Those were the days, Southern small-town living where most of our socializing, religion, education, and friendships began and ended. Churches for our spiritual needs, schools for formal education, and , in Lavonia, the local public swimming pool for our fun and games. It was what it was , a decade of being satisfied with less and grateful for more.
When my age was growing up ( in the 50s ), our choices for swimming were limited. We either went to Boscobel across the state line into South Carolina or to what was then referred to as the Lavonia Beach, a section of the Tugalo River before it became Lake Hartwell. The Beach was truly a recreational area. The main attraction was a tributary of the Tugalo River rushing down smooth and slick boulders. Sliding down those rocks for hours was great fun for all ages and many a family of several generations spent warm afternoons there. The issue with the two choices of swimming holes was that they required transportation which was not readily available in the 50s. It usually meant that our parents either had to drive us or give up the family car for several hours.
So the movers and shakers ( City Hall, prominent citizens, fathers and mothers ) made the decision to build a public swimming pool, and build it, they did ! It was a marvelous decision carried out by mostly volunteers. I remember my daddy driving an 18- wheel , flatbed cotton truck to Elberton to pick up granite for the two-story building that housed the ticket counter, the concessions, the dressing rooms and showers. And upstairs was for DANCING—–with its own jukebox !
The Lavonia pool became, in the spring and summer, the place for friends to gather,and an interesting evolution took place about the use of the pool, whether by design or happenstance.
The mornings were for adults. The ladies in Lavonia and surrounding towns would spend mornings at the pool, sunning, swimming, and socializing. No kids. Afternoons were wide open, usually filled with upper elementary children, teens, and families with young children. And then the pool would open at night for private groups. It was a way of life that reflected the mood and tempo of Lavonia in the, arguably, greatest decade.
There were birthday parties , graduation parties, informal get-togethers, all in the spirit of a community gathering place. Several of us earned our lifesaving certification there . On a personal note, I was able to benefit from that when I was a camp counselor in college and, later, when I life-guarded at the Winder city pool following my first year teaching.
So many memories; so much nostalgia for days gone by. Times and priorities and leadership all must change for the sake of progress and reality. But foundations are crucial and preservation of that which brought us to where we are is critical. The Lavonia swimming pool died as a memorial to what used to be and as a beacon to what would come.
Are we really better off ?
( Taken in part from my book, IT WAS WHAT IT WAS )