I look and marvel. How did the Francis do it? All 7 kids helping. All 7 dressed and ready for Saturday dinner. My family was so different. Dad and me at the pool all day. Mom helping to orchestra. Me with a towel wrapped around my still dripping swimsuit. I had no idea what being in that family was like but I am sure glad Mrs. Francis and her kids are here with not one, but 2 casseroles of lasagna. It’s my favorite.

All along the long table sit more platters holding food. I see my mom’s homemade fried chicken and potato salad, next to 2 buckets of chicken made by the Colonel. I’m definitely not choosing from a bucket when I can eat my mom’s, I thought. And so many salads – 3-bean, pasta, tuna with noodles. And because it is summer, lots of fresh vegetables – sliced tomatoes from pool members’ gardens. Corn on the cob right off the grill.

Suddenly, I notice the long table seems to be filled. I turned around and now see the line extends back for what seems like a mile. I smile at my dad who smartly got our family a spot toward the front. After the lifeguards are kindly invited to go first, the line begins to move. I get ready to take as much food as I want. My dad’s motto is “Take all you want but eat what you take!” So I grab a chicken leg made by my mom, a scoop from the jello mold. a spoonful of tuna-macaroni salad, and a 4 inch by 4 inch cube of Mrs. Francis’ lasagna. YUM!

Summers growing up for me meant hours swimming at the pool. Endless hours. But the best hour of all was the 6pm Saturday Potluck hour. A meal shared by a community of pool-goers is the best!


Inspired by Memory Chain Post

I read the 6/25/18 Two Writing Teacher’s post by Stacey and then tried out her Generating Writing idea.

I picked an object: my swimming google and my Memory Chain ended up looking like this:


Then I picked “practicing for All Stars – pool had different feel” and I wrote this story:

All Star Practice

“Have a good swim practice,” I heard my mom say as I climbed out of the car.

“Thanks,” I replied and then headed into the pool area. Last week at this time there were kids everywhere. The 8 and unders were in lanes 1 and 2 with their coach calling out directions. The 9 and 10s were in the deep end doing half-length sprints with their coach. And the 11-12s, 13-14s and 15-17-aged swimmers were at least 6 to a lane across the six lanes in the lap pool. Each lane looked like a game of Follow the Leader. The leader headed swimming down on the right and back on the left and just like the cars on the beltway, a safe distance was between each swimmer.

But not today. Today there was Ryan, a 15-17 backstroker, there was Megan, a 13-14 breaststroker and there was me, a 11-12 butterflyer. Only 3. Why? Because only 3 were lucky enough to swim so fast at the last team meet of the season and qualify for All Stars. The good news: We get to swim in All Stars. The bad news: We have swim practice, just the three of us,  for one more week.

“Pick a lane and start your warm-up. A nice and easy 500-free,” the coach announced.

Ryan walked over to lane 3, dove right in and started swimming freestyle. Megan pulled on her swim cap, adjusted her googles and jumped into lane 4. After bobbling up and down a few times, she took off, too. I quickly put my towel on a lounge chair, removed my warm up pants and t-shirt and jumped into lane 5. After I dunked down, getting my hair wet, I put on my goggles and began my warm up.

At the opposite wall, I did a flip-turn, pushed off and set into this freestyle pattern.
Stroke-stroke-stroke-stoke-breath on the right.
Stroke-stroke-stroke-stoke-breath on the left.
Back to the starting wall, I flipped and counted, 2 laps down, 18 to go.

After about 10 minutes, I reached the wall for the 20th time and stood up. Ryan and Megan were at the opposite end of the pool with a kickboard. “Sally, grab a board and be ready to join us,” the coach shouted out to me.

I pulled myself out of the water, walked over to the stack of blue kickboards in the corner and grabbed one. I hurried back to my lane and watched my older and faster teammates kicking toward me, Megan just a tad ahead of Ryan with a smile on her face.

“OK, be ready to take off together on the top,” coach announced. I glanced at the pacing clock at the side of the pool. The red hand was on the 7 and sweeping toward the 12.

“Ready, go,” coach shouted as it reached the 12. I pushed off and moved my legs up and down as quickly as I could while keeping my arms perfectly stretched out holding the kickboard on each side. Ryan took the lead this time and together we looked like the right side of a flock of geese flying south. Except we were flying through the pool, preparing for All Stars.

Thank, Stacey for helping me recall this memory “chained” to my swimming googles!